Why Golmaal’s Ram Prasad is toxic for office culture
Updated: Nov 16, 2018
Pray that he’s never part of your workplace (spoilers ahead)
Wish schools had taught us how to prepare for job interviews. Nowadays, we have YouTube, but 10 years ago, our only advisors were parents, siblings and friends who had been through the drill.
There was another medium we would rely on for our preparations: movie scenes. Raju Rastogi’s (Sharman Joshi) honest-as-fuck exchange with a campus-recruitment panel in Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots inspired my responses in interviews preceding my previous role. In complete contrast was Ram Prasad Sharma (Amol Palekar) being vetted by Bhavani Shankar (Utpal Dutt) in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Golmaal. Unlike Raju, this dude only provides answers that Bhavani WANTS to hear—in fact, he even clads himself in an uncomfortably short kurta-pyjama, a far cry from his bell-bottoms lifestyle, simply because Bhavani detests Western attires. Ram Prasad is duly trained and advised for this moment by his uncle (David), who’s Bhavani’s childhood friend, which gives Ram an unfair advantage over other candidates who have no means to finding out about Bhavani’s whims and fancies.
The uncle also wants Ram Prasad to woo Bhavani’s daughter, Urmila (Bindiya Goswami). Nevertheless, the dude does everything he can to impress his boss. He reports early and leaves late, despite company rules that nobody would be paid overtime. His work is spot-on, but so is his sycophancy game. It is this game that he plays to bail himself out when Bhavani sees him at a hockey match during work hours. And the reward: a separate conveyance allowance apart from his monthly salary, and of course, Urmila as wife (the love story forms another hilarious track altogether—not the focus of this post).
The movie does a clever job at making us feel all the empathy for Ram Prasad, despite the bastard that he is. We so want him to win at any cost, without realising that such blokes are responsible for instilling unhealthy workplace competition (as my Dad put it once while we were watching the film for perhaps the 198th time). The movie completely sidelines the other employees in Bhavani’s office, who most likely are juggling their jobs with other priorities in life and have more on their mind than sucking up to their boss. One of the few other coworker characters to make it to the screen is Bade Babu (Yunus Parvez), that nasal-hair-pulling clerk who isn’t wrong in approaching his workload at his own laid-back pace. However, the smartly designed plot makes it easy to perceive him as a slow-walking, lazy dimwit when pitted against the ‘bright and diligent’ Ram Prasad.
I wouldn’t blame Ram Prasad alone for this twisted office environment, though. Bhavani’s unreasonable—and even weird—criteria for his employees (they should be moustached and only focused on accountancy, not into sports, arts or other pleasures) make him a soft target for such sycophants, instead of the honest candidates we see in the beginning who were simply being themselves. Given the high unemployment rates in the 1970s, Ram Prasad couldn’t really afford to let go of this job. Which explains why he tries to save his ass by concocting a cock-and-bull story about a fake twin brother when Bhavani confronts him about the hockey match. Thus, for Ram, the interview isn’t like dating—to find out whether the job is a right fit for him and the other way round. It becomes a do-or-die challenge that he has to ace in order to bag the good life.
The film turns out to be a comical journey where one man learns to embrace differences in the end. But in reality, we all deserve a happy, peaceful life, which consists of a stimulating time at work, complete with an inclusive, understanding environment. So if you are rejected for a job just because you were as honest as Raju, not for being the wrong fit, thank your stars. Your potential boss could likely have been a Bhavani, and where there is a Bhavani, there has to be a Ram Prasad, and you don’t want to find yourself in their midst.