What every entrepreneur can learn from Gangs of Wasseypur


Learnings for an entrepreneur from the Hindi Movie- Gangs of Wasseypur

“Gangs of Wasseypur”, to me is a spectacular entrepreneurial story, of a man’s enterprise and quest for power. It is a classic story of a man, who went on from being a “nobody” to becoming the most powerful man in Wasseypur.When he entered, the market was already taken but Sardar Khan wrestled out market share from Ramadhir Singh and became the biggest player in the “gundagardi” product-space.

How did he do it? What was it about Sardar Khan that helped him grow and take control of the market? What can we entrepreneurs learn from him?

1. Get Purpose, Get Focus

Sardar Khan had just one goal, one purpose for his enterprise – revenge. He wasn’t chasing anything else – money or glory. All those were incidental to the purpose.

And because he had that focus, the strategy came naturally to him – just go after Ramadhir Singh; loot his petrol pumps, encroach his land.

It’s extremely important for us entrepreneurs to know exactly why we started our venture. What is that one purpose – is it money, is it glory, is it freedom “to do it my way”.

I have often found entrepreneurs confused on this question. They want freedom but theychase money. Atleast in the initial phases you can’t chase both – so get rid of the conflict and try and stay focused.

2. Play to your strengths

Sardar Khan had no money, no power, no political backing. All he had was an image, a brand called Shahid Khan. It was his only strength; it was the only thing about him that scared Ramadhir Singh.

That was all that Sardar Khan played on. He just went on strengthening that image (of fear). From the killing of the pehalwan, to slapping JP Singh (Ramadhir’s son), to the “kasampaidakarneyvaaleyki” episode, Sardar Khan repeatedly built up on the fear quotient.

Startups have to compete at every level, be it hiring, or marketing and sales and there is no way you can win if you play on your competitor’s strength.

3.   Get the differentiator

Sardar Khan had the differentiators that gave him the advantage. Be it the skills of Pappu Punjabi the bomb maker or the “desikattas”, it was this advantage that allowed him to counter the Qureshi threat.

Sultan was not so much afraid of him as he was of Sardar’s technological advantage. He could not retaliate because he was forced into submission by a superior product.

A differentiated offering is what helps businesses scale. It helps you dominate in the market. It is what makes or breaks you, just like it did in the case of Sardar Khan.

4.   Get a co-founder

Needless to say that Sardar Khan could not have achieved anything without Azghar Khan (the cousin). Azghar was there everywhere; when they killed the pehalwaan, when they escaped from the jail. Every single one of Sardar’s plans was executed with help from Azghar Khan.

And surely enough, one of the things that got Sardar Khan killed was the one thing where Azghar had disagreed and then reluctantly acquiesced.

Get a team, or a co-founder you can trust, who compliments you and perhaps even challenges you occasionally. 

5.    Location Matters

“He is the local goon of some Dhanbad politician. If you kill him in Wasseypur itself, there is no problem”

Sardar Khan could only do what he could because it was Wasseypur. The location was critical because it provided him the culture needed to run his venture; culture that was as fervently defended by the Qureshis as by him.

There are just some places that are better suited for your venture to take wings. Location matters.

There were other qualities of Sardar Khan, like speed of execution, like finding opportunity, like a delusional ego; that coupled with all the circumstances caused his rise and eventual fall.


Vikram Bahl, Founder, Yavvy.com