3 Idiots is so amazingly amazing I’d like to take it home with me. I wish I had had someone like Rancho with me in college, so I could have been inspired to drop out, grow my hair long, join a rock band and change my name to Gorgeous Sheep Killer. That would have given me the subsequent opportunity to dump the band five years later, changed my name to Rajkumar Hirani, and make a movie which is 50% sermon and 50% gags of the ‘ageing paraplegic driven to hospital on a two-wheeler’ variety, and rake in crores of rupees. And, like him, I wouldn’t do it for the money, but for the unique opportunity of changing the entire educational system and to see the smiles on the faces of the leaders of tomorrow.
3 Idiots is probably not as bad a movie as I’m making it out to be. Then why, you must be asking, do I appear to have it in for Hirani and Co? I think it’s definitely one of the following reasons:
- No amount of sermonising (and there’s a lot of that) can change the fact that the issue which this film actually centres around is both prescient and pressing. But why do our filmmakers lack the necessary belief to be able to present an issue in a non-manipulative manner and trust the audience to see the truth behind it? Why beat them over the head with it?
- The setup in the scenes leading to the discovery of the student suicide was masterful. That the preceding scenes were comic in nature made it all the more jarring. But then the film zig-zags back and forth – slapstick, followed by attempted suicide, followed by slapstick, followed by parental disapproval, and so on – until the viewer eventually gives up trying to differentiate between the emotions that are being provoked from him at every turn
- This one sounds churlish even as I write it. Its even stranger when you consider that a) I’m an Aamir Khan fan, and b) he does as a fairly convincing job as a college student, appearing for the most part, through a combination of ability, sheer determination and anti-wrinkle cream, younger than both Sharman and Madhavan. So while I can’t say that it was a mistake to cast him in this role, its sad that we had to forget Aamir Khan, the 40 year old, before we could enjoy him as Rancho, the 20 something college student (There’s another attached problem along with this. Previously, when you cast Aamir Khan, you got yourself an actor willing to subsume himself in a particular role until you could see only the character. Now when you cast him, the result is a hybrid of ‘Aamir Khan, thinking man’s actor’ and whatever character he’s playing. This may or may not have been a contributant to the rampant preachiness of this movie (which was also the only real flaw in Taare Zameen Par) though Hirani is known to indulge this vice as well. Of course, it could have been worse – today, when you cast Shahrukh you only get ‘Shahrukh, former actor and star for all time’. And no director knows what you’re going to get when you cast Hrithik Roshan
- There’s this amazingly bugging female going ‘Mmmm mmmmm mmmmm’ during every emotional scene in the second half. I doubt I would have liked these scenes anyway, but the voice made me want to throw things at the screen
- It is unforgivable the way the movie sets Chatur up as an object of ridicule when he is the most representative, of all the characters shown, of the way the youth of this country evaluates their success today. We laugh at him because the movie makes it easy for us to do so. Then all of us will leave the hall and go back to living our lives according to the exact principles he espouses in the movie, but will be too stupid (or too dishonest with ourselves) to admit to it
- The man who brought us some of the best comic setups of the past decade with the two Munnabhai films is now rehashing gags. We’ve seen all these ones before – the guy peeing onto an electrified surface, the ‘noses come in the way’ line, the forgetting of pants, the token gay jibe, the handicap gag…
- More on that handicap gag. That, and the entire treatment of Raju’s family as a ‘typical 1950s Bollywood movie’ is not only extraordinarily insensitive, but also extraordinarily clever thinking on the part of the makers. To acknowledge their situation as true-to-life and representative of any number of struggling families that send their kids to college would make it a lot tougher for the audience to wholeheartedly encourage Sharman to follow in Racho’s difficult-to-emulate footsteps. The audience would then have to do some soul searching, but why make the audience think when they are ready to let you think for them?
Finally, somewhere in the midst of all this, there was a memorable line to the effect of “How come you managed to start out as an engineer, then do an MBA, and finally end up working in a bank”. This is a question destined to niggle away at all those who, like me, are at a loss to explain their ridiculous career decisions. This movie could have spoken volumes about my current situation in life. It could have…