I’ve survived my first semester of med school. Hallelujah.
After a torturous last month, we finally were handed a wimpy two week break, but at that point I would have literally taken anything. One week has already rushed by: how depressing. In this next week I need to get back on the horse or the fall will be really painful and dangerous!
Before coming to terms with that reality, however, I took an evening with the parents to go catch 3 Idiots in the theatre. My hopes were high, but still pretty realistic. I came out of the theatre wanting to run back in for a second show.
My dad said it best…after a long, long time we watched a movie that was thoroughly engaging, hilarious (but clean), touching and kept you guessing. Not to mention visually beautiful, with terrific dialogues (and delivery) and music that really fit it. My dad, mind you, has not LOVED a movie since probably the Hrishikesh Mukherjee period. Its difficult to make him laugh, but he was literally laughing the entire first half. Which, for me, is another reason to love this movie
3 Idiots is filmy, very filmy. At the same time, its philosophy is real, and everything in the movie clearly works hard to touch you in the audience, and affect you with its simple lessons even while you’re sitting there guffawing along the jokes. That takes me back to the movies I used to love as a child, movies like Golmaal. You have the good, well-meaning boy who has to resort to hilarious tricks to fight the system which is bent on an old-fashioned, robotic method, complete with a mean despot with a mustache. He gets found out, but he succeeds in changing the environment and somehow warming that despot’s cold heart. In essence, the story isn’t that new, but its been dressed up for the times, and it draws on the lives of youth going through the education factories today. The result is something refreshing, and wonderful, and heart warming. Hirani and Abhijit Joshi (screenplay) work wonders in transforming the predictable into something unexpected. Sometimes its the witty dialogue, sometimes the presentation (eg: Raju Rastogi’s family), sometimes its the way the greatly talented actors work with what they’ve been given, sometimes its the way things unfold. Not a single moment passed by when I wasn’t wholly engaged and engrossed by the movie.
I’m glad that the movie is only VERY VERY loosely based on Bhagat’s book, and the creative licenses taken by the makers do good for it. There’s no mistaking that the story overall is fantastical. But at the same time, the world its set in is all too familiar for any kid who has spent any time in the Indian education system (or, perhaps in any system of brutal competition…say, med school?). Every kid from 2 to 110 in the theatres can relate to the world these idiots are in, and if you were educated in India the nostalgia might be enough to make you the loudest one in the hall. You empathize with the idiots from the start, and the actors do a tremendous job in making you a part of their struggle and their story. From the moment Farhan Qureshi walks through the doors of the intimidating university, you’re there, and that kind of involvement does wonders for the experience of watching this movie.
3 Idiots is a platform to talk about the problems of earning a robotic education in a brutally competitive environment, a stage to loudly declare and illustrate that a system based on mindless, rote memorization which suppresses creativity, individuality, self-learning and motivation is toxic. We’ve heard those statements before…its an echo from every rebel movie you ever saw, and the idiots are another set of new-age rebels. But in Hirani and Joshi’s talented hands, you don’t get endless monologues and didactic speeches, and with Aamir Khan and Boman Irani you don’t get painfully over-dramatic and endlessly long standoffs. You get simple, condensed, straight bits of philosophy which make their impact and stay with you long after the movie has ended. You get appropriate drama that stays light. The movie isn’t afraid to discuss the pressure on the average youth today, or the student suicides that result from the exhausting environment, yet it doesn’t give you a self-righteous lecture about it. Hirani maintains this quality from his Munnabhai movies, and for me at least, that is one of the most endearing aspects of a Hirani film. Its still a Bollywood movie, its still filmi, but it makes a statement, yet it doesn’t tire you in the process.
I have loved Shantanu Moitra from the time I got hooked on Shubha Mudgal’s Ab Ke Sawan, but I have to admit I wasn’t too crazy about the music till I saw it in the movie. It fits perfectly, and I now own the OST (its available on ITunes, fyi). Swanand Kirkire is one of my favorite lyricists who is heard from too little, and he does a fab job, keeping it light where it needs to be and deep where it needs to be. Its a sensible, suitable soundtrack, and it fits the setting completely. When its mixed with the fantastic photography…whoa, what an effect! Behti Hawa Sa Tha is a great example…the hills of Shimla look simply astounding! And my desire to travel to Ladakh intensified about a zillion times, making me more envious of this prolific traveler (he’d probably judge better if the shots were true to life, but they looked amazing to me). Shaan is at a personal best in this same song, and I thought he was a great choice for this song, and so was Suraj Jagan for Give me some Sunshine. Sonu Nigam is good, but he didn’t really blow me away as he can, except maybe in Jaane Nahin (which probably has more to do with the sequence itself).
Aamir Khan is changing Indian cinema with every film he does, and he’s doing that while looking freakishly young. I couldn’t fathom how he’d play half his age, but he does it, and I bought it. Dude has to be on something. I’m hugely biased towards R. Madhavan, so I can only say good things for him. Sharman Joshi I always knew was talented, but I think this is the first time I sat up and noticed him carefully. All three had amazing chemistry as friends, and they embraced their characters with such enthusiasm that you felt like embracing them all. You can’t leave the theatre without a tinge of envy that you weren’t in their gang. I endured Kareena and she didn’t disturb the flow (for which I’m thankful), but girlfriend looked older than Aamir. Omi, who played Chatur, I’ve seen for the first time, and he had the power to steal the scene in many scenes. My mom loved him! I’m impressed by the accent he maintained throughout. Boman Irani is no doubt an artist, and I think this role will be my favorite for him. His lisp and the way he carried himself was just too good. And the kid who played Millimetre was hilarious and a skinny bag of endearing spunk!
Despite all my praise, the movie is definitely not without its faults. It could have been shorter and could have been tightened, it could have easily been a little less filmi, and it could have done without some sequences completely. And I’m sure plenty more…but on the whole, it leaves you happy and satisfied, and right now I’m really choosing to look over the faults!
I write long reviews, and they become longer when I haven’t written in ages. Watching this movie was uplifting, and I came out feeling happier than I have in a long time, and aching to get back to writing. I’m easily affected by art, and this film affected me in the best way possible, and it came at just the right time. It was nice to be reminded that at the end of the day, not all of us are made for the rat race, and running the fastest won’t bring you peace. Success isn’t defined by your rank in the race but your willingness to follow your heart and work hard for your dreams. Free thinking isn’t a crime, and to think for yourself is courageous and necessary. There will always be someone taunting you and always someone trying to push you down, but they can only have that power if you give it to them. And at the end of the day, love and friendship will be the best measures of your wealth. As long as you have those two, aal izz and will be well.
All cliches? Perhaps. All things I (and perhaps we all) need to be reminded of? Definitely.