Movie Review: 3 Idiots

Title: 3 Idiots

Starring: Aamir Khan, Madhavan, Kareena Kapoor

Language: Hindi

This a story of three friends who meet at an Engineering college. Aamir Khan, Madhavan and Sharman Joshi play the three friends while Kareena Kapoor as the heroine and Boman Irani as the heroine’s Dad and college Principal comprise the rest of key star cast.

The Director of the film, Raju Hirani (of Munnabhai fame) clearly has a great flair for comedy and always manages to blend “messages” into his films. There is plenty to laugh right through the film plus there is a lot of criticism of the education system in India and associated advice/messages for all involved, all cleverly blended into the script.  Its almost as if the movie makers  set out to see the comic side of almost every scene in the film. The scenes where the friends meet each others families, the NRI student (a slightly exaggerated caricature) and his speech (where chamatkar turns into balatkar), the Principal and his idiosyncrasies  form some of the many outrageously funny sequences.  The quality of the humor  is a of a better standard than that  of the Munnabhai films simply because the theme of this story is one which most people (especially  those who have lived in hostel) can relate to.  So the comedy comes as across as that much more believable. As in most Bollywood films there is plenty of exaggeration in this film too.  Nevertheless, this is a thoroughly enjoyable film.

Surprisingly, Aamir Khan’s age in real life does not comes across as a drawback for the film. Both the star and the Director deserve credit for this. The tight script, the make up and the quality of the acting combined together,  easily make up for this potential shortcoming. You go in thinking “Couldn’t they find someone younger to play a college student?’ but once you watch the film you realize that this was never an issue. Kareena Kapoor handles her role with ease while Boman Irani manages to deliver without going overboard like he often does.  Aamir Khan as the lead in the film puts in another distinctly different, yet impressive performance. His ability to transition between his various roles (Taare Zameen par, Ghajini, 3 Idiots) is commendable. Besides, he deserves credit for selecting his roles and films so carefully so as to avoid stereotyping and yet being able to consistently churn out mega hits.

The Controversy Regarding the Credits

The film makers have given credit to Chetan Bhagat the author of the book Five Point Someone in the credits stating that it was “based on the book by Chetan Bhagat”.  There was some controversy surrounding this issue instigated by the author himself.  But my personal (having read the book) view is that the film makers have been inspired by the book but chose to modify the story significantly. In fact, this film is a perfect example of the stark difference between writing a book and making an equivalent  Bollywood film. Some of the sequences in the film are so ridiculous yet so funny. This is something that is almost impossible to capture in a book. The dialogues form a very critical part of Bollywood films especially when comedy is involved (Kareena’s dialogues about Gujju dishes comes to mind among others!). There can be no dispute whatsoever that the film makers deserve all the credit for this and there is nothing even remotely similar in the book.

Indian films with big stars often indulge in creating the persona of a larger than life image.  Aamir Khan’s character undeniably shoulders this responsibility. He is the smartest student, never worried about grades, knows all the answers, tops the class, cracks the jokes, is eternally helpful, has a heart of gold, gets into trouble, gets the girl, makes you laugh and cry, earns your sympathy, appreciation, admiration, love….that’s traditional Indian cinema for you.  A conventional book of fiction seldom indulges in this  kind of “hero-giri” and Chetan Bhagat’s book is no different.

Next, there is the question of  the “message” in the film.  Sending a message or two through his films seems to be a Raju Hirani trademark (and lately Aamir Khan’s too as in Taare Zameen Par). The film is replete with direct criticism of the Indian educational system. I don’t recall any of this in the book. I don’t mean to say that there are no similarities with the book, but I think Chetan Bhagat’s “kicking and screaming” is without too much merit. The film in its totality is very different from the book and the film makers (IMHO) have given him more than adequate credit.

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