Monday January 11, 2010

3 Idiots is not idiot-proof

Posted by Karthik

Aseem Chhabra has already spoken at length about the ‘feel good’ factor of 3 Idiots. And, many, many people have done more than adequate reviews of the film so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. But, here are some thoughts that crossed my mind as I finally caught up with the most-talked-about film in recent times, last weekend.

‘Feel good’ it is, no doubt. But when did ‘feel good’ start including,

  • Jokes on farting, however tastefully (!) done?
  • Ridiculing authority figures like teachers and professors?
  • Generalize and broad-base narrow opinions about the Indian education system, when things are actually improving – away from the mark-centric focus to profession-centric focus?
  • Seeking to sympathize with students who pee on their dean’s house, however annoying the dean might be?
  • Make blatant and rude fun of accent differences?

Trust me, I loved the film. It was very, very funny all through. I enjoyed all the gags. Where I do have a problem is with the content.

Where the book was largely about realistic losers and not extraordinary winners, the film eulogizes ‘a hero’. Rightfully so, since we’ve Aamir Khan as the ‘hero’. He was appropriately part-of-the-group in Rang De Basanti, where he shared credit with the same two co-stars, but here, he behaves pretty much like a mainstream masala hero. Beyond the facade of brilliance and practical application of brilliance, he does the following,

  • tells most people to do what he thinks is right
  • acts way too smart for his age. This could be perhaps he IS 40+ in reality
  • makes every body else look like a fool
  • strongly believes that what he is doing is perhaps the only right way to succeed/ excel

Even if you overlook all this, what is strikingly bizarre is the fact that film disses the way Chatur adopts to succeed (not excel, as the film emphasizes oh-so-often). That goes for a toss, when you see Aamir being a beneficiary to similar material gains Chatur is after…through Chatur’s firm/ Japanese.

So, Chatur took the book’ish route. Rancho took the innovative route. Both reached somewhere from what their hearts dictated – how does one become better? Just because Rancho applies everything he learns? So, Chatur is a loser in the end? When did Rajkumar Hirani start brushing with such broad strokes, after that brilliant sequel to Munnabhai?

Plus, most importantly, the excessive focus on how bad our education system seems almost regressive! Do you really think things are this bad? Don’t you see people choosing interesting professions like photography as against engineering? A decade ago, may be all this mark-focus was right, but I frankly think we’ve made some good progress and the film simply misses the point by hammering on what was and not what is.

That said, I do look forward to Hirani’s next!

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