Friday, December 25, 2009

3 Idiots - Review

By now, I guess the word of mouth is already out. It shouldn't be news to anyone that 3 Idiots surely deserves three cheers, and more. But the first thing you realize about this film is not that a 44-year-old Aamir Khan can play a 22-year-old college kid, and he can get away with it. Two friends [Madhavan and Sharman Joshi] embark on a quest for a lost buddy. On this journey, they encounter a long forgotten bet, a wedding they must crash, and a funeral that goes impossibly out of control. A lot can be said purely through songs and suspensions of disbelief. And a wonderful genre called comedy.The film is actually a fairly serious take on a cruel examination system that gets passed off for an education system in this country.

We produce IIT graduates who take up high-paying jobs. We don't make original thinkers who could pick up a Nobel prize for an invention. Aamir's Rancho is actually one such natural genius. As they make their way through the perilous landscape, another journey begins: their inner journey through memory lane and the story of their friend--the irrepressible free-thinker Rancho [Aamir Khan], who in his unique way, touched and changed their lives. He obviously can't fit into an Indian classroom, where all you have to do is mug up, to rise up. He plays the fool. But he still tops the tests. His two friends remain flunkeys throughout. And that is because, one of them, is burdened by his family's expectations and a fear of exams. The other is passionate about wildlife photography, and not physics. It’s a story of their hostel days that swings between Rancho’s romance with the spirited Pia [Kareena Kapoor], and his clash with an oppressive mentor, Viru Sahastrabudhhe [Boman Irani]. And then one day, suddenly, Rancho vanished… Who was he? Where did he come from? Why did he leave? The friend who influenced and inspired them to think creatively and independently, even as the conformist world called them three idiots. Where is the original idiot now? Finally, in misty mountains of unparalleled beauty, the friends find the key to the secret. Three Idiots is a comedy of ideas that is as provocative as it is funny, as wildly entertaining as it is insightful.

In India, even now, you should either be in engineering or medicine. It's usually the parents' promissory note. It's also a suicide note for many. The hilarious skits between the three friends and their dull, dreaded professor here, Virus, played by Boman Irani, reveal a non-stop Munnabhai comedy with a similar purpose. Rancho takes on Virus and the system. Virus takes on Rancho, and his friends. And one day, Rancho completely disappears. Many years later, his friends go out in search of who he was. As Raju Hirani says, this film is about five per cent of Chetan Bhagat's bestseller Five Point Someone. This is in fact a hardcore Bollywood flick, which demands its own share of subjectivity while you watch many parts of the story fit very conveniently into the larger scheme.

The filmmakers know just when to throw in that emotional low, after a comical high. They know when the song is most appropriate. And when melodrama will do just fine. Very few contemporary Bollywood directors understand this now. The fact that you don't feel like the fourth idiot watching 3 Idiots is, for its genre, the greatest relief. This is in every way Munnabhai - part 3. I think you shouldn't miss it at all. A laugh-riot that talks about the most important of human pursuits: self-actualization.