Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
3 Idiots: Lacks punch, but feels really good
I must admit I had apprehensions going in to watch Rajkumar Hirani’s ‘3 Idiots’, inspite of the immense buzz that has surrounded the film.
One of my biggest qualms was how the director could hope to get away with casting middle aged men as college going boys.
That apprehension disappeared within the first 15 minutes of the film, because R Madhavan, Sharman Joshi and Aamir Khan play their roles so convincingly and with so much heart, that the age factor goes out of the window.
The film starts extremely well. Hirani infuses the first half of this film with his trademark sense of everyday humour and shapes up his characters with so much affection, that you are sucked into the story.
Aamir Khan plays Ranchoddas Shaymaldas Chajaad, an engineering student who has so much optimism and good will to share that some times it seems too good to be true (which it is, but we shall come back to that later.)
His two roommates Farhan and Raju don’t share his bubbling enthusiasm, but willingly go along with him on the many rides he takes them on.
They include fudging up a speech, fooling professors and playing tricks on all and sundry, as they go through their life in engineering college.
Rancho develops a strained relationship with the college dean played by Boman Irani, who believes in the old fashioned methods of teaching.
Rancho however, is of the opinion that education should be for the pursuit of knowledge and not the pursuit of success. (Munnabhai redux?)
Hirani introduces some interesting characters like Milimetre, the canteen boy who runs errands for the boys and Chatur Ramalingam, a whiny, sly NRI kid who is easily the funniest character in the film.
The film is told in flashback and is told through the eyes of Farhan, as he and Raju set out on a search for Rancho, who we are told in the beginning itself, has been untraceable after college.
As the friends set out to find him, they reminisce about the past.
The first half of the film is mostly brilliant, with some funny and poignant moments.
Watch out for the teacher’s day speech and the visit to Raju’s house, both of which provide great humour.
However, the second half loses its easy, understated feel and becomes too overbearing. There are one too many dramatic scenes, and too many incidents, many of which reduce the effectiveness of the film.
Also, the climax seems a little forced and convoluted, not what one would have expected from Hirani.
I know this is a director who is known for the feel good factor in his films and he definitely delivers that, but I would have liked to see some grey shades to Aamir’s character.
That doesn’t happen and he seems almost too good to be true. However his chemistry with Kareena Kapoor is crackling; watch out for the “zoobi doobi song.”
This film has some great performances, some great moments and brilliant writing by Hirani and Abhijat Joshi.
It doesn’t have the punch that the Munnabhai films had, but it does feel really good. You could even forgive the unnecessary drama in the film because it is done so honestly. Watch this one.