3 Idiots (2009)


One of my students – a girl, once asked me how would she know if she has found the right guy. I told her I don’t know how but I shared with her a method to sieve out the useless ones. Get them to watch 2 films with you and watch for their reactions. If the first reaction is “I don’t watch silly Japanese cartoons and musical Hindi flicks,” discard them like used tissue papers because they are not worth your time. Why? Because they already have deep-set perceived ideas and worse of all, they will not even give it a chance, not even for you. Then if they do want to watch them, watch for their reactions. If they give snide and self-important remarks, hello-goodbye them out of your life. The 2 movies that I suggested to her were My Neighbour Totoro and 3 Idiots.

I saw 3 Idiots again today and I am surprised it’s only my second time. But it feels like only just yesterday that I got to know the 3 musketeers – Farhan, Raju and Rancho. I think that’s one of the reason why it’s so successful – their easy chemistry. The 3 characters’ arcs are so divisive (each focusing on different aspects of the pursuit of education) but yet so intertwined because of their deep friendship. At the end, I remember walking out of the cinema learning life lessons from a master.

This time round watching it at home, I realize why I love it so much. Most films only have one central theme and all the plot revolves around that. 3 Idiots has bigger aspirations – it was deftly balancing multiple themes. It didn’t only delve on aspects of education, it also hit on subjects like superficiality, parenting, treating people right etc. IMO one of the reasons why the film succeeds is that it wasn’t preachy. It didn’t need 10 minutes to force the schmaltz down your throat, it just throws the idea out there and it hits home. Take a look at Jack Neo’s I’m Not Stupid, same big subject but you will vomit out all the top-down schmaltz by the end of the movie. I think 3 Idiots realizes that these ideas for living your life and the pursuit of excellence are in all of our consciousness… We all know them but we just never act against them and allowed it to permeate our lives from way back. The film only needs to throw out the ideas, package them in a fresh approach and it hits the home run. None of the ideas needed to linger longer than it was necessary.

I love the narrative structure which is actually a road movie. Most directors will just do tough love in a linear manner. 3 Idiots uses flashback very effectively. If you think about it, we are only seeing Farhan’s version of Rancho for 95% of the film. How do we know that’s the real version? The real Rancho only appears right at the end. The use of screwball comedy works remarkably well too. In fact, the tone switches like some idiot suffering from a tri-polar complex. For instance, in the ending of the second act, the birthing of Mona’s baby in the midst of the biggest flood and rain. Sincerely, I loathe these birthing scenes in movies. Always feel like some fake big life affirming moment but seeing how it is handled here I am so fcuking awed. Not pretentious and look at how the tone switches like crazy – from sad (expulsion from ICE), to tension (no transport to the hospital and no electricity), to full-on problem solving (the theme of what education is for culminates here), to comedy, to celebration, back to total sadness again (‘death’ of baby) and to the closing metaphor of “All Izz Well”. It was then I realized the director build up the “All Izz Well” metaphor all through the film until that point. And it didn’t end there. That last speech by the professor to Rancho in the driving rain closed up, no, bookended what actually began in their first meeting where Rancho asks why didn’t the astronauts use a pencil in space. This is what CLASS is about and this film has truckloads of it.

The only misstep for me is the romance angle between Pia and Rancho wasn’t totally satisfying. Their cute meet is really awesome but if Pia has learned anything from Rancho, why would she still want to marry Mr Pricetag in the end? I know it was just a narrative ploy to get all the parties together for the final journey to meet Rancho but it didn’t feel right for me. But really, I am just nit-picking.

I apologise if I let out some spoilers but seriously if you have not seen this, you must be the type of person that I mentioned about in the first paragraph. šŸ˜¬

5 / 5

The songs… I love them. But I have to admit “All Izz Well” is my least fave.


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