3 Idiots

3 Idiots

‘3 Idiots’ is first and foremost a tremendously entertaining piece of cinema. The boys-will-have-fun atmosphere on an engineering campus is shot with the devious humour and warmth of a joke that has not lost its punch even after years of re-telling.

The thought processes underlining the film’s super-vibrant but calm surface are never allowed to seep out and bubble to the exterior of the narrative. If at heart ‘3 Idiots’ is a serious indictment of our education system, at the surface it’s a character-driven film played out at an observant and opulent but always-feisty octave.

The sounds of protest against the curbs, checks and downers in our education reach out to us in a cascade of crisply-written lines spoken by characters who have lived out the nightmare that precedes that long journey into the realisation of our dreams.

At times, the narrative is savagely funny. Note the sequence where Rancho (Aamir Khan) and his girl take the critically ill old man to the hospital on a scooter. Hirani has always seen humour of mortality. He has a potent style of storytelling, a mix of street wisdom and cinematic sensitivities that come together in a noiseless tango of social comment and entertainment.  Ironically, Hirani’s unconventional hero Rancho often goes the other way and sheds manly tears for colleagues, friends and tormented young citizens of modern India who are crippled by a despotic disregard for their natural creativity.

Aamir’s transformation into a 22-year-old collegian is so complete you end up wondering if he has been lying about being 40-plus in real life! Most of the funniest lines and inspiring situations in the script come from Aamir. And boy, does he play the boy-man with restrained relish!

Sharman as the poor middle-class boy driven to near-suicide by his parents’ ambitions gets two meaty sequences.

Madhavan as the third ‘idiot’ expresses his smothered dreams through a series of half-expressed thoughts and a fear of unhappiness that reach his eyes without transit.
Kareena as the girl engaged to the tycoon with a penchant for putting a price tag on all his gifts, brings a dollop of sunshine and feminine grace to an otherwise masculine tale. She is so spunky and spontaneous you wish there was room for more of her.  It’s not that ‘3 Idiots’ is a flawless work of art. But it is a vital and inspiring work of contemporary art with some heart imbued into every part.  

In a country where students are driven to suicide by their impossible curriculum, ‘3 Idiots’ provides hope. Maybe cinema can’t save lives. But cinema sure can make you feel life is worth living.

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