Wednesday, June 09, 2010

3 Idiots- The Review

At long last, after the whole world, and then some, has already watched it, I finally managed to watch the year's biggest hit "3 Idiots". On my laptop, mind you. Yet, despite the constraints of the medium, the sheer magnificence of the movie remained unmitigated.

There are very few movies that can be called perfect. Even a classic like "Rang De Basanti" had its share of detractors dismissing it to be too preachy and impractical. This latest offering from Rajkumar Hirani, however, is flawless. I know I am sounding like a fresh-off-the-boat fanboy here, but truth be told- the movie is perfect. 

While there are conflicting views on how much of the script is based on Chetan Bhagat's novel, and since I have not read "Five Point Someone" myself, I'll be generous and give complete credit to Hirani and his team for such an engaging story and screenplay. Despite the obvious temptation to make it preachy, the director manages to keep it breezy and witty. The messages are all there, but cleverly packaged amidst some very funny situations and one-liners.

Among the 3 idiots, Aamir as Rancho sleepwalks through a role that he has played so many times to perfection in the past decade (Dil Chahta Hai, Rang De Basanti). It is to his immense credit that, at 44, he can still convincingly play a 22 year old. However, it is not an act that deserves a "Best Actor" award. But, knowing how the awards work, I would be surprised if Aamir doesn't win most of the awards. It is ironic considering that Aamir never won the awards for the movies when he really deserved them, back in the early 90s (Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke etc).

Madhavan, as Farhan, the wildlife-photographer-trapped-in-an-engineer's body, plays his role well although the real revelation is the 3rd idiot, Sharman Joshi. Sharman as Raju, a lower middle class youth carrying the weight of his  family's expectations, is the best actor among the three. He displays great maturity in portraying the phobia-ridden Raju who is forced to choose between his family's expectations from him and his loyalty to his friends. If anybody deserves an award, it is Sharman although it is technically only a supporting role.

Kareena deserves a mention for the freshness and exuberance that she brings to every scene that she is in. Boman Irani, reprising his obnoxious dean role from "Munnabhai MBBS", does perfect justice although he risks becoming typecast in such roles.

A special mention for Omi Vaidya, who plays Chatur Ramalingam or "The Silencer", the hyper-competitive NRI kid who is a diametric opposite to Rancho, and who detests Rancho's philosophy of "Learn to excel, and not just learn to succeed". Chatur, on the other hand, believes in toeing the oft-trodden path and champions the "learning by rote" idea. In many ways, Chatur represents the Indian education system, and its over-emphasis on grades and bookish knowledge without regard for the application of the knowledge. The annual day scene where Rancho messes up Chatur's script, leading to a hilarious speech very aptly brings out the point about learning without understanding.

The movie comes a full circle when the rest of the protagonists eventually find Rancho, who had absconded for 10 years after graduating from Engineering, in a remote village in Ladakh to realize that he is actually somebody else- an elusive scientist named Phunsukh Wangdo, who is sought by American (Chatur represents the American interest) and Japanese industrialists for his 400+ patents. When Chatur finally accepts defeat and strips to his innerwear to offer his salutation, in the characteristic college style, and goes "Jahanpanah, tussi great ho, Tofu kabool karo" in his inimitable accent, you know that "All izz Well". Indeed.


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