Saturday, December 26, 2009

3 Idiots

Aal Izz Well!

That's the new battlecry!

When I told a friend that 3 Idiots is the best film this festive period, he told me it takes an idiot to be able to tell one, and that I saw myself in the film. If anything, I'll take that as a compliment, as the film is about self-actualization, or the simple fact that it's a wake up call in this rat race of a world that we live in, that we lose sight of things that matter in the pursuit of success. It's a wake up call that we should be pursuing Excellence instead, which in the work environment one gets easily drowned in mediocrity, or blind faith that success follows without putting in too much hard work.

Set predominantly in the varsity days and told in chunks of flashback, this film will allow you to reminisce about a time where life was nothing but exams, lectures, and that paper chase, either making the grade or having to repeat. But there's also probably that one person, or a few if you're lucky, whom you'll meet on campus that will help you directly or indirectly, shape your outlook, thinking and just about forming long lasting bonds, whose interaction with will shape your character just before entering the workforce.

3 Idiots tell of such a friendship, amongst 3 buddies Farhan (R. Madhavan) and Raju (Sharman Joshi), two mediocre students who just scrape through, and the one huge influence in their lives, ace student Rancho (Aamir Khan), the livewire of the trio who irks the Dean of Imperial College of Engineering (modelled after the famed Indian Institute of Technology), Professor Viru (Virus), played by Boman Irani. In fact, it's something like a Hindi equivalent of the local I Not Stupid with its critique on the educational system, but done with a lot more finesse, fun and without sledgehammering its ideals down your throat.

The gist of the disparity here is the concept of learning how to learn, or teaching somebody how to fish compared to just giving the students the fish. It's a reminder that knowledge gathering goes beyond just doing so for exams, and the techniques of blindly cramming will do one not much good later on. It's about the application of knowledge for the real world than to answer papers, and the joy of acquiring such knowledge. It's the 3 Idiots versus the Professor, and their peer Chatur "Silencer" (Omi Vaidya who played the role with glee, as the peer bootlicker that everyone loves to hate) who throws down the gauntlet to Rancho as to who will eventually be the more successful of the lot.

What made 3 Idiots work remarkably, is the excellent chemistry between the leads. Aamir Khan, the big name as he is, doesn't upstage his co-stars R. Madhavan and Sharman Joshi, as their characters get into various forms of shenanigans in college. Instead they complement one another in their roles, and thanks to makeup, look very much comfortable as their aged selves, and their younger teenage ones through closely cropped hair, and outfits. Aamir aces the role of Rancho as the boy who gets ahead of the pack without really trying and at times being perceived as both the smarty pants and the troublemaker of his cohort, though his sudden disappearance after graduation has made his good friends try to track him down, albeit unsuccessfully.

The film also doesn't take itself too seriously when the time calls for it, switching quite playfully to ramp up its funny moments, even at times breaking the fourth wall when telling the story of Raju's background (in black and white melodrama no less). The jokes here worked wonders as well, as do the couple of twists that roll along in the 2nd act after the interval, which is somewhat telling of the narrative depth that the film possessed. Songs were breezy and plenty of fun, and I personally enjoyed Aal Izz Well (All Is Well) best, a chant that the Idiots adopted from Rancho, who uses it to calm his heart when it's filled with anxiety and fear. I think it works.

Affairs of the heart though are kept at a bare minimum, when Rancho falls for the daughter of Professor Viru, Pia (Kareena Kapoor). While they start off in quite testy terms, things start to thaw when Pia sees Rancho for who he is, except that the secret Rancho keeps threatens to keep them permanently apart. And that is unless the other 2 pals could help it in their quest to locate Rancho. Everything falls into place at the end, especially telling of the second act when you learn of this secret at the cliffhanger prior to the interval, and this provides yet another emotional sucker punch to your gut when themes like friendship lasting forever starts entering the picture.

Chase excellence and success will follow; this film lived up to that tagline in being one of the most excellent I've watched this year. Amongst all the film offerings put out this festive season, my choice for the most uplifting, the most hopeful and a jolly entertaining ride all around with elements of everything only a Bollywood film is renowned for, is this one. Don't miss it, and it goes directly, albeit a late entry, as a contender for my top films of the year!

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