3 IDIOTS (2009)

“3 Idiots” is one of the most iconic Bollywood films of all times. It’s also one of those rare films that were a critical and a box-office smash at the same time. I have often asked myself, what the reason was for the film’s unprecedented connect with the people which finally led to its widespread appeal. For once the first stall of the cinemas mingled in harmony with the elite class. They laughed and cried at the same scenes and when it was over, they were on the same page with their feelings about the film.  It’s not that we haven’t seen a better film than 3 Idiots but it struck the emotional core of its viewers and catered to those feelings and memories that each and every one of us has.

There is very little left to write about a film like 3 Idiots about which critics and film buffs have pondered as much as it is possible for a sane society. Thus I will concentrate my views on points specific to what I believe was the reason for the film’s appeal. I will dwell on scenes that I believe made it possible to fall in love with this film.

The first scene that hit me hard was Joy Lobo’s Suicide. The fact that it was preceded by one of the wackiest songs of that year only made it that much more of a punch in the solar plexus. Nobody could have thought that when the camera would reach Joy Lobo’s room, he would be seen hanging with “I quit” written in bold letters on his wall. If that was not enough, the following scene in the crematorium with Aamir Khan’s masterful act as Rancho blaming Boman Irani’s Virus for the mishap is flattening.

The film doesn’t hold on to that serious mood for too long lest it becomes too melodramatic and dark. What we get instead is a scene in the houses of Rancho’s two friends Raju (Sharman Joshi) and Farhan (R. Madhavan) where he is called in by their parents to be rebuked and ordered to not ruin their respective ward’s life. The segment at Raju’s house is particularly hilarious. Shot in black and white and boasting of some quirky situational comedy as a result of Raju’s mom’s commentary on the socio-financial condition of their family and the society as a whole and the infamous “Khujli wali rotis”, this is scene probably a first of its kind. I can’t remember seeing anything of this type before.

The next big scorer is the hilarious “Balatkar” speech by Chatur. There isn’t anyone that I know off who has seen the film and not laughed their guts out on this scene. It just struck a comic timing that is difficult for many to even think off. Add to that the important message of Knowledge being more important than mugging stuff and you have a perfect sequence that is bound to strike a chord with one and all. However, when Chatur comes back drunk to face Rancho on why he destroyed his reputation, I felt a slight inclination and sympathy towards him. That is how masterfully Rajkumar Hirani weaved his tale. He literally plays with our senses and our sense of judgment making us a part of his narrative.

Raju’s father’s sudden attack and the manner in which he and Rancho reconcile brings tears to my eyes even today. I have seen this film a zillion times and it still works for me. Following their reconciliation,  when Raju is targeted by Virus to get Rancho expelled he attempts suicide. The following song “Zane Nahi Denge Tujhe” through which Raju heals from his near-deadly wounds is still one of my favorite sequences from this film. The song is so heart-warming and the essay of all involved is so real and organic that this song is elevated to a level that is hard to ignore. The fact that it is also a haunting melody only helps the matter further.

The climax of the film can be divided into two distinct parts. The sequence involving the troubled delivery of Virus’s daughter’s baby under horrifying situations by Rancho and the end of the film involving finding out Rancho and uniting him with Priya (Kareena Kapoor). In the first sequence, Rancho uses his mechanical engineering prowess to prepare and use at least two devices that save Virus’ daughter’s life. This part is so thrilling and edge of the seat affair that at many junctures through this scene I nearly closed my eyes. The surprise in the other sequence is dependent on the fact that whether Rancho is married or not and whether he will be finally found or not? These points are milked to the last ounce resulting in the kind of drama that will not only amuse you but also leave you totally drained.

If 3 Idiots is dissected at a sequence level, one is bound to find innumerable titzy bitzy set pieces that contribute to making this film what it is. These scenes individually mean nothing but add up to a whole that is alluring and affecting. I was baffled by the manner in which Aamir Khan essayed Rancho. He looks the age. He acts the age and above all, he gives out the right kind of vibe that you expect from an engineering student. I have experienced hostel life from up close and I can vouch for the authenticity of the hostel life sequences depicted in this movie. The film also has a surprise element to it that was nowhere present in its source material. That is Rajkumar Hirani all the way for you.

What we have here is a film that is bound to age well. This is a film about the human condition and documents human emotion. Now those are two things that don’t change with time. For years and years, it will continue to affect people and make them go limp every time Rancho hugs a friend after doing something great. Make them go nuts every time the 3 idiots land into a duel with Virus and get punished for it. Feel the romance every time a Rancho proposes to a Priya in the most outward sort of a way. That I believe is what 3 Idiots is all about.

Rating : 4.5/5 (4.5 out of 5 Stars)

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