Friday, January 22, 2010

Wanted: more idiots

There's every reason to delay this post. I'm buried up to my neck in work, cooking and housework. And my unfinished novella greets me with electronic shrieks every time I gaze at the screen. But some things must not wait. Some things demand the idiotic approach. So I must praise "3 Idiots" before the night is through.
Saw it twice in one sitting last night. The second time, I was just trying hard not to get caught in the story, trying desperately to analyze how the creative team pulled it off.
Because Rancho aka Rancchoddas Shyamaldas Chanchad aka Phunsukh Wangdu could have so easily been a despicable character. He's idealistic, ideological, intrusive, holier-than-thou and the spitting image of Mr Know-It-All. Why then is he so lovable? Because Rancho was propped up by a fantastic script and the best performance Aamir Khan has given till date. Because Rancho, in addition to being all that, is also curious as an elf and in love with all of humankind. He doesn't have a wicked vein in his body. He's just trying to raise the bar for everybody. In short, he's flawless.
All the more reason to nail him on to the nearest lamppost and treat him to a 11 KV jolt. But Raju Hirani, Abhijat Joshi and Aamir Khan manage to pull off this character. Indeed, Rancho joins my elite list of unforgettable movie characters - the likes of Sunil (Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa), Forrest Gump (title role), Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean), Nalla Sivam (Anbe Sivam) and Amelie (title role). No marks for guessing that all these characters flowed against the tide to support their distinct worldviews :)

But again, 3 Idiots is not just about Rancho. Rancho deserves an intricate plot, filled with flawed characters. He gets both. And as is to be expected from a Hirani movie, the supporting cast don't let the benign protagonist down. Boman Irani is spot on as usual, Sharman Joshi's mother delivers her poignant lines of comedy like a pro, Mona Singh gives cuteness, glow and warmth to her character of an expecting mother, Omi Vaidya as Chatur Ramalingam stands out throughout, Madhavan does one of the most convincing drunken scenes I've seen and Sharman Joshi is competent and pat.
But I must sheepishly confess that Kareena Kapoor surprised me. She was actually nice. Alright, she was great. She even managed to look nice.

If I must nitpick - although I really don't feel like it - I'd say that Hirani is falling into a pattern. Everything in 3 Idiots has a likely parallel in Munnabhai MBBS. There's the larger-than-life hero and he has a fan following. There's a death scene, physical handicap, drunken scenes, a caricaturised antagonist and ideological conflict. And in the end, the protagonist's victory is unambiguous.
But who cares? One laughs out loud, one feels the lump in the throat dislodge the Adam's apple and one weeps unashamedly at times. If this isn't a great movie, then what is?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy 2010, everyone. The occasion gets on to you, doesn't it? Even if you don't want it to. Especially if you don't want it to. So here I am, at 204 am on Jan 2010, having the luxury to introspect on everything that went wrong with my life and the few things I did right.
I'm going to let you in on a lil secret. Every New Year's Eve since 2003, I assess my writing skills and ask myself: "Am I still on the right path? Should I still pursue my journey as an author?" It's a serious, life-challenging question. The day I answer in the negative, I know that I need to move on.
Thankfully, so far I've responded with a resounding "yes!" to this question. The year I do otherwise, everything will change.
But anyway, secrets apart, this New Year's Eve, when I saw those fireworks explode, triggered by the hands of people I'll never meet, I realized that there's a reason this night is special. It's special in a very "Peter Keating" way. It's special because all of us are celebrating it. Indeed, the collectiveness of the moment makes it special. That set me thinking. What if we show the same collective spirit in answering the challenges of climate change? What if we decide in the same collective spirit that we must disarm our nation's weapons, disengage from our vices, dismember the charred remnants of our pettiness?
What if we can look beyond the Julian calendar? Ayn Rand didn't realize that Peter Keating, being the man of the masses, being the mass itself, was sending a coded message to her readers.
Let's decode. Let's celebrate what matters.
Again, Happy 2010, fellas. Hope you fare well in the new universal time zone.