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?


  1. With you completely... good one. You have looked at characters in a movie deeply. Did not see anything like this in the movie reviews in the press.

  2. Interesting write eshwar. I agree with you about the movie and the way it was done, I was hoping to read some line somewhere about Bhagat's claims. Waiting for your views on that episode. But thoroughly enjoyed the movie as well :)

  3. Thanks, dear people.
    Vishnu, I didn't get past Page 51 of Five Point Someone. So I really cannot comment on the Chetan Bhagat angle. I just hope he made some money as well :)

  4. Sweet readin, Esh! The 'wholesome cookie' that Hirani bakes everytime might indeed be a pattern..we'll know soon enough. One point I would like to discuss: the three characters show a sense of humour that we do not see amongst Indians. We are heavy and flat-footed. What do you think?

  5. Hmmm. I'm not too sure, Pat. The "now" of the storyline shows Farhan and Raju applying the lessons imparted by Rancho, which include humour.
    And during the college days, Raju is a humourless chap whereas Farhan came across as happy-go-lucky, someone who doesn't need too much convincing. He simply assists Rancho in the latter's schemes.
    The humour, following Hirani's pattern, comes from the supporting cast. Virus, Silencer, Mrs Rastogi and Pia are the primary sources for laughs. Rancho, I felt was more metrosexual. Unafraid to shed a tear and only the instigator of funny situations.
    Another tile in the pattern that I had failed to mention: the rational approach. Hirani and Joshi attack superstitions, especially astrology, in almost every movie.