What do you do when you get handed the opportunity to be one of the rare few to attend a preview of one of the most anticipated films of the year? You drop everything you are doing, nod your head in acceptance and ask three questions… When, where and what time? And that is exactly what I did. I hauled my butt across London in the snow to make sure I got a sneak peek of Rajkumar Hirani’s latest offering 3 Idiots (3I).
My journey across London actually came to be quite useful. It gave me time to think about the film. What were my expectations from a film that boasted Hirani at the helm as director, Vidhu Vinod Chopra as producer and was going to be Aamir Khan’s only release of the year; and that too amongst rumours that of Aamir Khan taking a break from films? So if I said that my expectations were high, I think you would all understand. I mean take a look at their records -; they speak for themselves really.
So what happens when you bring together 3 perfectionists to work on a project that is loosely based on a Chetan Bhagat book? Well a film called 3 Idiots happens. Without giving too much away, on the surface 3I is a film about 2 friends Farhan Quershi (R. Madhavan) and Raju Rastogi (Sharman Joshi) on a journey across India looking for their missing friend Ranncchoddas Shamalaldas Chancha aka Rancho (Aamir Khan). It is during this journey that Farhan and Raju take a walk down memory lane. Relayed to the audience mostly through flashback and narrated by Farhan, the memories take the audience through the decisive moments that shaped the characters backgrounds, personalities and relationships as well as define the friendship the three lead characters develop and share. And it is the development of this friendship and their antics that will keep you rooted to your seat.
Before watching the film I had a couple of major concerns; one of them was Aamir Khan essaying the role of a college student; a forty-four year old playing the role of a twenty – something. Having seen the film I realised what an IDIOT I was. Aamir is a known perfectionist, and Aamir as the non-conforming Rancho is perfect. The image Aamir Khan developed for Ghajini over a year ago is non–existent. The bulging eyes, the introverted nature, the intensity, the anger waiting to unfurl: All gone. Sanjay Singhania is replaced by Rancho’s wide-eyed innocence. Aamir Khan manages to once again get into the head of the character he is playing and successfully breathes life in to the free spirited and honest Rancho; it actually takes a moment for you to digest the difference in appearance and character undertaken by Khan. It is his attention to detail that really some through in 3I. The big, baggy, oversized clothing worn by Aamir makes him look tiny and at time incredibly vulnerable. The characters constant movement, the wide-eyed excitement of a twenty something year old, the curiosity to learn – if there was an actor who could pull this off, it could only be Aamir. And he does with great aplomb.
Madhavan and Joshi give consistent performances throughout the film. Both have fantastic comic timing and are the perfect compliment to Khan’s Rancho. A few moments do stand out more than others, Madhavan’s expression whilst eating dinner at Raju’s, and then later on when he is caught out with his friends at a wedding are fantastic. Similarly, his expressions when Rancho almost marries him off to Raju’s sister Kammo are brilliant. Sharman’s expressions too while providing the background score during his friend’s declaration of love and then later on when he has to choose between his friend and his education really stand out. These scenes standout in their subtlety but leave a lasting impression.
Kareena Kapoor, it seems, is out to give Emraan Hashmi competition in the kissing stakes. As Pia she is good, but I don’t think she bought anything to the character that couldn’t be bought by someone else. I can easily picture Deepika Padukone, Geneilia D’Souza in the role.
The chemistry shared by the new on –screen jodi is okay, nothing to shout about but as a jodi they work. Would I want to see the jodi repeated? I am not sure yet. I haven’t quite decided; this maybe due to the simple fact that in a film where the monopoly is held by the 3 Idiots there really isn’t enough time to focus on a love story. However, where I am uncertain of wanting a repeat of the Aamir – Kareena jodi, I am 100% certain that I would want the Aamir–Madhavan–Sharman chemistry repeated. The chemistry between the three is fantastic and the trio are well supported by Omi as ‘silencer’ and Boman Irani as Viru Sahastrabuddhe, which at times is reminiscent of Munna Bhai’s Dr Astana.
My second major concern was Hirani and his concept. The trailers being aired on T.V. advertised another campus based film; my concern was how Hirani would differentiate 3i from other films that are of a similar topic, i.e. friendship and student’s on the path of self discovery. My conclusion was that differentiation would eventually boil down to Hirani’s treatment of the subject matter.
Even though the idea is not original, Hirani’s treatment is. This is mainly because Hirani has a very distinct style. The entertainer that enlightens and 3I does both. Though I haven’t quite decided whether 3i is a comedy, a drama or a feel good family flick, it does manage to cover several social issues that are typical of a Hirani film. The fact that India has the highest rate of suicides within the student community, the pressures that are put on children by their parents, teachers and peers, the idea of gradism, and colleges no-longer encouraging free thinking are all explored. It is just at times it leaves you asking for more.
There are moments in 3I that take you back to MBBS, parts of the film are predictable. Some instances you can see coming a mile off, others you can begin to predict halfway through after you gain an understanding of what is going on. There is one quite well packaged surprise though.
Hirani successfully manages to set the tone and the pace of the film within the first 15 minutes. He then not only builds on this but manages to maintain pace, and for a film coming in at just under 3 hours at no point did I feel the film dragged, it could however be edited in a couple of places. Comedy is definitely Hirani’s fort and there was more than one occasion where the audience laughed out loud, I think the chamatkaar/balatkaar scene drew the most. The emotional scenes were touching, but not overly so – I didn’t get teary eyed at any point.
His choice to shoot in India is commended. There are some scenes that simply take your breath away, especially towards the end. It does make you wonder why directors choose to travel abroad when they have such stunning locations in India.
He also manages to give the audience ‘aal izz well’, the 3I version of Munna’s Jadoo ki Jhappi and Gandhigiri ideology. Whether he manages to start another movement with this idea, only time will tell; it is quite an interesting idea though.
The music of the film was well used and I was impressed with Aamir Khan’s subtitling of the songs. I normally try to avoid hearing the music of a film for two reasons:
1. To find out whether I feel the song interferes with the storyline wanting me to fast forward it
2. Not to raise my expectations from the choreography aspect
I can now honestly say that I would not want to skip through any of the songs and have actually had the 3I album on repeat ever since I have seen the film. All the songs are shot beautifully and do help to progress the film. Shantanu Moitra (music director), Bosco – Caesar and Avit Dias (Choreographers) have done a good job.
So was the film worth trekking in the freezing cold, facing adverse weather conditions and crappy public transport?
Yes, I have no regrets.
Would I recommend it to my friends and family?
I already have been. I plan on getting the Bhatia Khandhaan to watch it soon after its release during the Christmas break.
Did I walk away with anything after watching the film?
Yep. There is nothing wrong with being an idiot, and if you are ever in any doubt, remember ‘aal izz well!’