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Starring the popular Aamir Khan and directed by Rajkumar Hirani 3 Idiots has been an incredibly successful Bollywood film winning numerous awards and breaking pretty much all box office records in India. Released in 2009 this much anticipated comedy film is directed by Rajkumar Hirani and produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra.
Director Rajkumar Hirani explains that Chetan Bhagat gave him his book “Five Point Someone” to read and he was inspired to make a film loosely based on the plot: “So I had decided to rewrite it in a screenplay format. You'll see that the film is very different from the book. ” The film has the spirit and message of the book and yet is quite different and the film is credited as 'Based on a novel by Chetan Bhagat.' though Bhagat was disappointed the credit appeared at the end of the film and not on opening. It appears that they have all kissed and made up after the sniping in the press.
The film opens with Farhan (R. Madhavan) and Raju Rastogi (Sharman Joshi) going in search of their friend Ranchoddas Shaymaldas Chajaad (Aamir Khan) who suddenly leaves after college graduation with no explanation. The three guys are engineering students who share a room in a hostel at a very highly rated college in India – the Imperial College of Engineering. Farhan and Raju are from modest backgrounds and have pressure from their families to do well in their studies. Ironically Farhan has ambitions to become a wildlife photographer, but instead opts for engineering college as per his middle class father's wish. Raju comes from a poor working class family and aims to raise his family income. In contrast Rancho is from a rich family and is incredibly clever, learning for pleasure rather than future monetary gain.
From Rancho's entry we see his passion for knowledge, creative initiative and incredible sense of humour. With his radical and mischievous approach to his studies Rancho inadvertently gets on the wrong side of his lecturers and the dean -
Professor Viru Sahastrabudhhe (Boman Irani) who is nicknamed ViruS by students. Yet he always comes first in examinations so they are at a loss how to discipline him. Things come to a head when he confronts ViruS after a pressured student hangs himself in his dormitory room.
ViruS’ pet student is Chatur Ramalingam or "Silencer" (Omi Vaidya) who sees education as a way to increased wealth and social status and does everything by the book. He is called Silencer due to his frequent silent-but-deadly farts. Rancho plays a hilarious prank on Chatur (whose spoken Hindi is a little poor) and becomes the laughing stock of the audience. Chatur then becomes a sworn enemy of Rancho and vows to get revenge by becoming more successful in the future. Meanwhile, Rancho also falls for ViruS' daughter Pia (Kareena Kapoor) who is a medical student much to her father’s horror. I won’t give away any more of the plot but it is truly an engaging and amusing story.
The film moves with narrations that use flashbacks to enable us to discover the characters. The first half of the film definitely keeps your attention and is edited perfectly with lots of comedy and wit. Unfortunately something goes wrong halfway and some of the story becomes contrived in some parts and towards the end it is ridiculously far-fetched. They get away with it as it is a comedy but it seemed unnecessary.
The film has some of the best comedy I have ever seen in Bollywood. The characters complement each other well and their friendship appears very genuine. Aamir Khan is excellent as ever, I had huge doubts about this film as he was playing a student and he is probably now in his forties. My friend and I watched part of a documentary that showed the work behind the scenes for this film. The amount of effort Aamir Khan put into getting the character right is phenomenal. He was previously in Ghajini where he played a very muscular hero, and worked very hard to get a mindblowing physique. However to be believable as a student he slimmed down dropping 8kg and lost most of his muscle. My friend was horrified and exclaimed that he is indeed an “idiot”!
The “villain” in the film Viru Sahastrabuddhe or ViruS as we all call him provides immense comedy value. You do want to hit him sometimes too so he does well. R. Madhavan shows that he can act without overdoing it like in the past. I was impressed with his subtleness of tone and sincerity onscreen. Sharman Joshi is also brilliant and this is the first film I’ve seen him in and he was impressive in his “serious” scenes. Boman Irani’s lisp deserves a mention, and though I found him a little annoying he played his role perfectly. Most surprising performance was from ¨Kareena Kapoor who was excellent as Pia and didn’t spoil it by trying to be sexy or oversmart. Her line that gently pokes fun at the names of Gujarati food "dhokla, fafda, thepla, khandwa, khakra" was memorable and I thought she was excellent. It is possibly the first film I’ve actually liked her in!
3 Idiots broke all Bollywood box office records on release. The film netted 380 million rupees in its four-day first weekend. By the first week, the film netted 790.5 million, breaking the box office record held by Aamir Khan’s previous hit film Ghajini. 3 Idiots is the first Bollywood film to beat the 2 billion mark in India. 3 Idiots is the second highest-grossing Indian film overseas after My Name is Khan. It also did very well in the USA, Australia, Fiji and parts of Africa though surprisingly it didn’t do as well as expected in the UK and yet was Britain's highest grossing Bollywood film of 2009. The film has won many awards, including six Filmfare Awards (the Indian Oscars), ten Star Screen Awards and 16 IIFA awards.
I have been watching Bollywood films after giving them a wide berth in the nineties where they seemed to have largely been senseless drivel. However recent releases (notably ones featuring Aamir Khan) have had a message to pass on to the audience. This film is no exception. Beneath the comedy there is a clear message about the education system and the effect of parental pressure on students. The working, middle and upper social classes of Indian society have been amusingly depicted onscreen. The issues raised are not sugar-coated yet the makers are smart enough to avoid doom and gloom. Overall this is a very believable story of the potential tragic consequences that can occur then there is too much pressure placed on young students.
No Bollywood film can be reviewed without mentioning the music. Shantanu Moitra provides the music and it perfectly captures the mood of the film. The “Aal Izz Well” song is not really something I would choose to listen to but it fits into the film really well. Zoobi Doobi is also a cute and cheery romantic song. All songs are choreographed beautifully and mesh well with the story rather than randomly thrown in. Accompanied by Muraleetharan’s flawless cinematography and Manish Malhotra’s outfits we are drawn into the world of the 3 Idiots and forget that all the actors are in their thirties and beyond.
Direction by Rajkumar Hirani has been pretty good and much attention to detail has been given though I think the end required better editing. There are some very clever parts in the film my favourite being when we meet Joshi’s family and they are so clichéd in their manner that the screen turns in an ancient black and white tragic scene with the obligatory paralyzed dying old man in the living room.I wasn’t enamoured with his first two films Munnabhai MBBS and Lage Raho Munnabhai but largely due to the fact I think Sanjay Dutt is too old to be believable in such films. However the masses loved it and both were hit films so what do I know?!
Central to the success of the film is Aamir Khan. His acting is so spontaneous and cool with an easy manner that is impossible not to warm to. I really liked the way he walked (yes he even practiced a youthful walk for this film!) and Aamir makes Rancho a character we adore. I don’t think any other actor could have played this part. and that's what stays with us. ¨After Ghajini I thought Aamir had hit his peak but he proved me wrong. I would wholeheartedly recommend this film to everyone and it is an easy feel good film that can be watched with the whole family.