AND WE’RE OFF: Review of 3 Idiots


This is my first review of a 2010 movie. The countdown for next year’s Howies begins.

3 Idiots, a new Bollywood movie, is silly, ridiculous, overly sentimental with a wobbly tone and pounds you over the head with its message. But after about twenty minutes, something happens and you become so overwhelmed by its good nature and its energy, that you just give in and by the time the credits roll, you come out of the theater feeling absolutely wonderful (the showing I was at, a couple left just before things got good; in all honesty, I was about to join them, but thank god, I didn’t). The movie is an attack on the Indian college system like Charles Dickens’ Hard Times is an attack on the English school system and The Paper Chase is an attack on the values that U.S. law schools instill in their students. In the India of this movie, children are told what they are going to major in by their parents at the moment of birth (if you’re a man, you become an engineer; if a woman, a doctor). The pressure to succeed is so great, that India, according to the movie’s hero, has the highest college suicide rate in the world. The three idiots are freshman roommates. One doesn’t want to be an engineer, but wants to be a wildlife photographer, so he can’t put his heart into his studies. A second has to succeed because his parents are so poor; as a result he becomes blocked by fear of failure and he also can’t do well. The third idiot is Rancho, played by Amir Khan, one of India’s most popular stars (he was the lead in another Indian movie that also attacked the Indian school system, Like Stars on Earth). Rancho is someone so in love with engineering, he has no trouble succeeding. But he is also a rebel, refusing to go along with the status quo, always questioning the teachers, the dean and his biggest enemy, played by Rajeev Ravindranathan, who is determined to be the best, but just can’t pass Rancho. You can try to resist Khan’s charms, but I wouldn’t advise it. He just gives the movie his all and there’s little you can do but join in and let him make you happy. And then, just at intermission, the plot takes a weird turn and the story speeds off in a new, but fun, direction. There are plenty of musical numbers, the oddest one perhaps taking place in the dorm shower room, complete with singers singing while sitting on the toilet. But the high point, musically has to be the love song between Rancho and Pia, the daughter of the dean that Rancho falls in love with. Probably a movie you’ll have to seek out to see, but it’s well worth it.

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