Friday, January 01, 2010

3 Idiots: a brief comment

I disliked 3 Idiots intensely and indeed cringed through more than half of it but looking back, I can see that by the standards of contemporary Hindi movies, it is not at all a bad one. There is a certain slickness to the script and the direction (credited to Abhijat Joshi and Rajkumar Hirani), a couple of good jokes (the jokes are pitched at the level of a 5-year old but the audience around me found them funny), one truly moving scene (about which more later), pleasing performances by pleasing actors (Sharman Joshi, Madhavan and Kareena Kapoor) and of course the great Mr. Aamir Khan himself.

That last part, in case you didn't get it, was intended as sarcasm (the rest was sincere). Indeed 3 Idiots works best when the movie isn't busy adoring its star. Sadly, that would be may be 15 minutes of its running time. The rest is mostly scenes that consist of: (a) Aamir Khan telling people he likes how they ought to live their lives, or (b) Aamir Khan telling people he doesn't like how they ought to live their lives. (Oops, did I say Aamir Khan? I meant his character Rancho. But who am I kidding?) This gets a little wearying after a while since: (a) his intellectual adversaries are either bumbling or wicked or both. They get no good lines and don't offer much of a fight. Khan always has an answer! He's a genius, you see. (b) His friends are either bumbling or helpless or both. And boy, does he love to help! And boy, are they thankful! In fact, they worship the very ground he walks on.

If Khan took praise well, if he looked, oh let's say, just a wee bit embarrassed, this could still be interesting. Not. Aamir Khan, as an actor, is pathologically incapable of modesty. Indeed the more Rancho attains demi-god status in the movie, the more annoyingly smug he looks. Rebellion never had such a supremely self-satisfied avatar.

PS: Watch out for the scene at the very end between Madhavan's character Farhaan and his father, played by Parikshit Sahni. Probably the most touching father-son confrontation I've seen so far. And the song sequences pop and fizz.


Person said...

My thoughts:

1. Why does Bollywood have to be so preachy all the time? I counted the number of times Aamir had preachy dialogues and cringed when they came on. Why is the film trying to teach me a lesson? And if it really must, why is the lesson itself so stale? And if it must teach me a stale lesson, could it not be more subtle about it instead of spelling out every last word in the script?

2. Preachy dialogues lead to two-dimensional characters; characters that have no way to save face, to struggle for their dignity, to maintain dignity in spite of challenges, etc. For the poor recipients of Aamir's preachings, there was but no option but to succumb and either look down while the scene changed or hug him and cry.

3. Melodrama - as usual, this film was over-the-top melodramatic. What Bollywood lacks in subtlety, it makes up for by its remarkable ability to make you, the audience either laugh (at a corny joke) or tear up (at a saccharine sweet moment), and for a moment you might wonder how a poor script could evoke such a rollercoaster of emotions, but then you realize that most of those emotions are cheap and momentary, and then you feel cheated for being manipulated to feel something where there was nothing to be felt.

scritic said...

Hi Neil,

That's a good analysis! I usually don't feel cheated by melodrama because it never gets to me unless the characters are at least a little bit three-dimensional. But I get what you mean. I wouldn't have minded 3 Idiots so much if it hadn't been so relentlessly preachy and like you point out, what stale (and also contradictory!) advice!

The Daysleeper said...

lol what a rant! bolloywood does that to me to

Harini Sridharan said...

I agree... way too much hero-worship for my taste (although I did enjoy the rest of the movie).

Mihir said...

Hey Shree, you struck a chord there with me in your takes on Amir Khan. Btw, haven't seen the movie yet, but definitely want to based on all the positive recommendations I have gotten from people I know. I kinda expect a similar reaction as yours, but I think I can dumb down enough for a future lot of three hours to waste that I will allocate for this viewing. Or maybe I shouldn't see it...
However, an Amir Khan movie is palatable by orders of magnitude, compared to that of the mega-star of Bollywood - Amitabh Bacchan! To commit to watch an AB movie requires me to absolutely steel my sense of repulsion at that man's self aggrandization, usually (can't think of an exception, but just in case...) with a script and cast that revolves around him, and an entire nation of people that is accepting of this in complete adulation. Yuck!

scritic said...

Hi Mihir! Nice to hear from you!

Actually I'd say it's an ok movie if you can take the relentless preaching!!

I agree that Amitabh's movies have a similar problem sometimes, but I don't mind him so much. I'm more of an Aamir Khan-hater than an Amitabh Bacchan-hater!