Sunday, January 10, 2010

3 Idiots : Brave New world?

I saw 3 Idiots. I enjoyed the movie for its humor and refreshing screenplay. I did my share of analysis. Here it is.

The things I enjoyed: Most of the Hindi movies, sparing a few, are based on ideas that dont really matter. The main theme of the movies are generally love stories with some random story build up to keep you entertained for couple of hours. I am just saying that I liked this movie because it was a refreshing change. The movie does talk about some current ideas and problems. The dialogue was extremely funny. Also, interestingly the actors looked like there were college students even though couple of them are in their late thirties and early forties.

The central theme of this movie happens to revolve around the following ideas

1) Do(Focus on) what you like or what you enjoy and make that your career.
2) Be brave and do not worry too much about the consequences.
3) Some light is thrown on the problems faced in the current education system.

Let me talk about Point #1.

This message is apt in the context of globalization which is bringing lot of opportunities to India. Job security and financial independence is relatively easy these days(After sweeping reforms in the early nineties which ended License Raj). A few decades back(during the License Raj), it was almost impossible to succeed(sometimes, even to make your ends meet) by taking a non-mainstream path. But, globalization today has made such a feat possible. So the message even though apt for the current generation of India is not a radically new idea. It has been expressed in various western books and movies of other countries which experienced staggering growth like India is experiencing today.

Even though this message is apt for the current India, encouraging individuality, taking risking by choosing non-mainstream career goals is not free of problems. I think the chief one being the one that was talked about in a recent article in WSJ, i.e, the lack of social security benefits in India. One of my dad's colleagues told me jokingly couple of years back that for people in India, the children are their social security. What he meant was, in western countries if kids leave home to follow their dreams (or are not earning enough in their off-stream venture) and if their old folks need medical or financial support there is a system (Social Security) that tries to take care of this problem which is lacking in India.

I also wished the movie would have been more mature in treating the antagonists. I will get into specifics so that fans of the movie know exactly what I am talking about. They treat the antagonist (called 'silencer') in very bad light. He is tied up, he is ridiculed in a silly way for being a person who crams his books without understanding what he crammed and also ridiculed for apparently not accepting when he lets go of his gaseous build up in his colons :). I think it is important to realize that he is just a victim of the system and he does whatever it takes to get to the next stage. At best you feel pity for him rather than disdain.

Another quibble is that the movie naively and indirectly sends a message that doing what you like will always reward you which seems to be a quixotic idea at best. I think Ayn Rand has done a better justice to this philosophy in her book 'Fountain Head'. If I contrast that book to this movie, one of the antagonists (similar to silencer in this movie) has all the money, a beautiful wife and all the necessary social frills to look great and successful. However, he, the antagonist, suffers from a deep feeling of insecurity because of which he never believes he is any good compared to the Protagonist, Howard Roarke. Unlike the antagonist, Howard Roarke is not financially well off and has no social life. But he is free of any mental insecurities because he always chose and did what he believed and what he liked.

I suspect that if they would had shown the protagonist of the movie as a less successful man than the antagonist (Silencer)

a) The movie probably would not have been so popular :)

b) There might have been contractual obligations with the author of the book this movie was inspired from which prevented that from happening.

Let me talk about #2.

I agree with the message in its entirety, but if I have to nit pick, it is just the way the message was delivered by one of the 'idiots', Raju Rastogi, in a scene where he is being interviewed by a person of banking company(I think). The banker/interviewer says that he needs somebody who is diplomatic and polite to a client and that Raju Rastogi's 'straight forward' and 'in your face' attitude may not be apt. At which point Raju Rastogi says that he will not compromise on his attitude. when he hears that the Banker/Manager offers him the job which at best seems dishonest and throws the idea the banker is probably not doing what is best for his company. If I had written the screen play, I would have changed the banker's response to "See Raju, you are not fit for my company ABC, but I know couple of people who work in different domain where your qualities will work best. I could help you by recommending you for an interview with them."

Regarding the last message #3.

I do believe the education system in general (there are specific syllabuses that do) does not encourage rational thinking and innovation like many of the more advanced countries like Japan and Singapore. But I do think the problem is not in college level, but at school level.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicely written post, I agree with most of your comments.
Regarding #1, most of the Indian parents are saying that 3 idiots is a bad movie because it preaches to kids "Dont study!". They have totally misconstrued the message of the movie, which you have summarized so aptly, "Follow your dreams".

Regarding #2, I agree that the caricatures were exaggerated. But they do act as perfect foils to the "hero" of the movie and emphasize the message of the movie. I havent read "The Fountainhead" but I have read "Atlas Shrugged." In that, Ayn Rand also makes use of foils such as James Taggart and a professor guy (forgot his name), who are completely vilified, which I think is unnecessary in Atlas Shrugged. At least, Silencer provided us with a really good laugh, which is hard to find in todays inane hindi movies.

Keep the writing going!

11:51 AM  

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