Those of you who are in India would be well aware of the controversy about Chetan Bhagat and the ‘movie based on his novel’, 3 Idiots. While a scene-by-scene analysis of the movie/novel is fairly pointless, the debate as to what the movie was based on intrigued. “What,” I thought, “is this movie that Chetan Bhagat is going all out to steal credit for (and his mom is shedding tears over)?” I had to find out. The first thing I did is to go watch the trailer.
I showed this to some of my (English) friends here, and they were pretty confused as to why a movie whose official trailer features half-naked men bathing, shitting, and ‘singing’ garbled English phrases would go on to make a hit a movie. This trailer doesn’t help break the stereotype that all Bollywood movies are not just about song-and-dance routines (though they are). And how exactly do you think I’m supposed to explain the Bihar-ised version of English used? I didn’t even attempt to negotiate that one, saying “They characters probably suffer from some speech impediment”.
Chetan Bhagat says on his blog that “the film is 70% the book”. After watching the movie, I beg to disagree; the 3 Idiots movie plot is similar to only 12.37% of the Five Point Someone book. The fact that he got this basic mathematics wrong shows how bad investment bankers are with math and why we’ve ended up in a recession. But who cares, right? We are all friends here! That’s not the right way to approach the problem, is it? Yup, precisely the sentiments echoed by Chetan Bhagat himself in this interview he gave to Bollywood Hungama. He also says in the interview that he’s heard the script 2-3 times, although he’s been claiming that he never read the script.
(On a technical note, I know the video editing of the interview is shite. Seems that clips from different takes were taken and stitched together. Tut, tut. Such unprofessional work.)
At one point in the movie, a character (Chatur) threatens to sue some other characters in a US court for taking his trousers off (in India). I couldn’t help laughing my head off when watching the movie over that comment, as Chetan Bhagat once tweeted about a ‘helpful legal analysis by an IP expert’. The so-called IP expert says:
@Vinayak: Get your basics correct dude!
In UNITED STATES “Copyright confers the following constitutional “exclusive Right” of “Authors” to their works includes the rights “to do and to authorize any of the following”
Chetan Bhagat then says on Twitter that he has a ‘damn good case’ on this basis of this ‘legal analysis’. He wants to sue the filmmakers for a (non-existent) case based in India in a US court, or vice versa. Either way, it shows how much common sense Bhagat lacks. Bhagat just seems to be as whiny and bitchy as that Chatur character if he thinks that he can use US laws to sue them. Legal experts from Bangladesh too have lent support to Chetan Bhagat, pointing out how what has been done to him is illegal in Bangladesh. ;)
The movie itself is typical Bollywood ‘boy falls in love with girl’ with a few add-ons. Ever noticed how in Bollywood movies people are going about speaking as if they are retards? Have you ever come across people in real life who speak so melodramatically every moment of their life? But I don’t hold it against the filmmakers. They had to make something that would work mass-market, and not just for the ‘multiplex audience’.
Product placement when done in Hollywood movies can be irritating, but when done in a Bollywood movie is even more irritating. Purely because it seems SO out of place. What’s the need to have the Airtel ringtone in Ladakh, or show an Airtel USB GPRS modem being plugged into a laptop when a video conference is being set up with a coma patient in a hospital?
The worst product misplacement though is Fortis Hospital. Aamir Khan‘s character drives in a patient on the back of a scooter, and drives the scooter right into a patient ward in Fortis. The lesson we learn from this is that Fortis has piss poor security and risks its patients getting infected by allowing people to drive scooters into their wards. Read that again for a minute and contemplate on how ridiculous that sounds. Every now and then you’re shown the Fortis logo, and helpful doctors helping out poor patients. So much like the Fortis we all know, isn’t it? At one point, when a character is trying to deliver a baby, there’s a whole team of Fortis nurses and doctors standing – with handy flip charts – by guiding Aamir Khan’s character on how to deliver a baby. This involves using a vacuum cleaner and physically trying to push the baby out by pressing down on a woman’s belly. I’m sure THAT is not mentioned in any medical practices book.
It’s typical Bollywood fare, but with mildly intellectual jokes – of a level that Chetan Bhagat is truly not capable of. I did chuckle at the bits where they shot scenes in black-and-white Hindi movie style, or how they had hamsters running around in cages at the ‘inventor’ school. Oh, and the ‘sue you in a US court’ statement. :D I appreciate how the filmmakers attempted to make a few witty jokes in an otherwise run-of-the-mill mindless Hindi movie.
The message that the movie carries though is a valid one. No, the movie isn’t about “subverting authority”. If anything, the movie encourages creativity and studying to actually learn concepts than attempt exams. Overall the standard is average, but watch it if only to understand how different it is from the book – and how Chetan Bhagat truly is The One Idiot. Like, the fucking Neo of idiots.
PS – I forgot to add this in the original version of this post. The movie wins the award for ‘Most Ridiculous CPR in a Motion Picture Ever‘ hands-down. Basically, Aamir Khan has delivered a baby by pulling it out using a vacuum cleaner, and the baby is not responding. They try to revive the baby and nothing seems to work. Cue melodramatic sobs. And then, they say “Aal Izz Well” and the baby comes back to life.