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The One Idiot

By on Jan 9, 2010 in Reviews | 9 comments

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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.

One word – What. The. Hell.

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. ;)

Chetan Bhagat gets FULL CREDIT for acting like a retard

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.



9 Comments

    • Ankur

      January 10, 2010

      Post a Reply

      Fortis has special software which allows them to, like, do anything they want.

      Another funny moment was when Aamir hesitated before peeking in to see how the baby was doing when it was being delivered. Couldn’t stop laughing.

      • Aditya

        January 11, 2010

        So where did you see the movie? Any friends accompanying?

      • Ankur

        January 11, 2010

        No, I had to watch this one online. 3 Idiots was released in the UK, but it wasn’t a wide release.

  1. a

    January 11, 2010

    Post a Reply

    Since Bollywood is anytime bigger and richer than Chetan Bhagat,i know CB will become the scapegoat and people will call him the 1 idiot,and everyone wants to fall for the 3 idiots team.But,Chetan Bhagat clearly has justified his case.

    And the whole thing, its not about the percentages.The 12.37% doesnt make any sense.He merely asked to put his name as one of the writers in the ‘Story’ credit,where Raj and Joshi’s name is there unfairly.What is your say bout’ this??

    • Aditya

      January 11, 2010

      Post a Reply

      Why does Chetan has to say that he had never seen the script? He admitted in interviews that he had seen the script twice, and liked it. He also signed the contract which stipulated that his name would appear only in the rolling credits.

    • Ankur

      January 11, 2010

      Post a Reply

      Yeah, about the ‘12.37%’…that’s a joke. :p

      Have you read the book and seen the movie? As Aditya says, Chetan Bhagat said on record (see that Bollywood Hungama interview in the post?) that he’d been read the script, it was significantly different, and “we shouldn’t harp on how much of the original story is there” (paraphrasing). So why is he lying that didn’t happen?

  2. Achyuth Sanjay

    January 14, 2010

    Post a Reply

    The movie was a typical Bollywood movie. I expected a few laughs, got them, and was happy. However, in the Chetan Bhagat controversy, I do tend to side with CB. The point is Rajkumar Hirani did take CB’s permission before making the movie, and said that he wanted to adapt it. A few scenes in the movie are also directly taken from the book. After all this, his name finishing on the credits when the attendants in the theater come in the pick pieces of popcorn up is actually sad. Hirani had nothing to lose by putting CB’s name up front with his and Abhijat Joshi’s name. Whatever he might say, the fact remains that he got the idea for the movie from FPS, and also he has taken a few scenes verbatim from the movie.
    Another point I have to make is the grace factor. Vir Sanghvi sums it up nicely here –

    http://virsanghvi.com/vir-world-ArticleDetail.aspx?ID=415

    • Ankur

      January 14, 2010

      Post a Reply

      Have a look at this video of an interview with Rajkumar Hirani. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6GlHGlq42E The interesting bit is from 3:00 onwards, in case you want to skip through.

      Hirani lays out a good point, that because the plot has been changed significantly from the book, he didn’t want to mislead viewers into thinking they were watching a dramatization of the novel.

      Speaking of grace, Chetan Bhagat’s conduct can also be called into question. He claimed on his blog that he had been kept in the dark about the script, when he has clearly gone on record before saying he’s heard the script multiple times and the story has been changed a lot. (See the embedded Bollywood Hungama interview.) He also claims that approximately three-quarters of the movie is based on the novel, when it’s clearly not. Bhagat should be humble enough to admit the fact that yes, the story is indeed different. If he had admitted this fact and then asked for equal credit vis a vis Slumdog Millionaire, I’m sure he’d have found a lot more popular support.

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