Where 3 idiots fail

3 idiots is undoubtedly a brilliantly entertaining movie that captures the decay in the Indian education system. It celebrates creativity and pragmatism over convention and principles. However, where the film fails is its failure to rise above conventional stereotypes of “success”.

The film impresses when it encourages the protagonists to pursue their passions and undertake a non-conformist path. The motto (of Baba Ranchhoddas) to strive for excellence and not run after success confronts the non-creative and tyrannical nature of the education system.

However, the movie disappoints by rewarding the lead character Rancho played by Aamir Khan with the same old definition of success that it earlier confronts. He emerges as a brilliant scientist with some 400 patents to his name and the one whom Chatur, a product of the nerd is seeking to woo.

In fact, even the other friend is shown, though subserviently, rewarded in the stereotypical definition of success. Farhan, played by Madhavan has authored several books on “Wildlife” which in a way is testimony to his “successful” career.

Perhaps Rajkumar Hirani was more concerned about doing Bollywood-style justice to the “rebellious” student by making “success” in the form of Chatur run after Rancho as promulgated by the erstwhile Baba Ranchhoddas. One can argue that the school which Rancho runs towards the end of the film is enough testimony to his victory. And in his own definition.

Morality of 3 idiots and Chetan Bhagat? Afterthoughts of Chetan Bhagat and 3 idiots controversy

The basis of Chetan Bhagat’s argument over not giving him “due credit” in the film 3 idiots has been moral and not legal.

Bhagat had entered into a contract with Vinod Chopra Films Private Ltd, under which he assigned the rights of film adaptation to the production house. He was given a certain sum of money in return. The author admits to this and there is no confusion here.

What Bhagat has argued is about the credits in the film and its attribution to the novel. For the first two times that I watched the film, I missed the credit to the author just like Bhagat’s mother did. It squeezes in one line “Based on the novel “Five Point Someone” by Chetan Bhagat”, at the end of the film just before the Special Thanks begin. The script writer Abhijat Joshi is credited right at the start of the movie. Moreover, Bhagat is also upset with what the producers’ have claimed – that the movie contains only 5 percent of the book.

Having read Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone and watched the movie it is quite easy to draw comparisons between them. The script of 3 idiots borrows significantly from the book and one cannot dispute this. (For similarities you can follow the link)

When a journalist had interrogated Vidhu Vinod Chopra about the similarity, the producer of the film had very wryly questioned “have you read the book?” When the journalist answered in the negative, he said “Then Shut Up.” I would have interpreted it as - then “Go and first read the book.” It is difficult to ascertain that the controversy meant an increase in the sale of Five Point Someone or more audiences for 3 idiots. But I know of at least 10 people who read the book only after the controversy. And many others who had earlier read the book and now watched the movie to find out about the controversy that the media was highlighting. Thus, both the parties benefitted.

I am not saying that everything was scripted. But, both the author and the actor are known to market their products in a number of "different" ways. Who knows?

The views expressed in the article are personal.