3 Idiots: Nice film, but not quite a Cheeni Kum, and certainly not a Sholay

As I have mentioned a couple of times in earlier blogs, I do not watch an awful lot of movies anymore, at least not as many Hindi movies as I used to in the past. One of the reasons has to do with the kind of movies that have been churned out in recent years, complete with violence and gore and blood, and scripts without muscle. Of course, I do watch the odd movie such as Cheeni Kum, which I found wonderfully engaging.

Inspired by all the talk about 3 Idiots grossing more than Rs 300 crore in 18 days of its release and with Aamir Khan back in focus again on prime time television, I decided to “go for it”. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a fabulous effort by the winning team of Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra. The film was widely advertised as a sort of ‘mother of Bollywood comedies’, but frankly I did not find myself bursting into splits of laughter at regular intervals.

Some of the reviews and people who have seen the film have exclaimed in superlative terms about the acting skills of Aamir and co. Not one to go gaga all so easily, I found the acting adequate, not superlative or anything of that sort. Indeed, the film didn’t need that kind of acting prowess. With actors like Aamir and Boman Irani, even Parikshit Sahni (an old favourite of mine as was his elder brother Balraj… remember Balraj in Ek Phool Do Mali?), you do expect a certain level of performance. And they have not disappointed here.

One of the highlights is, of course, Aamir not only playing the part of an engineering student (Rancho) effortlessly but also looking very much a student despite his crossing 40. Boman Irani scores with his gait, his slouch, his purse of lips and his lisping. Sharman Joshi as Raju Rastogi is just about all right, while Madhavan, as Farhan Qureshi could have done much better. His breaking into frequent bursts of laughter is irritating.

In all of this, Kareena Kapoor has hardly to do anything, except during that bizarre child-delivery scene where she, from her self-imposed exile elsewhere, implodes her sister to keep “pushing” and Aamir to do the right things, even if it means sucking the baby out, head first, with the help of a vacuum cleaner. Ever heard of such a thing before? And then Aamir dipping his head repeatedly inside the bed sheet to nudge the baby into proper position to get the vacuum cleaner started was actually sickening. Well, it’s a Hindi movie after all!

Coming back to Kareena, I sometimes wonder why actors as well paid as she is should essay such inconsequential roles. If it is to provide the oomph factor, she hasn’t been successful. She just passes off as a pretty young thing. That extra something that keeps your eyes riveted on a woman and makes you want her to keep appearing on every frame is just not there. Did I say I am looking forward to watching Ishqiya?

The 3 Idiots storyline is fine… at least there are a few pertinent messages. But the messages are not about things we do not know or haven’t heard before. Don’t all of us know that children in schools in India are a taxed lot? Don’t we know that they are often forced (by parents) into taking subjects they are not happy with? Don’t we know that many of them are afraid to open their mind and talk about what they actually like doing, petrified of fathers or mothers who are intent on driving them to work as slaves? What the film urges youngsters to do is to be bold and pursue what they want in life, like Farhan in the film pursues his love of photography.

I absolutely loved the name of the protagonist – Rancchoddas Shyamaldas Chanchad – and that of the professor as well – Viru Sahastrabudhhe. Wow! And also the name Phunsukh Wandu, who is what Rancho is really, as it turns out in the end.

Would I watch the movie again? No. Maybe months later at home on a DVD, or I wouldn’t care. With Cheeni Kum, the feeling was different – I had wanted to watch it all over again… and again. And with Sholay… well, I could watch it everyday. That’s what we call a classic, isn't it?


Susan Deborah said…
I am prompted by this post to ask you, why did you enjoy 'Cheeni Kum' so much?

I liked the way you said that you liked the names . . . Funny!

You can watch 'Sholay' everyday??? I bet you can't.

Joy always,
Sashi Nair said…
Why I enjoyed Cheeni Kum so much? Well, any romantic would, i guess... and then there was Tabu...
Susan Deborah said…
Tabu, yes. The same reason I enjoyed it for - Amitabh Bachan and his pony!

Joy always,

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