I just recently got around to watching 3 Idiots. Frankly, I wasn’t too excited about the movie despite the hype surrounding it. The star cast and the Aamir Khan - Kareena Kapoor pairing were not enough to make me want to watch the movie.
I’m just not a big fan of campus movies anymore. It’s a world and a life I’ve left way behind - one that I cherish and look back at fondly but one I’ve outgrown nonetheless. And I think real life is what happens after college - when you’re left to meet the challenges of life on your own, when you have real responsibilities and must live up to them, when your survival is in your own hands. So I took my own sweet time to watch 3 Idiots and honestly, I wouldn’t have felt sorry even if I’d let it pass.
I found it to be a very mediocre movie and definitely not worthy of being the highest grossing Bollywood movie ever. I didn’t not like it - it had its share of funny moments…the ‘balatkaar’ speech, the scene where Rancho mixes up all the question papers b/c the professor doesn’t know who is who, the scene where Raju tells the professor how an induction motor starts, and I liked the Wangdu twist at the end. But the entire vacuum cleaner scene and the fact that people were shown committing suicide as if that’s the most fashionable way out of life’s troubles ruined the movie for me. But I’ll give credit to 3 Idiots for getting across a message that perhaps most Indian parents needed to hear. I don’t know how successful they’ve been in doing so - it’s hard to undo years of conditioning after all. But then, Bollywood has the power to impact people in serious ways, so you never know.
Like millions of other kids growing up in India in the 90s, I too was one of the kids growing up in a pressure cooker situation. We were trapped in an educational system that was oppressive, unnecessarily cumbersome and where our entire lives & careers would be determined by a single exam - the Class XII Boards. It encouraged memorization (my Physics teacher used to refer to it as "ingest the knowledge & vomit it all out during the exam, no need to absorb or retain any of it") but didn’t ensure that we were able to get anything out of it at all that we would be thankful for later on in life (except a good command over the English language in my case but most Indian schools don't even guarantee that).
Of course, my parents too wanted me to become a doctor or an engineer or join the Indian Administrative Service (it’s an obsession with people of the “cow belt”) but I rejected all of these options. I decided to study Economics instead because it was logical, made sense to me, was (largely) application based and I enjoyed it much more than Physics, Chemistry or Math, and according to my folks it was the only subject worth studying apart from Science. That pacified them a bit.
College applications were an entirely different story though. In India, you don’t get to decide what subject you want to major in; other people decide what you can or cannot study - which is THE MOST ridiculous and retarded system of education anywhere in the world. (You’re allotted a subject based on the percentage you score in your Class XII exams, irrespective of whether you have an iota of interest in the subject or not. So God help you if you were having an off day during one of those exams, your life could get practically fucked). So, I started applying to colleges in the United States, and turns out that was probably THE best decision I’ve taken in life so far!
But most kids aren’t as lucky as I was....
And then comes this overly simplistic movie which deals with the confusion, stress and disillusionment most teenagers go through when deciding which way to go (medicine/engineering vs listening to your heart) as if it's just a matter of deciding whether you want to wear a yellow dress today or a green one!
The movie gives out a singular message - forget a career that’ll bring you financial security and chase your dreams; you may be barely able to make ends meet but at least you’ll be doing what you want to do. But does the movie show us a way to overcome the frustrations that lack of a good income is bound to generate later on in our lives? It doesn’t, which is why I feel it was too simplistic.
Yes, there are some people who really couldn’t care about how much money they're making but most of us wish to be financially comfortable. Or will do so once the rose-tinted glasses with which we tend to see life while in our teens wear off.
We all have dreams of a nice house, a nice car, of being able to travel the world, being able to afford a good lifestyle and things we like. And the truth is that a corporate job helps us turn those dreams into reality. Sure, it can get really monotonous and stifling at times. We can get stuck in a rut. We start to question whether this is what we wish to be doing with our lives.
Well, we may not like working a 9-to-8 schedule but truth can not be wished away. What a financially secure and rewarding career can give us is also something we desire. They might be mere material possessions but there’s a very good chance we won’t be happy without them either. Life is not always a choice between yellow & green.