REVIEW: 3 Idiots: A Close Look at the Real Meaning of Learning


Aal Izz Well!

Chase excellence and success will follow, pants down. 
I think I have told you about the Asian movie fad that I am currently trapped in. After downloading several Thai movies recommended by my Facebook friends, I came across a Hindi movie released in 2009. At first, I didn't really give much thought about it since I am not really a fan of Bollywood (what with all the dance number and stuff [no offense meant]) but a closer look at  the positive reviews that most people have given it, I have decided to see for myself and check whether it really deserves the praise it's been getting. 

The movie is entitled 3 Idiots. It was directed by Rajkumar Hirani and was produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra starred Aamir Khan, R. Madhavan  and Sharman Joshi. The screenplay was a collaboration of  the director, the producer and Abhijat Joshi ; it was "loosely-based" on the novel Five Point Someone by Chetan Baghat.

According to Wikipedia, it was the highest grossing film in its opening weekend in India and also has the highest opening day collection for a Bollywood film. The film was  a critical success, winning several awards  including two Best Pictures, two Best Directions and two Best Screenplays. 

Now, what is the movie about and why all the rave?

*Spoiler Alert* I give crappy summaries so please refer to other websites for better synopsis of the movie. :)

The movie was basically about the friendship of three engineering students who came from different walks of life. One was forced to be an engineer (Farhan), the other one sought engineering as a way to get out of poverty (Raju) and the third was there because of his love for learning (Rancho). The movie revolves around their past experiences and the former two's pursuit of Rancho, their long-lost friend that they haven't seen since graduation.

It starts with the scene on an airplane. Farhan (played by Madhavan) received a call from a former classmate, the Silencer [also known as Chatur], saying that Rancho is going to meet them. Exalted by the news, he fakes a heart attack to abort the flight and rushes to the Imperial College of Engineering, picking up Raju along the way. Disappointment welcomes them when they find out that the invitation was an utter lie and Rancho is nowhere in sight; the only person present is Chatur, who proudly boasted about his achievements in life. Angered by the misleading invitation, they set forth on a journey with Chatur to find Rancho and see what happened to him. 

The entire movie was framed in recurring flashbacks (from Farhan's point of view) and the present day (ten years after Chatur swore that he will be more successful than Rancho)

Farhan recounted the first time he met Rancho. It was during an initiation done by senior students to freshmen students in the Imperial College of Engineering. Rancho arrives during the initiation and refuses to bow down to the senior guys. Angered at the insolence, one of the senior students retaliated and threatened to pee on his [Rancho's] door every single day. Rancho fights back with an impromptu invention; using a live wire and spoon, hr electrocutes the senior student. Since then, the three [Rancho, Farhan and Raju] became inseparable as they shared the same room in the dormitory. 

Farhan then introduced Professor Viru Shahastrabuddhe [or Virus, as most students call him]--- a mean and competitive teacher who also served as the Dean of the college. He warns the freshmen how difficult life is in ICE and mentions about an astronaut's pen that his former professor gave him. He said inventors have spent millions of dollars inventing that pen and he will give that pen to a very remarkable student, if he ever found any [ unfortunately, for the past 30 years, he hasn't found THE one]. Rancho pops in a question asking Virus why the astronauts couldn't just used a pencil in outer space because it could have saved them millions of dollars. Virus was surprised at the impertinent question and was apparently unable to answer the question. 

As time in the college went by, the animosity between Virus and Rancho grew, the former labeling Rancho and his friends [ Raju and Farhan] idiots. Virus hated Rancho for his carefree attitude and strongly advised the Raju and Farhan to stay away from the latter's  company. Rancho, with his happy-go-lucky attitude, impressed on the importance of understanding instead of just doing mindless memorization. He believes that the professor in ICE are constantly pressuring the students to get high grades regardless of whether they understand the subjects or not. 

(I will mention the next part although the entire story can do without it because this is my most favorite scene/  I believe this is the strongest, most effective and touching part of the film)

One student named Joy Lobo was like Rancho, eager to learn, good in his subjects; his only problem was that it's taking him a long time to finish his final project :  making a toy plane fly. He asks Virus about the date of the convocation because the whole village from where he came from are too excited about it since he will be the first engineer in their community. The wrathful devil gives his phone to Joy, asks him to call up his father and   brutally tells Joy's father that he will not graduate on time. This breaks Joy's heart and Rancho sees the encounter. He tried to help Joy by fixing the plane. He succeeds in doing so. His plan was to fly the plane over Joy's window and see his reaction from the video camera attached to the plane. It turned out that the joke was on them because as they flew the plane, they saw Joy's lifeless body dangling on the ceiling, a noose around his neck. They run to his room and saw Joy's suicide letter on the wall with two words. "I QUIT." (I cried during this part. T_T) At the funeral, Rancho approaches Virus and tells him that according to the reports it was suicide. He adds that Virus is lucky because even Joy's family thinks its suicide, nobody knew that Joy's death was not suicide but murder...murder from the pressure that Virus exerted on Joy. 

After the incident, Virus writes a letter to Raju's and Farhan's family. As a result, Raju stays away from Rancho and Farhan. They soon reconciliate when Rancho barely saves Raju's father from death with the help of Pia, Virus's daughter, whom they met at a wedding party.

An unfortunate incident happened when Raju was expelled from the school after he was caught peeing on Virus's front door. Virus' gave him two options: save himself and testify against Rancho or get expelled from the school. Unable to choose, Raju jumps out of the window and nearly dies. He spent months in coma but with the help of Rancho and Farhan, he got better. Virus took back the expulsion because of Raju's accident. 

Rancho convinces the two to follow their dreams. Farhan, who was forced to be an Engineering student by his family, wanted to be a wildlife photographer. Rancho helped him by posting a letter that Farhan once wrote but was never able to send to a professional photographer in Brazil. He also convinced Farhan to confess to his father what his true ambition is. Raju on the other hand, who kept fearing about the future, got the job he wanted just because he followed Rancho's advice to not be scared and just face the future without qualms of hesitations. 

Rancho and Virus make amends when Rancho helps Virus' daughter to give birth. Virus apologizes to Rancho and gives him the astronaut pen, saying how remarkable he is as a student.

Back to the present, the three found out that Rancho's name was not really Rancho. He was actually a gardener's son who was sent to school using the name  of a wealthy Indian man's son to get a degree for him (the son). The real Rancho told Raju and Farhan that Rancho, whose real name is Chote, was living in a remote place in India as a school teacher. Chatur laughts at Rancho/Chote's fate, ridiculing his ideals before that the existing system was not good for being successful. They stop Pia's wedding along the way, convinces her to not marry the groom (whom she doesn't love) and drives to where Chote is. 

They finally see Chote and it was revealed that he was the scientist that Chatur was revering about, thus proving that Chhote was right all along that by doing what you love, you'll become successful in life. Chote was reconciled with Pia (they get married) and his two long lost buddies while Chatur cried and apologized for insulting Chote. :) 

(I'm sorry for the crappy summary) :p

What I liked about this movie: 
I didn't really like the movie, no. I LOVED IT. There are a lot of parts that you will adore, from the well-written script to the life-lessons that its trying to get across to the audience. I can make a list but it can never justify how I loved this movie, so below is the best that I can do. 

a. The Quotable Quotes. One of the things I look for in a good movie are the well-written dialogues of the characters and in this movie, you just have an abundance of them. (Click here for a separate entry.) One particular tagline of the movie was written at the start of this post "Chase excellence and success will follow". It is an eye-opening line that should be the mantra of every person. We have been to consumed with chasing money and fame, buying beautiful houses and cars and having all of the material things in this world that we forget to just appreciate the beauty of life and the simple things that make us human. The movie impresses on that and you will have to be a shallow piece of ass if you don't get the message. :(

b. The Lessons. One recurring thing in the movie is the pressure exerted by the people around us: our family, our fears of the future, our professors, society itself. It shows the real impact of this outside pressure to the human soul. We have given too much importance on the norms that we have set that we come to the point of "reification", making these standards bigger than us. It shows a different perspective on suicide. It is not a cowardly thing. It's basically murder. Quoting Rancho, scientists have discovered a lot of devices to measure a lot of things but they have never invented a device to measure the mental pressure that we feel, doing so will prove that the suicide is not suicide but simply murder...murder committed by the people who expect too much from us, so much more than we are capable to give. 

c. The Characters. Although the characters represent different archetypes of the human being, they are too realistic and relatable that you can't help seeing yourself  in them. Although they are quite exaggerated versions of these human archetypes, they still embody someone or something that we have met somewhere along the path of life. And can I just say that the actors are really very effective? :)) 

d. The Soundtrack. Okay, I am not really a fan of the dancing and booty-shaking but the songs in this movie are quite ear-gasmic. Actually, while I was watching it, I couldn't help thinking "Ohmygod, I need to get a copy of that song!"every time a new song is being played. The songs added the flavor and emotions to the movie. Three of my favorites are Give Me Some Sunshine, Jaane Nahi Denge Tuhje and Behti Saha Tha Woh. And of course, who would forget the epic Aal iz Well. See the music video below. 

e. The Recurring Theme of Friendship. I am very big on friendship.  I only have a few trusted friends, I can count them with my fingers. I love how they depicted the genuine relationship between the three characters, helping each other out in times of need, searching the lengths of the Earth just to find that buddy you've lost a long time ago... it sounds cheesy I know, but sue me, I'm cheesy like that. 

What I didn't like about this movie. 

The dance numbers. Of course, dance numbers are one of the identifying factors of Bollywood films and I can't really take that away from them. But the dance numbers in this movie are....weird, for some reason. I am not a big fan of booty shaking and huge production numbers because I think they are totally irrelevant and funny and absolutely cheesy. Don't hate on me, that's just my two cents. :p


I would give this movie 9.4 chocolates. It would have gotten a perfect score but of course,  I have to shave off some points for the dance numbers. :) It's a perfect movie if you want something that will make you feel good or if you are in the middle of your soul-searching or an identity crisis. I strongly recommend it for students who are about to start college because it teaches so much about the values that we should have during the four magical years of our lives. It is a movie for everybody. It is cheesy but it gets the message across and that's what every movie should aim for. 

So next time everything works out badly in your life, just put a hand over your heart and say "Aal iz well". 

Now everybody say it with me, Aal Iz Well. :) 

Here's the trailer of the movie, for everyone who is curious about it. 

You can also watch the movie in Youtube. Here's the link

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