I hadn’t read the book, but even before going for the film 3 Idiots, I had heard the movie was based on Five Point Someone. So after seeing the movie, I immediately congratulated Chetan Bhagat on the outstanding philosophy of his book! However, after the controversy, I thought of reading Five Point Someone… and immediately realised the crux of the trouble! The book and the film have about ten to fifteen percent similarity. The book is more of a diary on IIT days without taking a strong stance on anything and without inspiring anyone to think of changing the education system. It has got its locker room humour of friends and is a decent read. But after reading the book, you don’t start thinking of the education system and about how to change it. So, to say that the film 3 Idiots has a lot in common with the book, is totally incorrect…

The Aamir character in the book is a plain rich guy who doesn’t like the education system but does nothing to change it either, completely unlike what Aamir does in the movie. And of course, the character in the book is surely not a gardener’s son, as portrayed in the movie. Neither is he even close to Phunsuk Wangru (the research genius in the movie)… nor does he start a science school… or vanish into oblivion after graduating. The book’s character is not even a topper but one who trudges in last academically. In fact, the book doesn’t even have the quintessential Chatur character, nor does it have even a millimetre of the Javed Jaffrey character. The Principal is not the crazyscientist variety either. And further, the Kareena character in the book actually has an affair with Madhavan; and by the end of the book, they both don’t even get married – they split! Well, that’s how similar the book is to the film. It would be criminal to take away any credit from the extremely talented writers of 3 Idiots and give the story credit to anyone else. Yes, the story surely must’ve been conceptualised around Chetan Bhagat’s book’s characters, but it’s purely a new story.

All I would say is, if you wish to know what is called making a movie out of a book, watch the Clint Eastwood-directed The Bridges of Madison County – you can virtually feel Robert Waller James’ best-selling novel unfold right in front of you, page by page, character by character. Nothing of that sort happens in 3 Idiots. Anyway, that’s not the crux of this article.

On a lighter note, even my mother almost cried after seeing the film. She felt the writers/director must’ve heard me speaking on education during one of my seminars or must have read my articles on the IITs/IIMs and lifted the film idea from there! 🙂 It took me some time to explain to her that Rajkumar Hirani had made a similar film earlier called Munnabhai… and had there too tried to visualise similar things on the education system. Two concerned people can surely think similarly, can’t they? 🙂

Now, coming to the movie, having seen almost every film made anywhere on the education system, I can say that I have not seen a film that has been better made globally! Without getting moralistic, Rajkumar Hirani has mastered the art of making a statement in the most commercial manner, yet retaining a very strong message for all those who care about a message. To me, this film is not about the 3 idiots, it’s a film with a strong message to the many idiots running the education system of this country and to the millions of idiots who accept this system without questioning – in turn ruining the childhood of millions of children and making them handicapped in their abilities for the rest of their lives; not to mention the innumerable lives lost in the form of unfortunate suicides in the process.

It’s time our educators woke up to the fact that the system stinks. Kids spend thirteen years in most schools having no clue about what they are studying and how it’s going to supposedly change their lives. Teachers enter classrooms and teach in the most uninspiring manner without an iota of a passion to change lives or to make education entertaining and interesting. They transform the most interesting subjects into disastrously painful experiences. Parents are no less, ruining the childhood of their kids by trying to live their personal complexes through their children – by labeling it their ‘dream’. And to fulfil these so-called dreams, parents pressurize their children into a crazy race for more marks, a race which has never benefited anyone.

This is what 3 Idiots is about! It’s not a film; it’s education in itself. I should suggest that everyone should go and watch the movie for a second time – and this time to learn, than to get entertained. Because unfortunately, most people I spoke to only got entertained and didn’t learn much. The film by itself, like Raju Hirani’s previous two Munnabhai films, is a parallel system of education for this country’s youth, educators and parents. And that’s why Rajkumar Hirani is the first director ever to feature on The Sunday Indian’s cover!

I don’t want to write more on the education system of this country – I have written too much over the years in our magazines and otherwise too – nor do I want to write what 3 Idiots is all about, for everyone would already have seen it by now. All I want to say is that in the excitement of seeing big boys in their undergarments exclaiming ‘Tohfa Kabul Karo’, one shouldn’t forget the message that the film gives – that engineering colleges are the breeding grounds of some of the most inhumane and perverted ragging in our country, and this needs to be stopped. In the hilarity of the promise that Madhavan makes to marry Sharman’s sister while Sharman is recovering, one must not forget that for every suicide of a young child happening around us – and in the last week we saw quite a few –we all are responsible, with the teachers and the parents. In the fun of seeing Aamir and Kareena kiss, we must not forget that success is not about how much money we make, but about excelling in doing something that we are passionate about. Every line, every scene of 3 Idiots is packed with a message and a lifetime’s education. I hope we don’t miss that. Because then the whole point of making such films will be a waste, despite the movie becoming such a totally deserving monstrous blockbuster!



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