3 Idiots is a gem of an entertainer with purpose and substance, deftly crafted by director Rajkumar Hirani, with Aamir Khan's central character Rancho destined to become a mythical hero every collegian and school goer would worship. With the Munnabhai films under his belt, Raju Hirani had a lot to live up to with his third film, and every expectation of the audience is not only fulfilled but exceeded in ample proportions; and Aamir Khan's superlative performance makes this one of his finest films to date. There was a lot of speculation as to whether a 44 year old veteran actor could play a 22 year old youth in college, and the star has again pulled it off with great aplomb.
The film begins with two friends Farhan Qureshi (R. Madhavan ) and Raju Rastogi (Sharman Joshi) and a nemesis of the past setting out on a journey to find the charismatic and mysterious Rancho, who not only influenced their lives but indelibly affected everything around them. As the journey proceeds, the two friends reminisce their encounters with Rancho aka Ranchoddas Shamaldas, at the college of engineering they attended together. While the pursuit of education is all the students work towards, Rancho sets an example by persevering in the pursuit of life; fulfilling his dream rises above all else, and brings him in conflict with the stern principal Viru Sahastrabudhhe aka Virus, both astutely and funnily played by Boman Irani, completing his hat trick with Raju Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra. The ideals of the principal and the rebellious student clash, and the education system we adhere to with all its flaws becomes the moot point. The student suicides that our country faces is examined with heart and attention, at the same time the film does not digress from its sole intent to entertain, a difficult task but ably pulled off. While the financial difficulties the family of Raju is undergoing is brought out with touching humor, Farhan's career choice of engineering vs. photography in the face of family pressure is beautifully fleshed out.
There is enough and more detail in every aspect of the storytelling effort, and the screenplay by Hirani and Abhijat Joshi is a fine piece of writing that is destined to become one of the greatest screenplays in Indian Cinema history. But what is really extraordinary is the film's balance of heart and mind. Yes, there are standard plot points like Kareena Kapoor's Pia as Virus' daughter, who Rancho falls in love with, but even these are wonderful respites that you devour into, with scenes like the wedding of her sister which the 3 idiots gate crash making the film a repeat watch; another gem is the scene in the college auditorium when two words, chamatkaar and balaatkarm are funnily confused to evoke side splitting laughter. But the humor is wonderfully contrasted with grave messages strewn regularly, an aspect of the film that must be experienced, and something this review will not give away too much of, especially the interval which has to be experienced and is a shocker that we will not get into in this review. All izzz Well with 3 Idiots on the music front also, with the Udtee Hawa song a fine creation of Swanand Kirkire’s lyrics set to Shantanu Moitra's music, playing out as the journey takes off in the beginning. C. K. Muraleedharan's wide canvas cinematography of the journey through Simla, coupled with the closed door classroom detailing, and the colourful wedding celebration and romantic song Zoobi Doobi as a vibrant contrast, makes the film visually very appealing, adding to the calibre of the actors' enactments under deft directorial control.
Chase your dream and shine like the 3 Idiots.