*** Extremely high spoiler alert, please watch the movie before proceeding ***
Early on in the movie when Farhan Qureshi walks into his hostel at the Imeperial College of Engineering on his first day with a character called Millimeter (where else but in a Rajkumar Hirani movie can one encounter such a marvelous name) towing his bags, he pauses and starts taking photos of a few pups. And you know all too well what his choice of profession is going to materialize in this movie which is built on the premise that we all have a passion for something, something which we are good at and that our education system ought to allow us to find that passion rather than just make us bricks-in-the-wall to quote Floyd. Do not expect any surprises in how the other characters lives turn out in the movie though it does have its moments.
As is Hirani's forte his execution of some of the set pieces mainly involving the lighter moments in the movie is impeccable. The by now popular chamatkaar-balaatkar speech followed by the drunken stupor scene following it, where the Type-A Chatur taken for a ride challenges Rancho (yet another stereotype played by Aamir Khan of the guy who tinkers with machines and tops the class without apparently studying) to a Henry-esque 10 year later meeting or the dissolve into black-and-white whenever Raju's (Sharmaan Joshi) poverty ridden family is shown. What really impressed me though was the song "All eez well", which almost like a spinners flighted delivery lulls you into this happy feeling only to end abruptly with a student hanging himself. At times though the movie seemed a pastiche of Dil Chahta Hai (the by now bride ditching the groom at the wedding all too conveniently), Munnabhai and even Scent of a Woman in the scene where Raju is told that in order to save his backside he needs to kick Rancho's.
As much as the first half sets up things deliciously on how life will turn out for all the four protagonists in the first half, the post-interview flatters to deceive. What we really didn't need was Chatur being reduced to a caricature even in his post college life. We have known a lot of such people in my college and they tend to end up being extremely successful by their own definitions of what constitutes success. We also know of a lot of people who take up photography and other non-mainstream engineering professions and cannot make it big like Farhan (publishing > 5 books) and Rancho (more than 400 patents). It maybe speaks of a lack of conviction on the director's part himself that we end up seeing such an obvious affirmation of his message at the ending leaving no room for uncertainty of any kind. Another sore point for us was that for the vast majority of the people in the real world there is really no passion or at least nothing tangible that they can readily and/or easily identify which the movie does not portray.*
Much as we believe that the Hollywood movie It's a wonderful life had a lot of shortcomings, there is a sequence where some of George Bailey's friends come from the city in their fancy cars. When they leave one can sense the frustration of Bailey that everyone else has gone ahead while he has stayed at the same place where he was 10 years back and kicks his car. Though George Bailey's feelings are temporary one can sense that it is not easy to be always convinced of the choices one makes, such things are sadly sandpapered over in 3 Idiots which would have otherwise made an excellent movie instead of just a decent watch.
And finally a word about the performances, for the lead actress of the movie :
1. Do not kiss on screen
2. Do not cry on screen
3. Do not do scenes where you are drunk.
Happy New 2010 to all you folks who still follow this blog, hopefully we will be more regular this decade around.
* -- But a counter point can be that the movie was not even intended for that purpose, which we personally think limits its enjoyment factor for us.