Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Confederacy of Idiots.

So I watched 3 Idiots, and it was shall I put this? 'Terrible' sounds like it would fit, but 'saddening' sounds closer to what I'm feeling.

An IIT-graduate is the Indian Elvis-cum-pornstar. I know that. I grew up in Tamil Nadu, for Christ's sake. I was interested in this movie because I thought the story had a fertile premise; three young men make it to an institution that everyone and their brother wants to go to. They all have their issues and they deal with them. Eventually they learn that happiness is when you do what you enjoy. And of course, there is an endearingly awkward romance alongside the main story. I thought it would make for a good movie, because of all the above, and also, um, because of the inexplicable crush I have on Sharman Joshi. Ahem.

But it wasn't a good movie. It wasn't even an indifferent movie. It was a ridiculously bad movie, and a large part of the problem was the shallow characterisation.

I mean, who was that shifty-eyed guy with the permanently guilty expression of a four year old caught with its fist in a jam jar? I've never seen a seventeen year old with that expression, and it annoyed me because it was clearly meant to be 'cute'. I am not a fan of 'cute', especially when the allegedly 'cute' person is employing said 'cuteness' to come off as childlike and endearingly naughty. I also intensely dislike it when the whole deal has the 'Look at me! Aren't I cutely childlike and cutely naughty? Aren't I just so irresistibly cute?' vibe about it.

Along with being cute, Aamir also multitasks as a saint. He has no flaw. Not one. He never gets angry, impatient, tired or frustrated, would risk his career for his friends, who, incidentally, he neither ever fights with nor grows impatient with, and is basically a ray of freaking sunshine. He eats rainbows and shits butterflies. He divides all of his time between being -

1. cute
2. shiny
3. a genius, and;
2. preachy

Which brings us to another itchy spot; isn't it enough being a genius these days? Or is there a group of critics somewhere complaining that they're tired of plain ol' geniuses, and that geniuses who are also saints are the new in-things?

My point is, Mahatma Gandhi wasn't a playback singer, a gymnast, an Olympic gold-medallist and a mathematician alongside being a political activist. He was just a political activist. And he was a genius. And that should be enough for us, unless we plan to convert the IIT-JEE into a qualifying paper for the priesthood. Which we haven't, so there's no need to be this creepily saintly.

As for the preachiness, my God, seriously. It's almost as though the moviemakers are telling us, "See, here is the point!Have you got the point?" And then they pick up the point and hit us on the head with it multiple times, just to make sure we've got the bloody point. What happened to subtlety in filmmaking? Perhaps more importantly, what is this precious point?

Who knows? It's there somewhere, suffocated under all the rubbish that was put in to, I don't know, accessorise it? But seriously, why disguise the perfectly simple and interesting point of the movie with a stormy-night-childbirth, a runaway bride, Ladakh, Shimla, 400 patents, an identity-swap and Javed Jaffrey's father's ashes in a toilet bowl? Why was there so. much. clutter?!

Th clutter really really annoyed me.

But what annoyed me even more than all of the above multiplied by 100000, was fellow movie-goers admitting that perhaps the central character was ridiculously saintly, the principal cartoonishly evil, and movie clumsily made, but it was a brilliant movie nevertheless because it had a message.

Now the above statement is so very WTF that it is difficult to immediately respond to it.

The message - howsoever goodhearted - of a movie, can never excuse bad execution. Especially when the message is nothing original; that is not to say that all good messages are original. I firmly believe that the education system in India requires some serious reconsideration.

However that is not the message in this movie. The only message in this movie is that you could die from peeing on a spoon. (Corollary - Spoons are potentially evil.)

And that, my friends, is simply not good enough.

Badly played, gentlemen.


St.Banger said...

you go to a commercial movie with an expectation that it would be realistic and non-filmy. hence, the disappointment. didn't the very first scene tell you how the movie was going to be? it struck me in the middle of watching avtar, that good movies have damned me to the extent that i can't enjoy pop cinema. that's when i started to look for "relief points", where i am just trying to find at least one good thing about these movies and console myself, that i haven't wasted my money.

narendra shenoy said...

That spoon thing is seriously dangerous. I'm sure some idiot is going to try it sooner or later and end up killing some poor jerk in a very painful manner.

I thought the acting was bright and cheerful. Agree with the shallowness ofthe characters. the plot totally sucks too.

And funny you should saythat about Sharman Joshi. The missus found him "sweet". I thought he was a dweeb and said so, thereby recieving an earful about how prosaic men are

Mudra said...

Now, I enjoyed the movie. It was really no more stereotypical/in-your-face than any other normal Hindi movie, and 20 years of watching Hindi movies have blunted my mind to accepting this as normal. :)

High five on Sharman Joshi! Finally someone else finds him really cute too :D

Jil Jil Ramamani said...

Sharman Joshi eej mine! I laid claim right back in his Sorry Bhai times.

The one FTW moment was the Phunsuk Wangdoo anti climax. And yes, Kareena Kapoor was a pain to watch.

Silencer was the most adorable in the movie :D

Saurabh Panshikar said...

After reading all goody goody stuff about 3 idiots, it was a pleasant change reading some bashing!

I guess Bollywood Masala is not for you! lol

Even me like the Uganda guy the most. Cool Accent

ramsub said...

even I didn't like the movie! twas stupid.

iyer girl said...

it was an awesome movie.. and dear dear divya.. hw can u know me and publicly comment that flawless characters do not exist.. tch u naive naive girl

Spaz Kumari said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Spaz Kumari said...

@st banger - commercial movies can be really good. rocket singh had a huge bunch of flaws as well, but it was a good movie. lowering expectations is not the answer.

@shenoy saar - it was cheerful all right, and i luuuuuuuurved sharman joshi! so cute, ah my heart :) :P

@mudra - oh you have NO idea HOW many people apparently find sharman joshi cute. we're not alone. :(

@sindhu - strangely i did not think karmam kapoor was all that painful to watch. she's toned down the madwoman grins, i noticed. and her gujju food dialogue was classic :D

@saurabh - oh no, i love masala! but this wasn't good masala.

ramsub - i thought as much. :)

iyer girl - *comment deleted*

gawker said...

Very funny review. I have often complained about the lack of subtlety, not just in Bollywood movies, but in everything we Indians do. Even while conversing with people, we have the need to emphasize our point, not merely through words, but also through contorted facial expressions and frantic gesticulating. Subtlety is not one of our finer points.

Anonymous said...

seriously...u consider Rocket Singh better than 3 idiots...u got some issues man!!

I just get a feeling that you were trying to be DIFFERENT and KOOL here. Everyone liked the movie, I am going to disagree. The movie was terrible! huh

3 idiots is a masala has entertainment written all over it. there is not 1 scene in the movie when u are not smiling. Ok i take that back, thr were some serious scenes...but basically u had a smile on your face for 3 hrs non-stop.

I think, u just went with way too high expectations and the movie didnt live up to it.

Just out of curiosity, what are your views on other hirani movies (the munnabhai series)

bongopondit said...

Awesome review...

"He eats rainbows and shits butterflies."

This has to be the QOTD(ecade), even if the decade just began (or is just ending depending on your POV).

V said...

I'm glad I found someone else who dislikes the movie for the same reasons as I do. We are a minority so we need to procreate. I'm willing to help spread this message.

gkam said...

3 idiots was entertaining masala typical bollywood flick, and I liked it.

However I completely agree with u on aamir khan's role... too preachy and too-good-to-be-true sorts.

Kaushik said...

After 2 stupendous Munnabhais, 3 Idiots was definitely a disappointment from Raju Hirani. From Aamir, well, predictable in a sense...a reasonably non-nonsensical movie with good acting by him marketed slickly to rake in the moolah. To me, the most disappointing aspect was Boman Irani's characterization. I mean wrt Rancho's near-perfection, come on, that's to be expected isn't it? Or probably I've learnt to live with it. But sad at 2 things - the stereotype of many folks (mainly the principal) and how Boman is made to look more and more like a clown in each of Raju's films. Also, I don't know why Maddy was in the movie at all. Just abt anybody could've done it.
Nice blog btw, I'm surprised I haven't come across yours before, I thought I knew most of the good ones, at least from Chennaites. :)
Oh and wrt your comment in mine, I hope the replies didn't scare you away, I myself was quite surprised by the interest your comment generated. :D I know it's a lot of reading comprehension & info, but shouldn't be a big deal for a law student like you, eh? ;-)

Spaz Kumari said...

@gawker - i usually enjoy OTT acting, but here the assumption simply seemed to be that the audience was either too stupid to get the point at first try, or too primitive to appreciate a story without pointless tadka. i hate it when movies talk down to people.

@anon - i'm not usually provoked into writing full length reviews for movies.i really wanted to like this movie. If i had low expectations to begin with, i would have taken this overdone rubbish and enjoyed it for the 'bollywood masala' that it is. The problem that it was so close to being a good movie. It had highly competent actors, and a genuine, relevant, elegantly simple story to tell. The movie did in fact have several funny moments, but i did indeed smile at several points, but a bunch of fart jokes does not make a good movie. I'm disappointed that they did not have the courage to put the message up front and central, instead of playing safe and adding pointless masala to it to pander to a wider audience. rocket singh had many huge flaws as i have pointed out, but it had enough faith in its story to be simple. also, i loved munnabhai - 1, but not so much the 2nd one.

Read this.

@bongopundit - haha i know, isn't that the most amazing phrase? I wish it were original, but i remember hearing/reading it somewhere and fell madly in love with it.

@V - WE WILL TAKE OVER THE WORLD! *mogambo laughter* :P

@gkam - well it was nice in a lot of ways, just more disappointing than nice. I suppose it depends on the expectations with which you prepare to watch it.

@kaushik - absolutely true, i wish i'd mentioned this aspect. Every new movie wastes boman irani's potential more and more; he has become the 'crazy authority figure' just like kirron kher's 'punjabi ma' act. I love boman (have you watched Little Zizou?) and i'm angry that they had to caricature him to this extent, to tell their story, every time.
Also, i'm not able to remember on exactly which post of yours i commented, could you leave me a link? I'd like to read the responses.

Thanks for the compliment as well as the comment. :)

Anonymous said...

@anon: Rocket Singh is indeed a better movie than 3 Idiots. The subtlety is all the difference. :D

Anonymous said...

can it be so that you got so piqued by people liking the 'message' in the movie that you saw the movie with the intent of hating the channel delivering the said 'message' :D

i saw the Thursday premiere show, knew zilch about the movie beforehand and came out laughing my ass off...for me the 'message' was a second string added-as-an-afterthought by-product of the movie :P

matter of perspective ehh :S

Spaz Kumari said...

@anon - thank you!

@zephyr - that is actually an interesting question; but on consideration i'd say the movie still suffers from jack-of-all-trades syndrome.

Ashwini Sriram said...

Awesome post! I couldn't agree more.

To top it all, there was some dumb controversy over who gets to be crowned "the idiot". The filmmaker or idea generator.height of look-at-me-ing.

I did try.. really hard.. to like the movie. Just couldn't bring myself to do it.

Cheers to us weirdos who refuse to accept mediocracy!

Sharanyaa said...

Nice post!
And indeed, it is I, Sharanyaa Vasan!
Identify Yourself, Spaz Kumari :P

Sharanyaa said...

yyupp. i am sharanyaa vasan!

Ketan said...

Oh, I too loved the dhokla and balaatkaar scenes the best. Aamir Khan is my favorite actor, and I have to say this was his worst movie that I have watched. Since Ghajini he is going on a downhill path in terms of overall quality. But I think it must be a conscious decision on his part. I intuitively felt he got bugged of SRK being considered the commercially most 'successful' actor and just wanted to prove a point once (twice) and for all. Now, that he has done that he would start doing better movies. But I still consider this movie better than average bollwyood movies. Aamir Khan seems to have a very good idea of common people's psyche. I had reached the same conclusion watching Ghajini as to how he had scaled down the quality of the movie to paradoxically succeed commercially.

Very impressed with your sense of humor. :)

vivek said...

i too found rocket singh better than 3 idiots...

vivek said...

u r the first one i came across with similar views..

Saya said...

I liked the end. Made me think I could be an idiot and still have 400 patents to my name. Gave me hope.

Do i need to mention that I always identify with the best characters and the happiest of endings? :D

Spaz Kumari said...

@Ashwini - i saw that promo! i totally did not get what they were trying to say. This is the 'dont be stupid, be an idiot!' ad no?

@sharanyaa - comment left over on your blog.

@ketan - yes, yes and thank you :)

@vivek - :)

@saya - i think if you have a name like phunsuk wangdu, karma dictates that you have 400 patents to make up for that tragedy :P

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

I saw 1/3rd of three idiots at thrice the recording speed using vlc media player. I take credit for having endured that much. But this review is funny as hell. Eat rainbows and shit butterflies, where do you come up with such expressions? Precious.

Spaz Kumari said...

as much as i would like to attribute to my own (not inconsiderable :P ) brilliance, that fantastic line is paraphrased from Horton Hears A Who, a children's movie.