The most fun part of re-watching 3 Idiots is the delightfully named Chatur Ramalingam,a slimy student at a top-flight tech institute. Just before the exams,he goes around slipping pondies (porn mags) under doors,in the hope that the muggoos would get distracted,and that,because of this,he will come up tops. Director Rajkumar Hirani doesnt explain adequately why those phenomenal brains which study at the thinly- disguised IIT in his film would get swamped by such an act,but the brushstroke is broad enough to raise a laugh.
The very public TV squabble between Chetan Bhagat who wrote the bestseller,Five Point Someone,on which the film is loosely based,and the makers of 3 Idiots is fresh in our minds: the former claimed he got shortchanged in the credits; the latter,in the shape of producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra,told him to shut up. It was just one more thing that added to the phenomenal run of the movie,which like all Aamir Khan starrers,released in the last week of the year (Khans favourite release date is December 25),and lasted well into 2010.
After taking the pants off doctors and lawyers in his superb Munnabhai movies,Hirani takes on teachers in
3 Idiots. Not all,but the kind who encourage rote learning,and discourage independent thought. 3 Idiots doesnt match up in soul and spirit to the two Munnabhais,but Raju Hirani is the only one in Bollywood who can make a film like this: take an issue which is of deep import to us all,and flesh it out with laughter and tears. I still dont buy into a 40-plus Khan playing a 20-plus youth,despite the loose jeans and the slouch and the standard issue slung-across-chest bag,but he gels well with his co-conspirators R Madhavan and the excellent Sharman Joshi,and the sprightly Kareena Kapoor.
Almost as much fun is the extras DVD,which shows the shoots (one abortive,one successful) in freezing Ladakh. So is the interaction between Khan and the students of IIM,Bangalore,where a lot of the film was shot. Khan plays badminton (not too badly),and chess (very well),and gathers much admiration from students on campus,where the cast and crew stayed for several weeks. And Im happy to report that the balatkaar monologue,rendered by Omi Vaidya better known as Chatur,is still a riot.