3 Idiots (2009)
Looking for a silly comedy? This has you covered. I guess the title suggests an element of farce and it sure delivers. Farhan (R. Madhavan) fakes a heart attack to get off a plane that’s just about to leave Delhi, to pick up his mate Raju (Sharman Joshi), after getting a call that their mate Rancho (Aamir Khan) is on his way. We don’t know why, but this news creates a lot of excitement. Unnecessarily it seems as Rancho isn’t really on his way. Chatur (Omi) has brought them to a meeting at their old college campus, the setting were 10 years earlier, he’d challenged Rancho to a bet to see who’d be the more successful on their return. Fahran and Raju’s excitement is because they’ve not seen Rancho in 5 years, he’s disappeared, he’s not at the meeting, but Chatur says he knows where he is. First though we’ll travel back to how the friends met. At university, where Rancho instantly proves himself a bit of a maverick. He’s the smart unconventional one. The others don’t know what to make of him, but admire him. He’s apparently from a wealthy family, the others far less so. But Rancho sees the world from an idyllic viewpoint, seeing the possibility and promise in everything and everyone. It’s all a bit light and fluffy, like a teen movie, just translated from California to India. It’s playful, even employing a few Bollywood style dance numbers, which I’ll confess I really enjoyed. Blasts of colour, sweeping cameras, beautiful synced choreography, it really is a lot of fun to watch. For all it’s joy, it’s not scared to hit the darker side too. The school for engineers they study at is highly revered and the pressure immense. From themselves, perhaps their families, certainly the teachers. The tyrannical head of the school, nicknamed Virus, doesn’t like them either, especially Rancho. Mainly down to the fact that in Rancho he’s found a nemesis. Smarter, younger, much more likeable. Here again it echoes those 80s American high school movies. Virus is Rooney from Ferris Bueller! I’m not laughing hysterically throughout, but it is funny. Rancho is fond of a joke to make his point, that work should be fun. But one such gaff pushes fellow student and teachers pet Chatur over the edge, ridiculing him in front of the whole school. This is what brings us to the fateful scene, where the bet is made that he’ll be more successful in 10 years time. This becomes the catalyst for a great twist, one that I’m loathed to spoil. Rancho is an inspiring fellow, but he’s much more than what we see on the surface. It’s a truly heartwarming story, overly sentimental yes, far too long yes, packed full of cliche yes, but it’s so lovely. It’s the silliest thing I’ve watched in ages, but it’s infectious and all the characters are wonderful, you’re rooting for everyone, not just the 3 Idiots. Even at its nearly 3 hour runtime, it rattles along at a decent pace. A tangle of characters, relationships, timelines and story arcs. It’s not ground-breaking, but I’m not sure I’ve seen anything else quite like it.