January 05, 2010

"Three Idiots" - A Bollywood Block Buster that Baffles?


I watched this Bollywood movie 'Three Idiots' which apparently is currently as big of a block buster as is 'Avatar' in Hollywood.

These were some thoughts that crossed my mind while exiting the theater:

  • Are Indian parents that heartless/naive to drive their children into depression?
  • Do Indian youngsters never challenge their parents?
  • Why is no action taken against students who cheat on exams or violate basic rules in India?
  • Why was the Professor caricatured?
  • Do Indians in India dislike Indians in the USA? Why is that?
  • Are the Indians I see in the US a poor representation of India and Indian culture?
  • Why does this movie that bashes Indian Americans so popular in the USA?
  • How does a movie goer in India afford a ticket that on an average costs him Rs. 140/- (about $ 4), when the net hourly earning of an Indian is only Rs 60/- (about $ 1.5)?

I thought the male lead, Aamir Khan, is a really good actor, as were his two friends; the rest of the cast was a medley of caricatures who took away from the credibility of the story! The people around me appeared to be thoroughly entertained, in fact some of them had the songs and dialogues memorized! Apparently, the movie carries an important message to parents and teachers in India who stunt creativity and curiosity in young minds by forcing them to memorize instead of problem solving on their own. Whether this message finds it to the masses, past the slap stick humor in which it is so deeply embedded, is to be seen.

Your thoughts...

16 comments:

Shirazi said...

I am hearing a lot about the movie. I need to see this soon.

EYE said...

Very good questions raised. Yes, Indian parents do drive their children to depression. It is rather the pressure that is put upon them to study well and be geniuses. But yes, Indian children do rebel and manage to chart out their own individual ways. Yes, Indians in India seem to dislike Indians in USA or abroad. They like to believe that Indians who went abroad have left the country to serve another. Indians basically don't have much respect for other cultures leave alone the various cultures that are part of India, since they believe that theres is the 'best' culture of this world. Yes profs are not only caricatured but also mocked and laughed at in colleges. I remember this incident in my class, in a very prestigious college in Delhi wherein the prof walked out simply because the students wouldn't stop laughing at him.
The Indians you see in the USA are poor representations of the Indians in India because they have grown out of their 'Indian' ways.
And yes, there is a certain middle class in India which earns enough, thanks to the multinationals that have entered the country, who can pay not only for the film but also for a pack of popcorns; the smallest of which costs about Rs 60 ( a little more than a dollar).

I don't whether I will be able to catch this film, but thanks for the review. Yours is certainly an intelligent one.

How do we know said...

i havent seen the film and dont plan to... no particular reason, am just not excited - the author is not among the favorites, the teasers of the moview make me go "Ugh!" rather than wow, so wont be able to present an answer.

Abt ur questions, hang on, lets get to them one at a time... back to the post now...

How do we know said...

Are Indian parents that heartless/naive to drive their children into depression?
- Yes..

Do Indian youngsters never challenge their parents?
- Sometimes they do. More often, they just do their own thing without arguing in a subtle sort of way.

Why is no action taken against students who cheat on exams or violate basic rules in India?
- Bcs, the education system here is focused on the percentage of marks that you score . Because, it is easy to be unethical and get away with it. Because, like in the case of Prof. Sabharwal, you can also lose ur life for being too ethical.


Why was the Professor caricatured?
- Because, like EYE said, they always are.

Do Indians in India dislike Indians in the USA? Why is that?
- This is a chicken and egg story. Indians in india think that Indians in the US dislike them too.

Are the Indians I see in the US a poor representation of India and Indian culture?
- Errm, i m not sure of that one. Some of them are more "indian" than one wld c here. but whats being "indian" anyway... me no gets it.

Why does this movie that bashes Indian Americans so popular in the USA?
- Ha ha aha. no clue.

How does a movie goer in India afford a ticket that on an average costs him Rs. 140/- (about $ 4), when the net hourly earning of an Indian is only Rs 60/- (about $ 1.5)? - Because, my dear, per capita income is a figure. Not the actual income of all Indians . Some make way more, and some make way less..

cubano said...

I really enjoyed the film because it was entertaining and funny but didn't take it too seriously. I don't think that all Indians should be judged by this film. Of course there are Indians who put pressure on their kids just as there are kids who rebel. If they didn't then all Indians would be doctors, engineers, or lawyers :) I also don't think that all profs are mocked in India. The character of the professor in the film was extremely eccentric and we have to remember than this film is categorized as a comedy. There are differences between Indians living in India and those living in other countries which can sometimes lead to conflicts but this doesn't mean that all Indians dislike Indians living in the US or vice versa. Many Indians have family members and friends living in both countries who are equally dear. This movie is popular in the US despite bashing Indian Americans because it's generally a light hearted comedy with some serious undertones.

Overall I think that these generalizations cannot be applied to all Indians just like this movie doesn't represent all Indians.

berenice said...

hi ID, i am glad you asked those questions and i am very thankful for the comments i read, i heard about the movie and wasn't really interested but after your questions & the informative responses now i am curious, not 'cause it's the kind of film i'd enjoy

as for EYE's comment on Indian Americans: "Yes, Indians in India seem to dislike Indians in USA or abroad. They like to believe that Indians who went abroad have left the country to serve another."
I can tell you that the same happens with Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, in the University I studied in Mexico City (the UNAM) and in most intellectual circles in Mexico, illegal mexicans or legal ones living in the US are regarded somehow as "traitors", and it's actually considered very bad taste to be ruled by the "gringo rules"... i still get now & then e-mail from acquaintances in Mexico City asking me when am i planning to give up with my silly gringo fantasy of living in the US, few people know i was actually born in the US, since i grew up, was raised, and lived over 30 years in Mexico City...

it's very interesting to read, how, even if we are very different cultures, Indian and Mexican, many things are so similar, like the demanding parents, etc. and so similar to the culture in the US

yet, we all gather here, and even from afar, we all dream the American Dream

D said...

Disclaimer: I haven't seen the movie.

1. I don't think that is actually the case, i mean yes, the pressure here is too much, to perform, for one college seat you're competing against almost few hundred thousands. But this fact cannot be easily summaried by generalising that all parents do the same. Also, you've to understand that the only way for middle class here to break the economic shackles is education, given that besides cricket, no sport would make you popular. Also, education is the cheapest way to book your ticket to rise up in the social ladder. But to say, that all parents make their kids desparate and lead to suicide, that would be looking at only on end of the spectrum.

Do kids challenge, both yes and No. remeber we've genuises like Sachin, Vishy and now even guys from small towns finding their way in the sport circuit. Again...it depends on the family...but since kids here stay with parents as long as 21..of course there is some influence.

Who says there is no action taken against cheating. come on people its just a movie... i'm not from one college like IIT but even in my college cheating is fucking difficult...although i tried my best ;-)

Isn't it everywhere? Some professors are absolutely loved, some face the ire...

Both yes and No. NRIs who show-off, their foreign breed (unnecessary show-off) are tend to be ridiculed...but not the case with every1..

I think NRIs somehow tend to hold on to the so called Indian culture, for example...a concert of ravishankar will be more successful in chicago than mumbai

I haven't seen the movie..can't comment but movies such as Hyderabad Blues are a huge hit..check for urself

There are multi screens and single screens and why movie ticket, III than we shouldn't be able to buy jaguar as Tata did or Arcleor as Mittal did...we have huge disparity but check out the forbes and MNCs coming to India..well its a two-way process, they need to sell themselves to over 1bn people and if it creates some jobs...there lie economic sense.

D said...

by the way III..we celebrate a Pravasi Bhartiya Divas ( day for Non resident Indians)...ironical!!!
(word verification -- smshole???)

Abhilash Babu said...

The truth is ID, it's just a movie and in a way only represents the urban middle class of the country that constitutes about 12% of the country's 1 billion population. The movie crew is a bunch of leading actors + ad-makers and they know how to package it for the urban indian + international audience. They did just that. Copyright is a joke in India, so is copying in exams. yes, people in the country have a pre-conceived notion of children who grew up in the west. That's a fair amount of jealousy i believe and should find a resonance everywhere. Amir Khan is this leading Indian actor who tries to give a social message or bring in some sanctity in all his works. He had once tried to bring the same into his personal life as well, by endorsing the cause of displaced people in the Namrada isssue, but was soon shown the door by writer-activist Arundhati Roy. Ever since the chap has been desperate to bring in the "intelligensia" angle in everything that he does. The latest movie is apparently his attempt at "encouraging innovation of the scientific minds in the country" There was another a few years back which had a "message" for the parents of children with Dyslexia. A year before that was another joker act wherein he and his director tried to bring in the idea of "social responsibility" through a self-claimed revolutionary movie. The guy is obviously desparate to prove his point and beyond the pop-corn audience he never found recognition ever. Please do not generalise this country's culture based on this movie. As the title suggest, it's not one bit more serious that an Adam Sandler slapstick. That's all the movie is and that is all one should know :)

Happy New Year ID. Long time :)

How do we know said...

Id, i saw the movie last night. And came back with one correction - the hatred is not for NRIs. THe hatred is for students who follow the norms of the system and excel - the "maggus" - the people who learn by rote as our system requires and then get gud marks and the gud jobs. It has nothing to do with the guy settling outside India.

Goli said...

Did not understand lot of your questions, specially the last question, there are cinemas in India which are not multiplexed, I saw the movie for 70 bucks in hyderabad, the cinema next to my house in bangalore has the ticked for 40 rupees, that is what most cinemas have.

And I guess in no place the movie talked about NRI or US jobs, most of the engineers do get in job in US MNC just because of the fact that there are more tech companies in US then in India, and that is what the movie was referring to.

Mumbai Paused said...

Are Indian parents that heartless/naive to drive their children into depression?

Among the rich and middle class, yes. Since millions of kids in india don't go to school, they are driven to work at a tender age.


Do Indian youngsters never challenge their parents?

They do. But parents have a lot on say in every decision.

Why is no action taken against students who cheat on exams or violate basic rules in India?
If they are caught, they are.

Why was the Professor caricatured?
It's a carryover from an earlier movie by the same director. I think he hated his porfessors

Do Indians in India dislike Indians in the USA? Why is that?
Not sure. Maybe we are jealous.

Are the Indians I see in the US a poor representation of India and Indian culture?
It's not a representation of India because you probably see only the ones who were privileged enough to make it to the US. It's not a proper representation.

Why does this movie that bashes Indian Americans so popular in the USA?
It's not popular because of that.

How does a movie goer in India afford a ticket that on an average costs him Rs. 140/- (about $ 4), when the net hourly earning of an Indian is only Rs 60/- (about $ 1.5)?

Tickets in small towns are cheaper.

human being said...

haven't seen the film... but i liked the questions you asked... they are applicable to a more general audience too... thoughtprovoking!

crumbs said...

hi, had read this post a few days ago, then thought should be coming back and replying when i can do this in detail.
now it seems that most of it is covered in previous comments. but well, here is my bit anyways.

firstly, I do think that one cannot draw conclusions about the way things are done in a country based on one commercial film. a film at best, maybe be a half-way representation, but there is no way anyone can answer all those questions you asked, if the premise is only what the film talks about.
now, assuming that the film merely caused you to think of these aspects, and that you are not looking for answers in the film, here is what i have to say.

1. parents in india do have a larger say in how their kids lead their lives in india than what you see in a country like the US. at times it does mean that the parents do impose their ideas of "what must be" on their kids--this is the case with jobs, marriage, everything. sometimes, that also means driving their kids up against the wall. but i do feel that things are slightly better today, where both the parents and the kids are learning to negotiate a middle path--which is still very prickly, but it's a start. still, stories of kids driven to depression, suicide by parental expectations would not shock us still...

2. about professors being caricatured...isn't a done thing everywhere? Caricaturing people in authority is hardly a new concept, (tell me one teacher in the archie comics who isn't), so why this question now?

3. I do agree with How Do We Know about the Indian American bashing...I don't think that is the point of the film...having said that, there is always a difference of opinion between Indians who have migrated elsewhere and those who have stayed here. I guess this is a question of both sides rationalising and negotiating their identities. With the kind of diversity in experience that one has staying in India alone, I doubt we can sketch out one definitive "Indian identity", this probably get further complicated with a shift to a different country. Given such a situation, when everyone is desperately trying to convince themselves that their decisions (whether that is to stay back, or leave) is the right one, differences, and arguments are bound to happen.

4. lastly, the price of the mobie ticket in india, is like everything else here...we have a very wide range. The multiplexes in big cities will cost you anything between Rs 100 to Rs 500, while smaller cities, towns and villages, will have fairly good theaters where you can watch a film for anything between Rs. 20 to Rs. 50. So depending on what kind of "average Indian" you are, you can chose your movie experience :)

phew!

EXSENO said...

The one thing I didn't get from you was did you like it or not? And would you recomment it.

Once of the best movies my grandson and I ever enjoyed was the one you posted on, by the name of 'Three Deaths and a Funeral'.
Loved it! Laughed through the whole thing.

Smorg said...

Hiya!
Haven't seen this yet, but now I'm putting it on my Netflick queue. :oD If India is anything like Thailand, I guess the parents there really rule their kids' lives (it's a cultural thing. In Thailand kids actually live with their folks until they get married, then perhaps the wife moves in with the family and has to be submissive to the mom-in-law, too).

I love watching foreign films and getting more input about how things are elsewhere. Thanks a bunch for mentioning this one! :oD

Cheerio,
Smorgy