WATCH: 3 Idiotas (2017) trailer
The story starts in the present time, with Farhan (R. Madhavan) and Raju (Sharman Joshi) being notified that their long lost friend, Rancho, has been found. From here, they embark on a journey through northern India and reminisce on the stories that made Rancho one character that he was.
Rancho was played by veteran actor, Aamir Khan, known as ‘The Perfectionist’ in India. For several years now, he has only completed one film per year, stating that he will only work on one film at a time. This gives him the time to perfect the character that he plays, without having to rush from set to set, which is a common practice in Indian cinema.
The film is set in the fictional Imperial College of Engineering, where the Rancho, Farhan and Raju are students.
When we first meet Rancho, he arrives late to what looks like an American fraternity initiation. He walks with a different style and presence; more observing everything that is going on, instead of trying to socialize and become friends with others. His insistence not to comply with the activities is where we start to realize that Rancho is a one in a million person. That he is smarter than everyone else. We are shown this when he makes a makeshift electrical circuit within ten seconds. From then, the other students seem to be scared of the repercussions of getting on the wrong side of Rancho.
This introduction to the character is perfect. It sets up his quirkiness and individuality for the rest of the film as he goes to show that the focus of school is about results rather than learning.
In one of the following scenes, we see this quirkiness when Rancho is requested to define the term ‘machine’. Giving examples and making the class laugh in doing so, such as explaining that a fan and a zip are forms of machines. Much to the annoyance of the teacher, and sends him out of the class. This is also the first example we see of him showing how the school system is flawed. That we are all expected to memorize these book definitions of terms, without any practical application of the material that is being learnt.
Another example of this is when he is asked by the college director, Viru ‘Virus’ (Boman Irani), to teach a class one day, after making being made a fool of. In this scene, Rancho asks a class of about 100 students to define a term within 30 seconds. The lesson from this scene that is later explained is that we are more focused on the end result, rather than the method of getting there. It is also revealed that the term that Rancho has everyone searching for was made up on the spot.
The last instance in which Rancho is able to show the inadequate schooling system is when Chatur (Omi Vaidya), another student is required to give a speech in front of the cohort. In the scenes leading up to this, we see Rancho and Farhan playing around with Chatur, and changing the speech along the way. But due to Chatur not being from the US and not fully understand Hindi, the changes completely pass over Chatur. As a result, Chatur’s speech has a different meaning and result in humiliation. This goes to show, again, in an individual example where someone that does not understand that he is making a mistake, yet is lead down a path of results rather than learning and understanding.
Throughout the number of flashbacks and present day events we learn a lot about the character of Rancho and the impact that he has made on lives around him; from his best friends to Virus and finally Chatur. He is able to brighten up everyone lives, with the phase “Aal Izz Well”
This film was remade in Tamil, under the name Nanban (2012). And Hirani is in talks with three American companies, as well as a Chinese and Italian company for remakes.
3 Idiots was received very well in India and across the world, grossing an estimated USD$59mil at the box office; and at the time, was the highest grossing Bollywood film.
Hirani later teamed up with Aamir Khan again in PK (2014), where Khan plays an alien wanting to learn about the human race. In this he questions religion; and why Earth has so many different religions and what it does to separate and divide us. This film currently holds the Bollywood Box Office record of USD$120mil.