Thinking Aloud: “3 Idiots”

Apr. 13, 2014 by Darius 

I recently saw 3 Idiots, a Bollywood movie that set box office records in India and elsewhere around the world.  3 Idiots is highly entertaining – funny, good plot, good characters – but  it is also a brilliant satire of modern India’s succeed-at-all-costs mentality.

3 Idiots takes place in a fictional engineering school in India.  The head of the school talks constantly about how prestigious and difficult to get into the school is and how one must “succeed” in life at all costs.  At the beginning of each school year he brings in the nest of a species of bird that, when it hatches, destroys the other eggs in the nest.  To him, his students must be like that bird, able to destroy the other eggs, or people, who aren’t willing or able to be smart enough or cutthroat enough to survive in his world.

Offering an opposing worldview to the headmaster’s is a student, Rancho.  Rancho is a free spirit who loves learning for its own sake and especially engineering.  The plot of the movie, with brief song and dance interludes :), follows Rancho and his roommates through engineering school.

The message of 3 Idiots is best summed up by a line near the end: [paraphrased] “Pursue excellence, and success will chase after you with its pants around its ankles.”

3 Idiots is long (nearly 3 hours), but it never drags and doesn’t seem long — and it’s almost certain you’ll be humming one of the songs the next day.

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