Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Three Idiots--message(s) from Clark Kent
It had to be seen because it was there, it's omnipresence, like Avatar and Titanic. Everybody I meet has seen it, and apparently enjoyed it, as I myself on the whole did.
But then it is a difference in points of view. Why, after all, does one see a film? For the majority, I assume, it's to soothe the nerves at the end of the day when the hurly burly's done, in the company of close ones, a packet of corn, or a drink if at home. Legitimate enough. But for better or worse, I tend to regard seeing a film as a more serious investment of time, for it's power to bring about an inner transformation, exactly the same reasons for taking up a work of literature. This time it was more out of social obligation.
It is a light hearted effervescent movie which reaches out to the heart by addressing, however clumsily, concerns that most of us NNRIs ( non-NRIs ) have to painfully confront. The impossible is a staple ingredient of mainstream Hindi cinema, and you will find the content beyond this obstacle. Aamir is Aamir because he knows how to tug at our heartstrings, even as he doesn't address our higher intellects, assuming we have time in our harsh little world to entertain such an organ. The film is one of the biggest grossers in recent times and this surely tells us something about the audience, since cinema, the most wide reaching of art media, is a barometer and mirror of it's society.
It's a story about the young and young hearted, the customers of the great dreams of capitalism, consumerism and virtual unreality-- bubbles which implode when experienced from the other side of the counter. The film is particularly addressed to students in a particular age segment, on the brink of the vast forbidding seas of adulthood. (The box-office success in recent times of films addressed to this segment shows where the bulk cinema audience is presently situated, or at least it captures where and what they aspire to be. Gone are the days of Mithun Chakraborty, when youngsters aspired to be gangsters or their converse.) There is a great hunger for education, and the pressures and heartbreaks of being young and middle-class are well presented even in caricature.Perhaps it will leave some imprint on the collective mind about the inadequacies of the educational system of which this film could be a symptom more than a cure.
In it's somewhat exaggerated depiction of male camaraderie in the late teens, the humor tends to be scatological, which is perhaps a step in graduation towards the openly sexual expressiveness of the west--our mad rush to catch up with their madnesses. We are treated to a generous displays of male buttocks, and several urinary performances. For men will be men. Aamir of course is centre stage as the paragon, and his main strength, accounting for his popularity, stems from his projection of a mixture of traditional virtues, patriotism and super-heroism--a safe mix which would seem to be viable approximation, at least temporarily, towards the role model we seek in the sterile vacuum of our time. Cardboard idealism has long been a staple of Hindi cinema, hopefully heading for swansong. We are stuck on supermen.
Boman Irani is a natural comedian and he is ever innovative in his succession of performances, his face fluid and rippling in a chain reaction of expressions, antithesis of Chaplin and close to Raj Kapoor. Omi Vaidya as the Silencer also extracted many laughs with his mimicry of an NRI, which is a very original act. Aamir portraying Aamir is his usual self and manages to act convincingly as half his age but since we already know better it's rather pathetic to see him prancing around with a sling bag. But then in the immortal words of Deng Xiaoping, the color of the cat is immaterial so long as it catches the mice.