Movie Club Discussion: 3 Idiots

I can see why this movie has been recomnded so often and has had such good reviews and press. The title and silly cover images made me reluctant to try it, but I’m glad I did!

The experience was one of those times when I thought to myself: I’m so glad Indian movies are so long 🙂

The overall message was, when you focus on loving what you’re doing, sucess will follow.

Don’t learn because you have to and just cram and memorize, learn because it is thrilling and interesting.

It reminds me of a talk I heard at my Sathya Sai Baba center. A man who had been through the Sathya Sai MBA program spoke about what it was like and he said the message there was that you don’t have to ask for a raise in your job. Do everything that you do with excellence and the raise will come to you.

Sometimes it bothers me to hear that message of “follow your heart.” I’ve struggled a lot as a creative person to make enough money to get by. I always thought that if you follow your passion, the money will follow. You do see that in a lot of people.

But then you also see plenty of “starving artists.”

I wonder sometimes whether I dilute my art by worrying over making a living. If I could let go of all that world stuff and just really focus on the art for the sake of only love, maybe that would make it speak to people more, make it more successful. But then how am I defining success?

Rancho makes a good point that it isn’t only following your passion, but also your talent. Follow it with all your heart and the rest will fall into place. I think I have only followed my passion half way, always with an eye on the race (the “rat race” as we say here), checking how I’m doing against everyone else, doing things for “saftey” just in case. There’s always been fear. I think if I were to truely apply myself with all my heart to the thing that I’m most passionate about, success would come. I do believe that.

Sometimes, though, we don’t know or recognize what our talents or passions are. It can be hard to clear away all the messages and expectations and really see what it is that you love doing. Raju is that way. His passion isn’t clear, but he still needs to let go of the fear in order to get anywhere.

I liked the structure of the movie where we were waiting the whole time to see which method produced better results. Clearly Chatur had wealth and all the external markers of success. I suppose if that’s what you want, go for it. But Rancho was all about success meaning happiness. He learned and loved, and trusted the universe to provide the results.

Did his friends really understand Rancho’s message? They enjoyed his pranks and “demos” but did they really understand that he is doing the work, but for the sake of the work and not the sake of the grade.

Oh wait, now isn’t that the message of the Gita? 🙂 Perform your duty for duty’s sake and not for the sake of the rewards.

Without really understanding what Rancho means, the system is definitely set up to crush your spirit and your independence. Churn out quiet little robots, really. And then people wonder where are the great thinkers? Where are the “out of the box” ideas? They’ve been crushed.

Sometimes the movie feels like a fight for the souls of the two friends between the director and Rancho.

Appearences mean nothing to Rancho. The degree is irrelevant to his success. It’s the knowledge itself, not the name of the school or the diploma, that bring him success. Yet, Rancho has no one depending on him. Not like Raju and many of the others. There is no one’s expectations he is trying to live up to and that does make a diference.

I liked the suspense of waiting to find out what had become of “Rancho” and then the shock of the result, though the clues of the truth were there all along. Particularly in his advice to the young boy who washed clothes and ran errands at the school.

A fun moment was “Results in, so time to strike a deal with God.” And seeing all the different types of prayers that students are giving.

Also, Kareena Kapoor is adorable. Every time I see her, I just fall in love with her bright and happy smile. She has made quirky and fun her calling card (and it works so well that I was really startled when I saw her on the cover of a historical film!)

The scene with Farhan and his dad talking about how he doesn’t want to be an engineer and he’d be terrible at it was very powerful. The dad’s concern is for things that matter so little. “Your friends will be buying cars and you’ll regret that you can’t.” And is that worth the life of frustration and disappointment? Well, only you can know in your own life.

It’s a great message, but I do have to wonder about whether it is right for us to tell our children to just follow their dreams. I have friends in the arts who bitterly regret not studying something “practical.” Is it wrong for parents to worry that their children will not be able to make a living at the things they are interested in?

Where is the right balance between learn something practical and do what you love?

As far as the religious side of it goes, I think Raju says it best, “Today I didn’t beg God for this job, I thanked him for this life.”

As I said earlier, I think this movie is an illustration of the Gita in modern life.

And you know? I’ve heard that story about the astronauts and the pen before, but I never heard the end of it: why the pen was important. Why it could’t be a pencil. I’m glad I finally learned that.


For next week we’ll see a little more of Kareena Kapoor! Next week’s discussion will be on Satyagraha, a movie I had not heard of before but was recommnded on Twitter. I know and understand so little about politics and I hope that this will be eye-opening. (I wanted to do one that was available free on Netflix again also and this fit the bill).

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  • Sandesh B.

    Hey Ambaa,

    Glad you enjoyed the movie and wish you well.

    I have watched this movie a lot of times.. well mostly for the entertainment part of it. Simply because I had learned this lesson already in life, way before the movie was made. I have seen how success is achieved by passion and love for a thing.

    To make it clear it is not for me, at least not now. Not everyone is lucky enough to do what they like and succeed in it, there are a lot of things to worry about more than just doing what someone likes… also as you already mentioned it’s not easy to clear the mess inside and understand what is the real talent within, sometimes you may be good at something but you don’t like doing it, it happens 😛

    I was never told by my parents to follow my dreams else I might not be where I am right now and maybe been an out of work artiste.

    The movie is actually showing the current Indian Education system and it fallacies of course… there is not out of the box thinking and that is why although there are many engineers and doctors there aren’t many scientists in India itself they all travel abroad with all their knowledge.

    When you related it to Gita frankly I missed on that one… you related it well. I related it to the fallacy of the education system. because that was my worry more than it being related to Gita… 🙂

    Satyagraha, not something i really liked there are far more better movies on politics but you should watch it as it is a rip off of the current situation in Indian politics.. so you may find something from it again which I might have missed 🙂


  • solar

    yes “3 Idiots” is O.K movie , Quite “Overrated” .

    you want good Indian Movies ? i am Movie junkie .

    I will Suggest you watch – Band Baja Baraat and Barfi both are good movies.

    List Of Few good movies .

    Romantic : 1. Band Baja Baraat – 2. Barfi

    Relationship: 1. Payaar Ka Punchnama

    Comedy : 1. Munnabhaiee MBBS

    Suspense : 1. Kahaani


    • Ambaa

      Barfi was also recommended on Twitter. We’ll have to do that one soon!

  • solar

    About “Following Dreams” , It’s just Movie Rhetoric No one takes it Seriously .

    You should do Practical things .

    Follow dreams Only if you are really confident about Success or Ready for Failure

  • Sabina

    There was a lot that I liked about this movie- and I see that both of us liked some of the same things! (And YES, about the pen/pencil. When I was in kindergarten, we often had priests come and talk to classes about various things [Catholic school], not necessarily religious. One time he was talking about NASA and told us all about the space pen. I raised my hand and asked “Why don’t they just use a pencil?” and everyone in my class went “Awwwww,” anticipating that I’d get in trouble. They didn’t know how to answer! Lol)

    I think Rancho’s friends did eventually get the message- though maybe not while they were in college itself.

    My answer about following dreams: I don’t know. If I’d gone to art school like I’d wanted to at age 18, who knows where I’d be now? I didn’t end up going, and if you look at it one way, I “wasted” a lot of college trying to be premed. But at the same time, it was not a waste- it was incredibly stressful but it was part of what made me who I am and who I will be. I still ended up becoming an artist and a writer. I might be better and more successful at those passions now, than if I’d devoted all of my time and education to them. There’s no way of knowing. I do think it’s wrong to force a specific path/fate on your children and cause them the unnecessary anxiety and guilt when they become something else (like the photographer character). At the same time, there are practical ways to follow one’s dreams: and I think you’re doing that! You are eminently practical about your passions and resourceful about finding ways to channel them into helping to support yourself and your family. I guess there needs to be a balance: like, if your child really, really wants to devote herself to street theater, encourage it- but also encourage her to pick up some general-purpose marketable skills so that she can have a day job unless and until her art can support her.

    One thing I found fascinating about the movie was that Kareena Kapoor’s character’s dad (sorry, haven’t seen the movie in awhile and don’t remember names well) assumed that all of his girl children would become doctors and boy children would become engineers. Where does that gender bias come in? In a way it was sort of nice to see that a high-powered, ambitious, demanding career was considered appropriate for women (as opposed to “You will become a pretty housewife and bear sons and no daughters!” or something- obviously I’m exaggerating lol)… but it’s still stifling.

    • Ambaa

      I have to admit that I regret my degree in writing. I don’t know know if I could have studied anything else in undergrad since I’m terrible at applying myself to things I don’t care about, but I definitely didn’t have to go to grad school. Writing requires practice, not grad school and now I’m in a lot of debt because of that choice.

      I also noticed that about “Virus” (the dad). He wants to know the gender of his grandbaby so he knows whether he’ll be a doctor or an engineer. I was struck silent by that. The world needs so many other profesions too!

  • Swati Hegde

    I love 3 Idiots! It’s one of my favourites. 🙂
    I’d also suggest the two Munnabhai (M.B.B.S and Lage Raho) movies. Hilarious and touching at the same time! :’)