3 Idiots

3 Idiots
3 Idiots
While most Bollywood films are a fairytale romance at its finest, the most recent movie to take India by storm has a different message for its viewers, and its far-reaching effects have proved both positively and negatively meaningful for Indian society. 3 Idiots is a Bollywood comedy film that portrays the pressures of an engineering college in India and depicts the flaws in an educational system that discourages freedom of thought and creativity in favor of rigid standardization and competition. 3 Idiots has become the highest grossing Bollywood film of all time and has set a box office record for the Indian film industry. The film also went on to win six Filmfare Awards, including best film and best director, and ten Star Screen Awards. Although 3 Idiots has been a big hit and many of my own Indian friends have seen the movie several times in the theater, it has also inspired a lot of controversy in the nation. While some applaud the film for criticizing the intense pressure the Indian educational system often puts on its students, many critics claim that it provokes suicide and glorifies “ragging,” a form of abusive hazing that is inflicted upon freshman university students by seniors.

The film portrays an engineering student who failed in his exams hanging himself to death from his hotel room, leaving behind a note declaring: “I quit.” The movie has since been probed for allegedly influencing numerous students in India to commit copycat suicide when they did not perform well in their studies. Among these cases, 12-year old Sushant Patil hanged himself after he had failed in online casino four papers out of six in the mid-term examinations. Patil had apparently watched 3 Idiots twice on the day before he committed suicide. The same note reading “I quit” was left behind many of the copycat suicide victims. Many feel that these youth are imitating the lifestyles depicted in the movies in the absence of positive roles played by parents and teachers in their own lives. Critics say that the film depicts suicide as the easiest method of settling personal scores. The film is also under fire for allegedly inspiring 18 students of the Seth GS Medical College to harass juniors, as one of the scenes shows freshers being hazed by their seniors in the hostel. A voluntary organization working against ragging in India has recently complained to the Supreme Court appointed anti-ragging committee about this menace allegedly being glorified in the film. The students from the medical college have since been arrested. The Maharashtra state government is under pressure to order censoring of the ragging and suicide scenes in the film and has said it would look for answers for the recent incidents in the movie. The National Students Union of India has also held protests in some parts of the state condemning the film and advocating expulsion of the said scenes.
Proponents of the film however, including my own friends, have a different take on the movie’s message. They explain that suicide and ragging among students has always occurred in India and is not a direct influence of the film. In addition, the film shows the importance of creativity and the joy of life as it exposes flaws in the current system and culminates in the triumph of youthful imagination and ideals. Film Critic and author of “The Essential Guide to Bollywood,” stated in Bollywood Hungama: “It”s not that 3 Idiots is a flawless work of art. But it is a vital, inspiring and life-revising work of contemporary art with some heart imbued into every part. In a country where students are driven to suicide by their impossible curriculum, 3 Idiots provides hope. Maybe cinema can”t save lives. But cinema, sure as hell, can make you feel life is worth living.”

2 thoughts on “3 Idiots

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