Sitting back in a large swivel chair I turn around to face the screen. I twist open one of the tiny bottles of water and pour it into a glass. We are sitting around a large table in a cool conference room ready to watch a movie. The movie begins. A song plays and the opening credits roll. The movie is called Three Idiots. For some reason I thought it was a documentary on education. I was partly wrong. It was not a documentary but it was about education. Three Idiots, it was called.
We laughed. We cried. The story followed three characters during the course of their time at an Indian Engineering College. The main character, Rancho, comes to the college with the desire to learn. However, his desire to learn collides head on with the education system. He seeks to prove that rote learning actually hurts students through series of demonstrations. Through comedy and tragedy, song and dance, the movie explored the issue of education in India. True love, passion for learning, and following your dreams were all themes.
I had never seen a Bollywood movie before. Considering that I was expecting a documentary I was a little surprised at the beginning. But as the movie progressed I became engrossed. It was much different from the typical American movie. The movie dealt with serious issues in a comical way. One minute the characters were dancing, singing, and laughing in a huge musical number and the next a boy from the college is discovered hanging from the light fixture. It challenged my reactions. While I was watching the movie I realized that I was laughing at things I maybe shouldn’t have. At one point in the film, a paralyzed father was squished between two other characters riding on a motorcycle, twitching the whole time. In the movie, it seems that major events happen consistently throughout. There is no clear rising action, climax, and falling action. One minute the boys are being thrown out of school and the next they are delivering the headmaster’s daughter’s baby. Some of the events in the movie could be considered ridiculous. But it worked. I was entertained and I understood the lessons of the film. The movie was a juxtaposition of absurd events with serious ideas.
The movie was a lot of fun. It seemed to be an Indian and Western fusion. I wasn’t really sure what a Bollywood film was supposed to be like. I read the article Ms. Tousignant sent us before the program about Bollywood films, “My favorite bimbo: Why America loves brain-dead Bollywood”. The article addressed the perception some Americans seem to have that Indian movies are ridiculous with characters played by bimbos. I found that while there was a degree of absurdity, there was also a large amount of seriousness.
Ultimately I enjoyed seeing the film. It was nice to see on a Sunday afternoon at the Cricket Club. It is another perspective I can use in my quest for a more complete view of India. However, the most important thing I learned from the movie is...
I want to be in a Bollywood film.