3 Idiots (2009)

<strong class="MovieTitle">3 Idiots</strong> (2009)

(On DVD, December 2015) I’ve been meaning to take a closer look at Indian cinema for a while, and 3 Idiots seemed like an inviting entry door: I’m sympathetic to stories about engineers, the film was a massive box-office success and the reviews didn’t look bad either.  Fortunately, the resulting film doesn’t disappoint too much: It’s got a strong structure going back and forth in time, decent actors (Aamir Khan is particularly likable as an eccentric engineering student, while Boman Irani makes for a ferocious antagonist and Kareena Kapoor is just about everything to like in a romantic heroine), some suspense, a good conclusion… and so on.  I can’t speak about the particular cultural resonances of the film or whether it’s an accurate portrait of what it’s like in Indian engineering schools, but it does have a decent amount of cross-cultural appeal.  What’s not so appealing, unfortunately, is the film’s length.  While I gather than three hours is unremarkable by Indian cinema standards, it definitely feels too long for a comedy like 3 Idiots.  (The repetition of simple plot points doesn’t help.)  The tonal shifts in the film are also strange from a western perspective and they have something to do with the length: In trying to cram everything masala-style in a single film, the result feels long and unfocused.  Still, some of my favourite moments are the film are when it goes full-Bollywood: The two musical numbers are insanely catchy, and the choreography can be spectacular at times.  While I’d like 3 Idiots to be 30 to 45 minutes shorter, I’m pretty happy with the result and look forward to more Indian cinema in the near future.

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