Free Idiots: An Indian Amir's New Stooges
By Partha Banerjee
23 January, 2010
Let's review a "new-wave" Indian-American blockbuster
(Caution: Don't spend your time, money or patience on it. Believe me. I just did. By default, I'm now a free idiot.)
Is the new-generation India so painfully dumb that it can't understand the difference between truth and make-believe, reality and dream, or even fun and pain? Or, it's way too complicated when it's a new-wave Bollywood version of entertainment-awareness-so cial-change-cocktail served by Coke messiah Amir Khan?
When truth is layered-in with a fake cake in such a cumbersome way that you don't really know which one to choose: cheap fun or grim reality? You want to be a part, if not protagonist, of the desperately-needed social change, but you know that something's dead wrong in the messaging, and yet, you can't quite figure out where the problem is. But you paid handsomely at the box office to get in, and you don't want to come home not laughing or not crying. However hard you need to force yourself to do it, like a bad gas that simply wouldn't pass. (Sorry, but Khan used the element plenty.)
Three hours of non-stop Hindi Blitzkrieg of dialoguing, monologuing, dancing, donkeying, monkeying, stomping, romping, jumping, kissing, pissing, sciencing, philosophizing, teaching, testing, teasing, cheating, beating, stealing, healing, sobbing, crying, tear-jerking, gate-crashing, driving, dying and birthing...you name it...just to drive on one message...like that bad gas...that it's time the Indian supercolonial academia change...and free itself of learning by rote...and enter an era of free thinking!
Unfortunately, every bit of masala Amir Khan and his idiots uses to cook up the story is straight from the dingiest Bollywood kitsch kitchen, where the entire purpose of filming is done around the known theme of profit by making the dumb dumber, and the dumber the dumbest. And when so many idiots are employed, free and licensed to teach free thinking to new-generation India, it's no more a dream. It's a nightmare.
It's a nightmare just to sit through the three endless hours of plotting, subplotting, sub-subplotting, flashbacking and backflashing. It's three hours of a very painful trial. Trial of your civility, social skills and patience. When completely disgusted after an hour and a half into the show, you just want to stand up, scream, kick the back of the front seat in the darkness of the theater, and leave. But you can't. After all, you're not really free to do that. Even an idiot wouldn't do it.
My readers, friends, supporters and especially my critics always want to know what my problem is: why can't I simply get some fun and be happy with fun and happy stuff? Why do I always have to be such a naysayer and badmouther at every Bollywood benchmark? After all, what's so cool about always blasting big media and thereby making myself depressed, even more so than ever before? I did that with notable, famed and prospered big-ticket items such as Born Into Brothels and Slumdog Millionaire; I'm now web-spewing the same, predictable criticism of another big blockbuster that's taking Indian families by storm -- both in India and abroad! Why can't I make some peace with reality, and learn to live with it?
Yeah, that's a serious mental case, indeed.
Now, people are so tired of rave reviews, critiques and eulogies that 3 Idiots (I'm sure you've long figured it out) got, it wouldn't be wise to do a shot-by-shot, sequence-by-sequence post-mortem, although one would be tempted to do it, just for the "fun." I'd rather select a handful only for a hindsight.
1. The opening sequence of idiot Farhan's faked illness on a just-took-off Air India plane. (Please don't try it. You'll be quickly arrested, beat up and jailed, maybe, even on terrorism charges). The once-wildlife-photographer-aspirant, father-forced engineering student, who's now suddenly an accomplished photographer with a number of books out, gets a call from one Rancho, his face turns green, as if scared to death. But Rancho, they later tell us, is only his pal, his soul brother he met ten years ago -- calling from some unknown place for some unknown reason. But to answer him, Farhan decides to feign a heart attack on board, and forces the pilots to turn around for an emergency landing. He then walks out of his wheelchair with a simple comic gesture, and dissolves into the street crowd.
(My critic: "But didn't you get the fun, you wet blanket? Oh, it was so funny! Loved it.")
2. Rancho straps himself with idiot Raju's critically ill, paralyzed father on a scooter, and drives him to hospital for a save, thereby meeting his doctor girlfriend Pia who was also, as it turns out, daughter of the Hitler-ish college director. (Please don't try this method to save a patient. You'll kill them; and law will quickly get back to you. Unless you're an Indian Amir or a member of his now-famous idiot club). In my time I've seen quite a few Bollywood insanities, and this one would definitely make a short list. And it's so inhumane to the point of cruelty, only to match with Raju's poor mother scratching his bed-ridden husband's eczema with a roller pin and then using it to make rotis for her son and his invited friends.
(Critic: "Ha ha, was it funny! Laugh laugh laugh...giggle giggle giggle...")
3. A climax-subclimax drama of idiot Rancho and his idiot Indian engineering gang delivering Pia's sister Mona's baby at the college, taking online-video instructions from Pia. (Please don't try it, period). Other than the totally ludicrous and nonsense drama of the pingpong-tabletop-childbirthing under Rancho's stewardship and collective laboring, the corniness is simply absurd and truly unbearable. I've never seen so many otherwise healthy-looking men crying so much, so pathetically.
(Critic: "You just don't get it. It was a metaphor, a symbol, a dream scenario. Like, this is how it should be. It's an Amir utopia. He's making the young generation think. Love it.")
I have another metaphor in my mind. In ten years the movie spans, no one idiot grows up. Telling, the globalized Indian generation considered. We might say, not ten, it's twenty.
I have a feeling if one looked carefully, they could even find those idiots wearing the same stars-and-stripes underpants they wore ten years ago. The ones they flashed globally.
"All Izz Well."