Starring: Aamir Khan, Madhavan, Sharman Joshi
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Running Time: 170 mins
3 Idiots is an Indian film about two former schoolfriends who, having reunited as adults, set about looking for the other member of their college gang, while reminiscing of their wild days together at university.
While it’s not quite three hours of non-stop laughter, 3 Idiots is a heap of fun from start to finish. With a likable and zany lead trio and a collection of equally crazy side characters, the film’s anarchic and carefree approach is very refreshing, and put a big smile on my face throughout.
But what really makes 3 Idiots a great film isn’t its humour. There are some great laughs here and there (and a couple of good songs), but it’s the film’s most heartfelt moments which prove most impressive, as it follows the story of three young men growing up and realising that the world set before them by their elders is not the only way forward in life.
Finding a good, honest balance between laugh-out-loud comedy and genuinely heartfelt drama is far from easy, but 3 Idiots does it fantastically, proving both a good laugh and a properly engrossing character drama.
Of course, the film would be nowhere without its collection of wonderful performances. With fantastic energy and charisma across the board, 3 Idiots brings together a group of hilarious leads, from the lovable buffoons Aamir Khan, Madhavan and Sharman Joshi to some of the zany supporting players, including Boman Irani and Omi Vaidya, as well as the delightful Kareena Kapoor as the film’s focal love interest.
And with almost three full hours at its disposal, the film spends time on developing interesting and relatable stories not just for its lead trio, but for all of those supporting characters. That gives 3 Idiots a brilliant ensemble feel, and plays a huge part in giving the film its refreshing diversity all the way through its long runtime.
Because despite being a comedy that nearly hits three hours, this film doesn’t feel at all overlong. With the exception of a couple of musical numbers that could be a little shorter (and one that I would have loved to be even longer), 3 Idiots is an enormously enjoyable watch all the way through, and never really drags.
Its biggest weakness comes in its opening act, with a heavily comedy-focused portion of the story that isn’t quite as hilarious as it wants to be. Looking at the chaotic university careers of its main characters, the film has a bit of an Animal House vibe about it, yet doesn’t do enough to really make you wet yourself with its steady stream of jokes and mayhem.
There are some great laughs from time to time, but that less-than-spectacular comedy from the opening act remains a feature all the way through.
However, the film is brought to life by its genuinely wonderful and engrossing drama. At its heart, 3 Idiots is a coming-of-age story that looks at young men who’ve had their path set out in front of them by their elders, yet decide to rebel against an education system that pressurises them too much, and gives them no freedom to decide their own futures.
It’s a heartwarming and very worthy core theme, and one with enormous relevance for places all around the world in the modern day. And you can tell that it’s a story which has come straight out of real life, as the film delivers it with immense detail and passion throughout, letting you understand its own mindset as it pulls you into the world created before you on screen.
As a result, while 3 Idiots may not be a non-stop laughter-fest, it provides worthy, engrossing and often even affecting emotional drama that makes it a captivating and beautifully heartfelt watch through its entire three-hour runtime.
Bolstered by a collection of brilliant performances by a great ensemble cast, engaging and memorable character development, a passionate screenplay and a fun-loving, anarchic brand of humour, there’s barely a dull moment in this film, and that’s why I’m giving 3 Idiots a 7.6 overall.