Starring Aamir Khan, Sharman Joshi, and Madhavan. Rated PG.
From the director of the Munna Bhai films and featuring the director and star of Taare Zameen Par as its lead, 3 Idiots takes us on a journey that evokes the themes of those films—that integrity matters above all else, and that each of us has our own unique greatness.
Aamir Khan, the chameleon, pulls off another performance in which he disappears completely into his character. This time he plays Rancho (short for Rancchoddas), a young engineering student with a passion for learning and a better understanding of pedagogy than any of his professors.
The film is structured around a road trip in which former college roommates Farhan (Madhavan) and Raju (Sharman Joshi) get word that their old nemesis Chatur (Omi Vaidya) has found their long-lost friend—the third idiot—Rancho. They rush to their old campus, where they find the slimy Chatur still fixated on a bet he made 10 years ago. He promises to take them to see Rancho so that he can claim victory.
In a series of long flashbacks, we meet the young Rancho and learn about the trio’s college days in which he challenged convention at every turn, vexed the college director (Boman Irani) to the point of madness and romanced his daughter, and inspired everyone to live with courage and passion before he mysteriously disappeared.
This latest offering from director Rajkumar Hirani is suggestive of old Bollywood social movies, in which serious themes are interwoven with comedy and music. The ensemble cast is a perfect fit, and the select musical numbers resonate with the narrative rather than detracting from it. One weakness, however, is that at times the film lurches abruptly from comedy to tragedy.
But aside from the emotional whiplash, 3 Idiots will be meaningful for anyone who has ever struggled to find their bliss.