Friday, March 26, 2010

Of 3 Idiots & Idiocy

Foreword: Here's the article I promised. It was written when '3 idiots' was just released.

I have to confess – I have not watched 3 Idiots. Neither do I intend to spend a mini fortune and watch it in a hall.

It is not that I do not spend mini fortune every second weekend on movies in multiplexes. But I refuse to do it for 3 Idiots.

In past three days I have read at least 10 reviews of the movie – some by seasoned critics, some by my friends on networking sites. All of them, barring one, have gushed about the movie. Raju Hirani has been hailed as a visionary, arguably the best director of the last decade. Perhaps, he is. I have no arguments against that. His Munnabhai series was heartwarming and beautiful. But my grouch with 3 Idiots is same as Munnabhai – the casting.

When exceptional filmmakers cast actors for their films, I like to think, they take into account the entire package the actor is. So, it would an actor’s histrionic skills, persona and suitability for the character. And the last includes the compatibility between the age of the character and the actor. Raju Hirani, it seems, is so impressed by the first two criteria that he completely disregards the last.

Sanjay Dutt acted superbly as Munnabhai but the role would have been his in entirety fifteen years ago. He preached Gandhigiri while giving out ‘jadu ki jhappis’ like a champ but romancing heroines who looked more his nieces than sweetheart was a bit too much.

Same with Aamir Khan. He sang ‘Papa kehte hain’ two decades ago at his college farewell party. And he is still at college!!! He seems to sincerely believe in the ‘boyish’ image that Mansoor Khan created for him and scores of other filmmakers abetted. For years, Aamir was the chocolate hero and aptly so. And he could act. Then he decided to broaden his horizons and did so beautifully. He broke out of the mould. He was the actor with guts and the intellect to do something different. But alas! It was not to last. He turned out to be as vain as others, giving in to the temptation of playing a character, he could be playing a father to. Most reviews brought up this point only to gloss it over. To me, however, it is the biggest discomfort. Aamir does not look like a 20 year old engineering student, despite all his loud proclamations that he will be 18 till he dies. Be that as it may, but he sure does not look it.

This miscasting is quite rampant in films. And it would not be fair to say that it happens only in India. Happens abroad also. It is understandable when average movies like the forgettable Blue have a paunchy, middle aged Sanjay Dutt as the hero or a Lal Badshah has Big B dancing with Shilpa Shetty and Manisha Koirala. But I expect better of Mr. Hirani. He amazes me with his ability to create such rare gems without preaching and being pedantic. Yet his casting continues to disappoint. Why couldn’t he cast young actors with obvious potential as Ranbir Kapoor and Shahid?

A large majority of cinegoers out there would disagree and say that Aamir’s acting helps to overlook the age factor. They would go out, buy expensive tickets, gush about the movie and prove me wrong. Yet somewhere, I think, a small minority, would wonder that just may be, the movie could have done with a younger Aamir. Don’t you think so, Mr. Hirani?

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