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3 lesson from 3 Idiots

Short story of 3 Idiots movie

3 Idiots movie

That’s a question asked by what is probably the best-known Bollywood movie of the 21st Century, 3 Idiots. Directed by Rajkumar Hirani in 2009.3 Idiots delivers some spicy commentary on education, coming of age, and the definition of success. In this analysis, there are 3 key messages the film presents about learning and education  Associated with Asian countries. When I was 7 years old I believe that my grades were the most important thing about school. My parents would reward me if I got good results, and punish me when I didn’t. A decade later at 17, I believed that getting into the best schools would sort me out for life. So I needed to work hard, get the best grades, get into the best college, and then I would be successful. What I wasn’t told until much later was that good grades are not the only factor in achieving success. Good grades are an indication that someone might be precise, disciplined, and good at picking up concepts, but it doesn’t always mean that. The problem is when we try getting
good grades for the sake of getting good grades, dedicating our resources to absorbing the contents of textbooks without truly understanding them, and not realizing that these concepts need to be applied to real life. This leads us to the first key message from 3 Idiots. Chase excellence, not success. This message is a powerful one, so much so that it’s directly mentioned on at least 3 separate occasions in the movie. 3 Idiots is about Indian college students. Who deals with the overwhelming pressure to succeed from parents, teachers, and their peers. Like several other Asian countries, India is known to have an incredibly competitive schooling system, with academic success inextricably linked to career success and happiness. Our protagonist, Rancho, turns this concept on its head. Rancho loves machines, and he is motivated to study Engineering because of his curiosity to learn and be a good engineer. Throughout the film, we see time and again how he applies his excellent thinking to solving problems, whether it’s to standing up to a bully, fixing a drone for a classmate, or delivering a baby without any medical knowledge. Rancho chases excellence. On the flip side, the problem of chasing academic success manifests itself in the character of Chatur, who champions the idea of memorization or rote learning, and is driven by the idea that getting good grades makes him more likely to be successful in his future. The film explicitly shows us the negative effects of such an opinion, after Chatur memorizes a speech in Hindi, only to embarrass himself because some of the words had been changed. He didn’t realize it. He becomes so angry and jealous of Rancho, that he challenges him to see if
his method of rote learning will make him more successful in the long run. At the end of the film, we see how Rancho has started a new school for inventors, passing his learning ideology down to the next generation. I really like how this scene also showcases the innovation in India, by displaying a few real-life Indian inventions, such as a bicycle-powered clipper, and a scooter-powered flour mill. Now we look at Chatur, who, while becoming very wealthy, is clearly still focused on his own material wealth, and is ironically dependent on Rancho to sign a big-money deal with him. Notice how Chatur chases success in the form of big-money deals, whereas Rancho is having success in the form of this deal chase him, exactly as foreshadowed earlier in the film. It’s important for us to realize
that, while many people still look at good grades in a very positive light. They’re ultimately not as important as learning with a consistent hunger in order to understand how things work, and applying those learnings to improve the lives of others. It’s no coincidence that the movie associates Rancho’s success with the act of helping others, whereas it associates Chatur with selfishness and the act of pushing others down. In the 21st century, it’s becoming more and more obvious that critical thinking is important in someone’s education, and that leads us to the second key message from 3 Idiots: Challenge the Norm. One thing that is very apparent in the 3 Idiots is that the world
is full of rigid structures. Everything has to fit a certain pre-determined framework in order to be considered good. A child must either grow up to become a doctor or an engineer. An answer is only correct if it fits the definition in the textbook. The better you score in exams, the closer you sit to the professor. This is one of many examples proving that Rancho is the perfect character to inhabit this world. Rancho’s values are in complete opposition to the values of the story world, and so the story world is ripe for disruption. Rancho challenges the norm when what is considered normal is not very useful. This is clear from the very first time we meet Rancho, during a frat-like hazing of college freshmen. Rancho decides to avoid this hazing, and when a senior attempts to harass him, Rancho responds by
electrocuting him with a makeshift conductor. This establishes Rancho as someone with spunk, intelligence, and the naivety to stand up to people more senior than him. Raju overcomes the burden of fear and ends with newfound confidence, securing a competitive job offer in spite of his poor academic record. The concept of ‘Aal Is Well’ that Rancho spreads is quite similar to what author Jim Collins calls the ‘Stockdale Paradox. In his book on leadership, ‘Good to Great Collins describes the story of Vietnam War Prisoner James Stockdale, who famously said ‘You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be. This is a powerful lesson on mentality which we can apply to school, company projects, or our personal goals. It’s not enough to tell yourself everything is well and good, you also have to acknowledge the situation. You have in front of you, and tackle it head-on with the belief that you will achieve success in the end. As we see in 3 Idiots, none of our main characters tell themselves ‘Aal Izz Well’ for the sake of calming themselves alone. They also use it to find the courage to confront their inner demons in the present moment. So to recap, we need to chase excellence, challenge the norm, and reassure ourselves that ‘Aal Izz well’. These 3 lessons come into play beautifully during the climax of the film. When Mona goes into labor during a flood, Pia decides to challenge convention by getting Rancho to deliver the baby on his own. When the power goes out and Mona is too tired to push, Rancho utilizes his excellent engineering skill to design a vacuum, successfully
pulling the baby out. While you could argue that this next part is pretty heavy-handed, the use of the phrase ‘Aal Izz Well’ eventually helps to save the baby’s life. A story beat foreshadowed earlier in the film. This kind of synthesis is the reason why films like 3 Idiots are not only exciting and heartwarming, but reflective of the many real challenges
we face in our daily lives, and the ways we can overcome them. After the movie’s release, it was reported to have had a positive influence on the education systems of some Asian countries, including China, where one report stated that universities were prescribing the film as coursework. Unfortunately, that seems to be as far as it goes when it comes to the film’s tangible impact. This is a shame because this is a film that schools around the world can benefit from. Sure, you could say that the achievements of the students in 3 Idiots is the thing of fiction, that these ideas could only work in movies and not in the real world. While I agree that the world can be very complex, films reflect what our world could be, and how the people in our societies can support one another. Films contain big ideas, and it’s up to us if we want to make use of them or not. It’s for this reason that 3 Idiots holds up so well even today, as a source of big ideas for students, employees, and people, in general, to educate themselves with.

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