Before I went to see Three Idiots watching the film had become something of a sacred duty. Friends telephoned from Mumbai and hissed furiously, “You mean you haven’t seen Three Idiots? Why? It’s the best movie ever.” Cousins cornered me at family gatherings and shouted, “When are you seeing Three Idiots? Its brilliant, its excellent, it’s the best.” With a chorus of “excellent”, “brilliant”, “fantastic”, “the best” ringing in my ears, jet propelled by the force of family pressure I dutifully lined up on a freezing January afternoon in Delhi, and accompanied by a glassy-eyed horde who had no doubt also been dragooned into the theatre by armies of friends and relatives, we all surged in, breathless with anticipation, to watch Three Idiots.
Three Idiots is, for all its fine comic moments, a dangerous film as it legitimizes a scorn and hatred of education, sanctions wilful dumbing down and if cinema harnesses its immense power to such films, then very soon we will become a nation of idiots, and will have to hire foreigners to do our thinking for us.
The fact that the film is so enormously popular shows how eager we are to embrace mindlessness and how keen we are to promote a culture where education and thoughtfulness are seen as obstacles to enjoying the good life. Is it any wonder that an Indian Express Indicus Analyticus study gives us the bad news that by 2020 those holding medical degrees/diplomas will go up from a shockingly low 1.3 million to only 2.1 million in the next ten years. As a nation we are in no mood to study, and Three Idiots encourages us to throw away our books because today we are chanting the mantra, “the-system-sucks-and teachers-are-pathetic-and-who-cares-about-grades-and-the-rat-race-is- foolish.”
While I don’t agree with Sagarika Ghose’s (SG) brand of journalism and her ideological leanings, I think she raises a very pertinent issue which has so far not been breached given all the hoopla surrounding the movie both pre and post-release. Leaving aside the whole issue about proper credits, and name calling by certain quarters, which in itself shows “Mr. Perfectionist” [sic] and co. in poor light, this movie is a sham and it goes against the ethos of our culture and heritage. Insulting teachers, acting like an obnoxious smart alec at the drop of a hat, playing mean lowly tricks on fellow students is not what our culture represents or teaches. Not to forget a very crass and insensitive use of a particular Hindi word, which is an unforgivable, heinous act and is very traumatic for many women around the world. “Mr. Perfectionist” and company don’t care about these things. All they care about is a fat bank balance, no matter what the cost. All the raving and ranting over this movie is nothing more than mass hysteria created by clever marketing. And of course a rather unfortunate urge in most people to be a part of the pack. I can empathize with SG when she says “…a nation of idiots…”. Unfortunately this idiocy is the result of a self-effacing education which suppresses our culture and heritage and presents a very negating history in the name of political correctness and appeasement.
The movie has also been in the news for the controversy  surrounding the credits for its story.
If news reports in the media are correct, the people involved in the film including its lead actor are threatening legal action against Mr. Chetan Bhagat. They have gone as far as to accuse Chetan of trying to gain publicity. It can’t get any more asinine than this. From his rather crass comment on a dog named after a fellow actor in the industry to badmouthing Chetan Bhagat, “Mr. Perfectionist” has come full circle. Anyone who has read the book and seen the film can judge for themselves who the idiots are. And shameless ones that too, who have the audacity to publicly cry wolf, after showing that they are nothing better than common thieves.
One netizen put it very aptly (unfortunately I don’t have the source link):
Even if you keep aside the upfront credits issue as an ethical misdemeanor by the producer within the dubious margins of legal confines, when the producer publicly says that the movie is not based or only ‘loosely’ based on the book, he is violating the contract by discrediting the book in advance. And then we have the irresponsible comments by the lead actor, although famous he may be but irresponsible nonetheless, particularly so as he claims he hasn’t read the book, which amount to slander in my opinion.
While significant original work is undoubtedly created in Hindi cinema, every so often many scriptwriters (and not to forget music directors), more so in recent times, blatantly “get inspired” from sources they seldom properly credit. Only this time it happened to be a well known author. Hence the “hullabaloo”. Chetan Bhagat’s side of the controversy    does make engaging reading.