Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rajkumar Hirani|
|Produced by||Vidhu Vinod Chopra|
|Screenplay by||Abhijat Joshi|
Vidhu Vinod Chopra
|Story by||Rajkumar Hirani|
|Based on||Five Point Someone by |
|Narrated by||R. Madhavan|
|Cinematography||C. K. Muraleedharan|
|Edited by||Rajkumar Hirani|
|Distributed by||Reliance BIG Pictures|
|Budget||₹ 55 crore|
|Box office||est. ₹ 460 crore|
3 Idiots is a 2009 Indian Hindi-language coming-of-age comedy-drama film co-written (with Abhijat Joshi) and directed by Rajkumar Hirani. Starring Aamir Khan, R. Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Kareena Kapoor, Boman Irani and Omi Vaidya in the lead roles, the film follows the friendship of three students at an Indian engineering college and is a satire about the social pressures under an Indian education system. The film is narrated through parallel dramas, one in the present and the other ten years in the past.
Produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra under the banner Vinod Chopra Films, and based on Chetan Bhagat's novel Five Point Someone : What Not to Do At IIT?, the film incorporated real Indian inventions, namely those created by Remya Jose, Mohammad Idris, Jahangir Painter and Sonam Wangchuk. It received widespread critical and commercial success upon its release on 25 December 2009. It was also the highest-grossing film in its opening weekend in India, had the highest opening day collections for an Indian film up until that point and also held the record for the highest net collections in the first week for a Bollywood film. It also became one of the few Indian films at the time to become successful in East Asian markets such as China and Japan, eventually bringing its worldwide gross to ₹392 crore ($90 million)[a] — it was the highest-grossing Indian film ever at the time. The film also had a social impact on attitudes to education in India, as well as education in other Asian countries such as China.
The film won six Filmfare Awards including Best Film and three National Film Awards including Best Popular Film. Overseas, it won the Grand Prize at Japan's Videoyasan Awards while was nominated for Best Outstanding Foreign Language Film at the Japan Academy Awards and Best Foreign Film at China's Beijing International Film Festival. This film was remade in Tamil as Nanban (2012), which also received critical praise and commercial success. Nanban had a Telugu dubbed version titled Snehitudu. A Mexican remake, 3 idiotas, was also released in 2017.
Farhan Qureshi (R. Madhavan) is a young man who has just boarded a flight which is about to take off when he receives a call from someone who has news for him and, upon ending the call, realizes that he needs to get off as soon as possible. Since the flight has already taken off, he fakes a heart attack to make way for an emergency landing of the plane, and once within the airport premises, blows his cover in front of the confused medics who try to stop him. However, he escapes to the airport exit, faking his identity in the process to find a taxi driver, and calls up his friend Raju Rastogi (Sharman Joshi), asking him to be ready soon so he can pick him up, as he exclaims that long lost friend, Rancho, has been found. Raju joins Farhan, though he amusingly finds out he has forgotten his pants in a hurry. They reach the terrace of the Imperial College of Engineering, or ICE, their Alma mater, where they find their former classmate, Chatur "Silencer" Ramalingam (Omi Vaidya) waiting for them. Chatur, who was the one to have called the two, pesters them with details of his lavish life in the United States and exclaims that he kept his promise of returning to the same location, 10 years after he had challenged Rancho with the same. Although Farhan retaliates with Raju getting angry, Chatur reveals he knows where Rancho is - he's apparently living in Shimla. The trio sets off on a road journey in Chatur's car, with Farhan narrating the story of Rancho, who filled his and Raju's lives with fun and joy.
In the year 1999, Farhan enters the prestigious ICE in Delhi, and meets Manmohan a.k.a. "Millimetre", an adolescent boy helping the students with random chores, who escorts him to his room. There, he meets his roommate, Raju, who constantly engages in religious worship all the time. During the time their seniors rag them, a newbie, Ranchhoddas "Rancho" Shamaldas Chanchad (Aamir Khan) arrives, and in an attempt to avoid being ragged, injures the head senior in the process by pulling off a simple trick. Farhan and Raju soon realize that Rancho, new in campus, is their roommate.
Millimeter is persuaded by Rancho the next day to sneak into school and get educated. While Farhan chose to pursue engineering over his passion for photography to appease his father, Raju has taken the course in an attempt to end his family's poverty and is always afraid of failing. Rancho, on the other hand, is genuinely passionate in science and engineering. He believes in hands-on learning and tends to give unorthodox answers in class, resulting in him coming into conflict with the professors, particularly the institution's director, Viru Sahastrabuddhe (Boman Irani), whom the ICE community nicknames "Virus", and whose traditional and strict philosophies on education contrast sharply with Rancho's carefree love of learning. Meanwhile, Chatur, who has a habit of silently farting, is shown to be an arrogant student with little knowledge of Hindi due to his Ugandan-Tamilian upbringing, who is obsessed with topping the exams and invariably learns by rote.
Sometime later, the trio finds that a student named Joy Lobo (Ali Fazal), whose interest in machines was as much as Rancho, committed suicide by hanging himself, which was caused by depression after Virus informs Joy's father that Joy would be unable to graduate that year due to a delay in his submission of an assignment. Joy had taken longer as he wanted to perfect his breakthrough drone design of a quad-copter, and also due to a break on account of his father's brief illness. Rancho criticises Virus' method of teaching and tries to show him how much pressure engineers face when they study, angering him further. Virus writes a letter to the Qureshis and Rastogis, and Rancho visits the two families, though none of them is able to pacify his hunger. Rancho suddenly notices a wedding in front of him while walking, and the trio then gatecrashes the wedding of Virus' elder daughter, Mona to eat good food. They meet and befriend Pia (Kareena Kapoor), who Rancho advises not to marry her fiancée, Suhas Tandon (Olivier Sanjay Lafont) because he's madly obsessed with expensive jewelery, brands, and prices and has no true love for her, by giving a demo on Suhas' attitude by spilling mint sauce on his shoes to annoy him. As it turns out, Pia is revealed to be Virus' daughter. When Virus spots the trio, who find out that the wedding is of Pia's elder sister Mona (Mona Singh), he summons Farhan and Raju on the next working day and warns them of the consequences of being friends with Rancho by comparing their families' incomes. He tells them that Rancho comes from a very rich family and does not need to worry about getting good grades and making a career.
Affected, Raju moves out and into Chatur's room. During the Teachers Day celebration, Chatur is humiliated when he delivers a Hindi speech modified by Rancho and as a result, he bets Rancho that ten years later, they would see who is more successful. Sometime later, Pia is at the mall with Suhas and spots Rancho with an invention named after Virus; The Virus Inverter. Rancho explains to Pia that he dislikes the way her father teaches his students and that they end up lame like Suhas. Rancho plays a prank on Suhas, pretending that Pia lost her watch, to prove that Suhas shows more value to expensive stuff rather than her. Fed up with Suhas' behaviour, she tells him off. Rancho and Pia save Raju's dying father; Raju reconciles with his friends while Pia falls in love with Rancho. The trio then writes exams the next day, but only Rancho tops, while Raju and Farhan score last. During a photography session of the batch, Rancho, who sits besides Virus and Chatur, earns a bet from Virus, who promises that he will get his mustache shaved.
Farhan, Raju and Chatur, at present, finally reach Shimla. When they reach the Chanchad Palace, Rancho's residence, they instead end up encountering a very different man instead, who reveals that he is indeed Ranchhoddas Shamaldas Chanchad (Javed Jaffrey). Initially shocked, Farhan suddenly spots Rancho's degree on one of the walls, and below it, the same batch photograph they had clicked, but the trio is shocked to find that instead of Rancho, the image of this real Ranchhoddas has been morphed into it. Perplexed, Farhan and Raju inquire more about Rancho's location from Chatur, who reveals that in pursuit of a world renowned scientist, Phunsukh Wangdu, who has 400 patents to his credit and is currently being searched by the Japanese and Chatur himself since a year in order to seek an appointment for a business proposal, he came to identify Rancho's location with the help of Phunsukh's secretary Tracy, and the two spot a photo given by Chatur in which Tracy had probably accidentally captured Rancho in her selfie. Farhan, convinced that there is more to the story than meets the eye, decides to confront the Ranchhoddas Shamaldas Chanchad they had just met. However, as this Ranchhoddas pulls out a rifle on Farhan and Raju, Chatur runs out of the Chanchad Palace in fear, but Farhan and Raju grab hold of Shamaldas Chanchad's ashes and threaten to pull a confession out of "Ranchhoddas", who ends up inadvertantly confessing that he is actually the real Ranchhoddas Shamaldas Chanchad, and that the Ranchhoddas they knew, or rather addressed as Rancho, was actually Chhote, the son of their family gardener, who had a great interest in learning and would sit in random classes and gain a lot of knowledge. Once, when Chhote was caught by the school headmaster while solving a mathematical problem, he was summoned by the master to Shamaldas, who insisted that he be sent in lieu of Ranchoddas, who flew off and stayed in London for the four years that Chhote, or the "Rancho" they knew, masqueraded as Ranchhoddas Shamaldas Chanchad, so that the real Ranchhoddas could have a degree, while "Rancho" only wanted knowledge; Shamaldas also asked Chhote to cut off all contact with his ICE friends, but Chhote would always personally remind Ranchhoddas that, some day, two idiots would come looking for him, and he won't be able to stop that. Teary-eyed, Farhan and Raju promise to keep the real Ranchhoddas Shamaldas Chanchad's story a secret as he gives them Chhote's address, and reunite with Chatur, to whom they reveal that "Rancho" is in Ladakh, and the location is of a school, to which Chatur mockingly responds by concluding that Rancho is now a schoolteacher, and has probably failed the challenge.
The film then flashes back to the past, when, one night during their final year, Farhan and Raju are upset that they are trailing behind in their grades every year and that Rancho is always in the front of every picture. Farhan and Raju accuse Rancho of not confessing his feelings to Pia, and they make a bet - if Rancho proposes to Pia, Raju will give up his meaningless rituals and multiple finger rings, while Farhan will confess to his father that he loves photography. The three friends drunkenly break into the Sahastrabuddhe residence after Rancho accepts the challenge. As the trio escapes, Virus recognises Raju and, on the next day, threatens to expel him unless he writes a letter recommending Rancho for expulsion. Unwilling to betray Rancho or disappoint his family, Raju unsuccessfully attempts suicide and ends up in a coma. With intensive care and support from his friends, Raju recovers just in time for his first job interview on the campus, which he succeeds in cracking. Meanwhile, Rancho and Pia post Farhan's letter to his favourite Hungarian wildlife photographer Andre Istvan, who offers him a position as an assistant. On Rancho's advice, he communicates his dream to his father, who though reluctant at first, gives his blessings for the sake of his son's happiness.
Infuriated by this and Rancho's influence, Virus sets a difficult final exam paper to fail Raju, wherein Pia tries to help the trio by revealing to them the location of the exam paper in her father's office; the film flashes again to present day, when Farhan suddenly remembers Pia and convinces Raju during a minute's halt to get her to elope. They find out that Pia is getting married to Suhas, and gatecrash the ceremony secretly. Farhan confronts Pia and reveals to her that Rancho has been found, but while she initially conveys her opinion of a changed Suhas, she hears Suhas cry out after Raju, who has substituted himself as an imposter in place of one of the housekeeping staff members, intentionally ruins his wedding robe. He escapes, and later, manages to replace Suhas during the actual wedding. When he asks Pia to keep mum after revealing his identity, she gets afraid, and he ends up revealing himself. Virus is shocked, but Mona holds him back. Raju convinces Pia to run away so they can all reunite with Rancho, and Suhas turns up a second too late, as Pia and Raju are conversing. Finally, they elope, though they confuse Pia further when they state that they aren't sure if Rancho is married. Pia remains miffed.
The film flashes back again to the past, when Farhan and Rancho successfully manage to steal a copy of the difficult question paper for Raju; unfortunately, Virus finds out and expels them all. Pia confronts Virus about her brother who had committed suicide because he couldn't meet Virus' expectation of clearing the engineering exam. That same night, the pregnant Mona goes into labour during a heavy storm that cuts off all traffic and electricity in the city. Rancho and the other students help them by using their engineering knowledge to quickly modify a vacuum cleaner into a ventouse and deliver the baby with the help of Pia over a video call. A grateful Virus finally acknowledges Rancho as an extraordinary student and revokes their expulsion. On graduation day, Rancho suddenly disappears shortly after the ceremony ends.
Upon arrival in Ladakh, the four head to the village school and witness the young students' inventions, which resemble Chhote's college projects. While inquiring for Chhote, they stumble upon a lad who takes them to a room; the lad shows Farhan, now revealed to have become a successful wildlife photographer, his own books on wildlife which he wrote, and narrates that "Chhote" reads them regulalry. He also shows Raju glimpses of his blogs, and narrates that "Chhote" proudly discusses Raju's research works with the kids. After similarly showing Pia her scooter helmet, he reveals that he is actually "Centimeter", a grown up Manmohan, who has now become a helper for Chhote after receiving a letter from him to help him. Aft6er a cheerful reunion between Farhan, Centimeter and Raju, Pia asks where Chhote is.
Rancho is revealed to be flying a miniature plane when Pia rides a scooter to his location and passionately kisses him when he reveasl that he has always been in love with her. Farhan and Raju initially hit Rancho and then hug each other out of joy, while Chatur, unaware of Chhote's secret and thinking he is Rancho, insults and asks Chhote to sign a contract stating that he is the least successful person; Chhote does so without commenting. As Chatur walks away triumphantly, the three friends ask Chhote what his real name is, and he reveasl that he is Phunsukh Wangdu, much to the other three's surprise and delight. They try to stop Chatur, who doesn't, so Phunsukh phones him, saying he can't sign a deal with his company. Realizing that Rancho is the real Phunsukh Wangdu, a horrified Chatur accepts his defeat and pleads him to sign his contract while Phunsukh and his friends run away laughing.
In the end, Phunsukh tells everyone his theory: "Follow excellence and success will by itself follow you".
- Aamir Khan as Ranchhoddas "Rancho" Shamaldas Chanchad / Chhote / Phunsukh Wangdu, one of the titular trio in the engineering college who vanishes after graduation and whom his two friends hunt for 5 years, while telling stories of their time in college together. Rancho was prodigal student, with contempt for the inhumanity of the college's system. At the end of the film, he is shown to be a famous scientist, entrepreneur and business magnate who also teaches young children when he takes a break from researching.
- Madhavan as Farhan Qureshi, the film's narrator and one of the trio whose father persuades him to study engineering over his dream career of wildlife photography; in the end he is shown to have published several books of photographs.
- Sharman Joshi as Raju Rastogi, another of the trio who comes from an impoverished family with a mother who is a retired school teacher and a paralysed father who worked as a postman. In the flashback story, his family was unable to afford the car that would be demanded as a dowry for his sister. In the present story, he is a settled married man in Delhi who has freed his family from poverty by becoming a wealthy executive.
- Kareena Kapoor as Pia Sahastrabuddhe, Virus' younger daughter, an intelligent and capable doctor. Despite her father's disapproval, she and Rancho fall in love.
- Boman Irani as Dr. Viru Sahastrabuddhe, the college's strict director known as "Virus" and Pia and Mona's father who acts as the film's antagonist. He stubbornly sticks to a doctrinal method of teaching, putting him at odds with Rancho. At the end, he is shown to have changed his doctrinal methods of teaching.
- Omi Vaidya as Chatur Ramalingam, a Ugandan-Indian educated in Tamil-speaking Pondicherry who has little knowledge of Hindi. His habit of being gassy due to consumption of pills to enhance his memorisation earns him the nickname Silencer. In the present story, he is vice-president of an American company (Rockledge Corporation) who discovers his success being overshadowed by Rancho in the end of the film. Baradwaj Rangan wrote that Chatur being a Tamil from Uganda makes him "twice removed from the North Indians around him – a stranger to the nation as well as the national language."
- Rahul Kumar as young Manmohan (nicknamed Millimetre), and Dushyant Wagh as adult Manmohan (Centimetre). As an adolescent, he earns a small living by doing errands for students, such as laundry, finishing assignments and getting groceries. Rancho persuades him to buy a school uniform and sneak into school to gain an education. Later he becomes an assistant to Rancho/Phunsukh Wangdu in Ladakh.
- Mona Singh as Mona Sahastrabuddhe, Pia's elder sister and Virus's first daughter.
- Olivier Lafont as Suhas Tandon
- Parikshit Sahni as Mr Qureshi, Farhan's father, a strict but loving parent who just wants his son to be happy.
- Farida Dadi as Mrs. Qureshi, Farhan's mother, a loving and caring parent.
- Amardeep Jha as Mrs. Rastogi, Raju's mother, a retired schoolteacher and dedicated mother.
- Mukund Bhatt as Mr. Rastogi, Raju's paralysed father who used to work as a postman.
- Rajendra Patwardhan as Govind, Viru's personal assistant.
- Javed Jaffrey as the real Ranchoddas Shyamaldas Chanchad. It is from him that Raju and Farhan learn the truth: Chanchad's father sponsored an orphaned servant boy called 'Chhote', who had demonstrated his intelligence and love of learning, to earn a degree in his name, while the real Ranchoddas was in London. He appreciates what Chhote did for him, and tells Raju and Farhan where to find him.
- Arun Bali as Shyamaldas Chanchad, father of Ranchoddas Shyamaldas Chanchad.
- Ali Fazal as Joy Lobo, a student with a passion for machines. After Virus tells him that he will not graduate, he commits suicide.
- Akhil Mishra as Librarian Dubey.
- Rohitash Gaud as Ranchoddas' (Real Ranchodas) servant.
- Achyut Potdar as Machine Class Professor
- Madhav Vaze as Joy Lobo's father.
- Olivier Sanjay Lafont as Suhas Tandon, Piya's ex-fiancé, who cares only about money and ostentation.
- Jayant Kripalani as a company head who conducts Raju's job interview.
- Atul Tiwari as R.D. Tripathi, Education Minister in Auditorium during Silencer's speech.
- Rajeev Ravindranathan as ragging senior student.
- Supriya Shukla as Nurse with Pia.
Principal photography began on 28 July 2008. Hirani and his team left in late August for the shoot with the principal cast. The film was shot in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Ladakh, Chail and Shimla. Aamir and the rest of the cast began shooting in early September. Hirani planned to wrap up the film by December. The first scene was shot in an aircraft with Madhavan. From Mumbai, the crew and cast comprising Aamir and Kareena went to Ladakh for a 20-day schedule. Filming of the ICE college scenes took place at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore campus for 33 days as a part of the second schedule of production, as well as parts of Bangalore doubling for New Delhi. The dormitory scenes were filmed at the institution's female dormitory block.
The brains behind these innovations include Remya Jose, a student from Kerala, who created the pedal operated washing-machine; Mohammad Idris, a barber from Hasanpur Kalan in Meerut district in Uttar Pradesh, who invented a bicycle-powered horse clipper; and Jahangir Painter, a painter from Maharashtra, who made the scooter-powered flour mill. The character Phunsuk Wangdu may have also drawn inspiration from Ladakhi inventor Sonam Wangchuk, a mechanical engineering graduate from the National Institute of Technology, Srinagar.
|Soundtrack album by|
|Genre||Feature film soundtrack|
|Shantanu Moitra chronology|
|1.||"Aal Izz Well"||Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Swanand Kirkire||4:34|
|2.||"Zoobi Doobi"||Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal||4:06|
|3.||"Behti Hawa Sa Tha Woh"||Shantanu Moitra, Shaan||4:59|
|4.||"Give Me Some Sunshine"||Suraj Jagan, Sharman Joshi, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan||4:05|
|5.||"Jaane Nahin Denge Tujhe"||Sonu Nigam||3:30|
|6.||"Zoobi Doobi" (Remix)||Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal||3:27|
|7.||"Aal Izz Well" (Remix)||Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Swanand Kirkire, Jaive Samsun||4:41|
The film initially opened up on 1550 prints worldwide. 3 Idiots was released in 1800 theatres in India, which was at that time a big domestic release. 3 Idiots was released in 415 screens overseas.
It was expected to be the first Indian film to be officially released on YouTube on 25 March 2010, only 12 weeks after its initial theatrical release. Officially, it was released on YouTube in May 2012, but its access has since been restricted. However, it has been made available for online streaming on Netflix, Prime Video and Sony LIV.
The film released in Taiwan on December 2010, followed by Hong Kong on 1 September 2011. In China, it was released as San Geshagua ("Three Idiots"), in December 2011. In South Korea, it was released in 2011. Alongside the original Hindi version, a Mandarin Chinese dubbed version was also released, with the popular actress Tang Wei (known for Lust, Caution) voicing Kareena Kapoor's role and Huang Bo voicing Aamir Khan's role (Khan and Bo later collaborated again on Secret Superstar).
Following its success in other Asian markets, Japanese distributor Nikkatsu announced plans to release the film in Japan. It was released there in June 2013, with the title きっと、うまくいく (Kitto, Umaku Iku).
The film's worldwide lifetime gross was ₹459.96 crore (US$90 million),[a] making it the highest-grossing Indian film at the time. The film was listed in Guinness World Records for the record of highest box office film gross for a Bollywood film.
The film created the highest collection record for paid previews with ₹27.5 million that time, which was broken by Chennai Express (2013). In its four-day first weekend, the film netted ₹38 crore (equivalent to ₹77 crore or US$11 million in 2019), and broke the record held by Ghajini for the first weekend collections. By the first week, the film netted ₹79 crore (equivalent to ₹160 crore or US$22 million in 2019), again breaking the box office record held by Ghajini. 3 Idiots had nett grossed ₹56 crore (equivalent to ₹113 crore or US$16 million in 2019) in its 2nd week, ₹302.5 million (US$4.2 million) during the third week, ₹16 crore (equivalent to ₹32 crore or US$4.5 million in 2019) in its fourth week and ₹9.75 crore (equivalent to ₹20 crore or US$2.8 million in 2019) in fifth to make a total of ₹ 202 crore in five weeks, first Indian film ever to collect this huge amount, hence established the ₹200 crore (US$28 million) Club. Its final domestic gross in India was ₹ 273.82 crore (US$57.05 million).[a]
3 Idiots became the then highest-grossing Indian film in overseas markets, with an overseas gross of US$30.5 million (₹ 186 crore).[a] Its first weekend opening collection overseas was $4 million. It set record collections for Indian-produced films in territories such as the United States and Australia. In the United States, the film earned $6.5 million since its opening, in addition to over $2.5 million in the United Kingdom, over $2 million in Canada, and nearly $1 million in Australia. 3 Idiots has the biggest first week total in the US with around $3 million over its first four days.
Unusual for an Indian film at the time, 3 Idiots became a success in East Asian markets. 3 Idiots had a wide release in East Asian markets including China, South Korea and Hong Kong. The film had the longest showing period at cinemas in Taiwan, for more than two months from December 2010, breaking the record of Avatar, with over NT$10 million (US$629,024) grossed. 3 Idiots was the first aired Indian film in Hong Kong, where it grossed HK$22 million at the box office since its showing from 1 September 2011 through January 2012, the equivalent of US$3.02 million. It was the 14th highest-grossing film of 2011 at the Hong Kong box office.
In South Korea, where it was released in 2011, the film grossed ₩3,416,415,900 (US$3,084,647). The film was number-one at the South Korean box office for five weeks, drawing an audience of 459,686 viewers.
In China, where it is known as San Geshagua ("Three Idiots"), the film grossed ₹11 crore in 2 weeks in December 2011, eventually crossing the $2 million mark within 18 days, and nearly $3 million within a month, as of 5 January 2012.
Upon its release in the Japanese market in June 2013, it went on to collect around ¥100 million (₹ 61 million) in its first two weeks of run – that makes the film the highest grossing Hindi film ever in Japan. Its final gross in Japan was ¥150 million (US$1.6 million). The film's final gross in East Asian markets was US$11,333,671 (₹69.2 crore).
Subhash K. Jha stated: "It's not that 3 Idiots is a flawless work of art. But it is a vital, inspiring and life-revising work of contemporary art with some heart imbued into every part. In a country where students are driven to suicide by their impossible curriculum, 3 Idiots provides hope. Maybe cinema can't save lives. But cinema, sure as hell, can make you feel life is worth living. 3 Idiots does just that, and much more. The director takes the definition of entertainment into directions of social comment". Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India gave it four and a half stars and suggests that, "The film is a laugh riot, despite being high on fundas […] Hirani carries forward his simplistic 'humanism alone works' philosophy of the Lage Raho Munna Bhai series in 3 Idiots too, making it a warm and vivacious signature tune to 2009. The second half of the film does falter in parts, specially the child birth sequence, but it doesn't take long for the film to jump back on track." Mayank Shekhar of the Hindustan Times gave the film three and a half out of five stars and comments that "this is the sort of movie you'll take home with a smile and a song on your lips." Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama gave 3 Idiots four and a half out of five stars and states: "On the whole, 3 Idiots easily ranks amongst Aamir, Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra's finest films. Do yourself and your family a favour: Watch 3 Idiots. It's emotional, it's entertaining, it's enlightening. The film has tremendous youth appeal and feel-good factor to work in a big way." Kaveree Bamzai of India Today gave 3 Idiots five stars and argues that "it's a lovely story, of a man from nowhere who wanted to learn, told like a fairy tale, with the secret heart carrying its coded message of setting all of us free."
Sonia Chopra of Sify gave the film 3 stars and said "Though a bit too calculated and designed, 3 Idiots is still an ok option for the significant message, interesting cast and scattered breezy moments." Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN gave the film three out of five stars and states: "Going home after watching 3 Idiots I felt like I'd just been to my favorite restaurant only to be a tad under-whelmed by their signature dish. It was a satisfying meal, don't get me wrong, but not the best meal I'd been expecting." Shubhra Gupta from The Indian Express also gave it 3 stars, stating "'3 Idiots' does not do as much for me. The emotional truth that shone through both the 'Munnabhai' movies doesn't come through strongly enough." Raja Sen of Rediff gave the film two out of five stars and states: "Rajkumar Hirani's one of the directors of the decade, a man with immense talent and a knack for storytelling. On his debut, he hit a hundred. With his second, he hit a triple century. This time, he fishes outside the offstump, tries to play shots borrowed from other batters, and hits and misses to provide a patchy, 32*-type innings. It's okay, boss, *chalta hai*. Even Sachin has an off day, and we still have great hope."
The film has received praise overseas. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rare 100% "Fresh" critics' rating based on 13 reviews, with an average score of 7.44 out of 10. Derek Elley of Variety wrote that "3 Idiots takes a while to lay out its game plan but pays off emotionally in its second half." Robert Abele of Los Angeles Times wrote that there's an "unavoidable joie de vivre (symbolized by Rancho's meditative mantra 'All is well') and a performance charm that make this one of the more naturally gregarious Bollywood imports." Louis Proyect described it as a "fabulous achievement across the board. A typical Bollywood confection but also social commentary on a dysfunctional engineering school system that pressures huge numbers of students into suicide."
The film was praised by critics in East Asia and Southeast Asia. South China Morning Post wrote that the film "wraps a heavy message in light comedy. It is satire at its best, a powerful indictment of India's education system in which students cram for exams while stifling their dreams." Chaerim Oh of KAIST Herald wrote that "the film never harshly denounces the educational system but instead uncovers disturbing truths and unseen consequences of tremendous pressure upon students" and that "if you don't end up crying like I did (or won't admit that you did), you'll still enjoy the movie." In Japan, Yuri Wakabayashi of Eiga also gave the film a positive review.
In 2013, renowned Hollywood filmmaker Steven Spielberg praised 3 Idiots, which he had seen three times and said he "loved the emotional undertones." He listed it as one of five films that he connects with, along with The Godfather (1972) and his own work on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Jaws (1975).
|Territories and ancillary revenues||Price|
|Satellite rights with a TV channel [Sony]||₹22 crore (US$3.1 million)|
|Worldwide distribution rights||₹65 crore (US$9.1 million)|
|Music rights (T~Series)||₹12 crore (US$1.7 million)|
|Total||₹99 crore (US$14 million)|
- The figures don't include the Print and Advertising (P&A) costs.
The film won 58 accolades from Indian film awards; among these are six Filmfare Awards including Best Film and Best Director, three National Film Awards including Best Popular Film, ten Star Screen Awards, seventeen IIFA Awards, five GIMA Awards, two Apsara Awards and seven Bollywood Hungama Surfers Choice Movie Awards.
In China, it was nominated for the Best Foreign Film prize at the first Beijing International Film Festival in 2011. In Japan, it was nominated in the Best Outstanding Foreign Language Film category at the 37th Japan Academy Awards in 2014; the award was eventually won by Les Miserables. In addition, 3 Idiots won the Grand Prize at the 4th Videoyasan Awards, held by a Japanese organisation of home video retailers in 2014; 3 Idiots was selected as 2013's best video release, beating thousands of films, anime and television shows, including domestic Japanese and foreign Hollywood productions.
- Chetan gave me this book to read and I wanted to make a film on it. But I knew right from the start that I could not make a film completely on the book, as it was very anecdotal and a film needs a plot. So I had decided to rewrite it in a screenplay format. You'll see that the film is very different from the book. After I wrote the script, I called Chetan and narrated it to him. I told him that if he did not like the script, I would stop the project. But he was okay with it.
The day after the film opened, Chetan also noted:
- Initially I did sit down with Raju and Abhijat while they were deciding to make a film based on '5 Point Someone'. I even went to IIT with Abhijat a couple of times. But it was just not possible for me to be involved at every stage of the screenplay writing process since I was in Hong Kong at that time, working full-time and busy writing other books. Moreover, Abhijat is based in USA, Raju was in the US for quite a while working on the screenplay but it was not practical for me to do that […] The film retains the soul of the book. 3 Idiots is different from the book but at the same time it does borrow many things from the book. The core theme and message of the film is coming from the book itself. And that's why the makers have officially credited the film as 'Based on a novel by Chetan Bhagat.'
A controversy developed a few days after the release, however, over the fact that Chetan's credit, "Based on the novel Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat" appeared in the closing credits rather than in the opening ones. At that time, Bhagat stated that he "was expecting an opening credit and I was quite surprised on not seeing it. They had bought the rights, made the payment and committed to a credit in the contract. It's there, but it's not about it being there, it's about the placement and the prominence." In a 31 December 2009 blog post on his personal website, Bhagat stated that he was told the movie was only 2–5% based on the book, but when he saw it, he felt that it was 70% of the book. He also argued that he was misled by the makers of the film, though he noted, that "this has nothing to do with Mr Aamir Khan […] I am a big fan of Aamir and he has made my story reach people. However, he was told by the makers not to read the book, and he hasn't. Thus, he cannot comment on the issue in a meaningful manner."
A few people responded to Chetan's statements. According to the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra clarified that "in the agreement between the producer and Bhagat, it was clearly mentioned that the author's name would be put in the closing credits". IANS also reported that Chopra "lost his cool" and "asked a reporter to shut up after being questioned whether his hit 3 Idiots was lifted from author Chetan Bhagat's book Five Point Someone." Chopra later apologised, stating: "I really think I'm silly. I was provoked, but I shouldn't have done this. I saw myself on TV and saw how I was shouting 'shut up, shut up' like an animal. I told myself — 'what nonsensical behaviour'." Aamir Khan also responded to these claims. Rajkumar Hirani stated that "We have officially bought the rights for the film. We drew a contract with him and it clearly mentions about the position of his credit. With open eyes he had seen the contract, consulted his lawyer and signed the agreement […] In the contract, we have said that the title would be given in the rolling credits. We haven't changed the font size. We haven't increased the speed of the title. It's exactly there where it was agreed to be." Chetan Bhagat later apologised stating, "I definitely do not have anything against team 3 Idiots. I may have some issues on the mistake they may have made but nothing about their personality or the kind of people they are. I apologise to their families if there was any distress caused to them. I also want to thank all my fans, who stood by me but I don't want them to turn against anyone especially Aamir."
In an article published in Economic and Political Weekly, Latika Gupta mentions that the film has serious problems when seen from the gender perspective, in particular that it follows the trend set by the 2007 film Jab We Met in its use of women's sexual vulnerability to create sensation and humor. In one scene, students, professors and the chief guest are seen bursting with laughter hearing a speech where the word balatkar (rape) figures 21 times and the word stan (breast) four times (in the English subtitles for international release, the words "screwed" and "bosom" are used instead).
When 3 Idiots made its television debut in July 2010, it drew an audience of 39 million viewers in India.
When 3 Idiots released in China, the country was only the 15th largest film market, partly due to China's widespread pirate DVD distribution at the time. However, it was the pirate market that introduced 3 Idiots to most Chinese audiences, becoming a cult film in the country. Aamir Khan gained a large growing Chinese fanbase as a result. By 2013, China grew to become the world's second largest film market (after the United States), paving the way for Aamir Khan's Chinese box office success, with Dhoom 3 (2013), PK (2014), Dangal (2016) and Secret Superstar (2017).
3 Idiots has been ranked China's 12th favourite film of all time according to ratings on popular Chinese film review site Douban, with only one domestic Chinese film (Farewell My Concubine) ranked higher. The film holds an average rating of 9.2 out of 10 on Douban, with over 1.15 million votes. On the Korean site Naver, audiences gave the film an average rating of 9.4 out of 10, and it is one of the top 30 highest-rated films on the site.
One reason for its success in East Asian markets such as China and Hong Kong is because of their similar education systems, thus many students were able to identify with the characters. Chaerim Oh of KAIST Herald wrote that the "popularity of the movie, particularly in South Korea, can be traced back to the national background of the overly competitive education system. In Korea, students of all ages - from young elementary children to university graduate students - are trained to study under overwhelming pressure and extremely high academic standards. In short, this movie is, really, our own story."
The film had a social impact on attitudes to education in Asia, including education in India as well as other Asian countries. Chinese universities were "even prescribing the film in their coursework as a kind of stress-relief in their classrooms. The movie has served as a question bank for many local, family, zonal and national quizzes."
Big in Bollywood
When asked about plans of a 3 Idiots sequel in an interview with Hindustan Times, screenwriter Abhijat Joshi replied, saying, "Honestly, I don't know. We have an idea for the 3 Idiots sequel, a Munna Bhai part three, and also for a PK sequel; but the PK and Munna Bhai sequels interest me the most. So, I think the 3 Idiots sequel may happen in the future, but these two I really want to work on."
In January 2016, director Rajkumar Hirani and actor Aamir Khan confirmed that they were considering a 3 Idiots sequel. Khan told reporters, ""Raju Hirani has given me a hint about '3 Idiots' sequel and I am giving you all a hint. The film will happen if and whenever he will write the script." Hirani agreed, saying "this is one film that I really want to do."
In June 2018, Hirani was asked a question while promoting his upcoming film Sanju and he was quoted as saying, "I definitely want to make a sequel to 3 Idiots, but it’s still in the initial stage and we will take a fair amount of time to develop the script".
- List of highest-grossing Bollywood films
- List of Bollywood highest-grossing films in overseas markets
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