3 Idiots [2009]: Find the Idiot In You!


It’s the holidays and I’ve been digging up and watching old movies hidden in my hard disk drive. I’ve had this particular movie for quite a while now; I think it’s been 3 years ago since I copied it from my friend’s computer. Now, I don’t watch that many Hindi films; they’re not my thing. But, this film, 3 Idiots, is one film I can watch repeatedly without getting bored. Heck, I’ve watched it over ten times over the past 3 years and still I’m not bored!

The story of 3 Idiots is about three men: Farhan, Raju, and Rancho. They’re enrolled in the Imperial College of Engineering in India and hope to pursue a career in engineering. This college is a strict one. We have the Rector, Viru Sastrabuddhi (a.k.a VIRUS), who is an overly competitive son-of-a-bitch. He’s like a machine; he can write with two hands simultaneously, his commitment to order his life resembles that of Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory), and he’s a dick.

The three unlikely friends share different backgrounds. Farhan, from his birth, was decreed to become an engineer by his father who looks a lot like Hitler. Raju, the overly religious guy, wants to be an engineer to help his family’s financial situation. And our main star, Rancho, is an engineering freak who attends college just for the fun of it.

In a nutshell, this film is a story of how three friends manage to go through engineering college hell and find that success is not always determined by your scores on the test. Now, a quick elaboration of what I enjoyed and didn’t from this film.

What I Enjoyed

I keep this film with me because of its values. I’ve always had a passion for teaching and I hope one day to become a professor in International Relations.

I like how this film shows the education system as just one big assembly line aimed at creating a bunch of people who know stuff, but don’t dare ask why they do what they do. It relates to me because ever since high school, I’ve always felt that students are just raw materials forced to accept what our supervisors (teachers) want us to know so that we could pass quality control (exams) and then be distributed to whoever needs us in society (consumers). One scene which represents this was when Rancho challenged the professor during a lecture on machines and when Rancho confronted the Rector after Joy Lobo’s suicide. For me, the film really captures the grim essence of today’s education, especially in Asian countries.

I also enjoyed the character of Rancho. He’s an inspiration because he shows that when you have a passion for something, you can take that passion and enjoy yourself to limits unimaginable. He’s also a rebel in a good way. The way he confronted the Rector countless times just to protest against his system is just awesome. He understands that education should be about knowledge, not just getting top scores. He’s one of those rare people who go to college just to learn, not just get a degree.

There’s a lot of other things I enjoyed too, here’s just a small list:

1. If you live the lives of others, you shall never know true happiness. Rancho took up Engineering because he loved machines. Farhan, on the other hand, took up Engineering because his father told him to. Rancho was happy to be in school, while Farhan was miserable. Near the end, Farhan finally found his calling, wildlife photography, and he couldn’t be a happier person.

2. Success is not measured by how expensive your car, house, and clothes are. Chathur, the main dick in the story next to VIRUS, is one of those people who think they’re successful because they make a lot of money. But, in the end, Rancho kicked his ass. No spoilers here!

3. Life is not a race. The VIRUS lives by his code that life is a race. You need to struggle to stay in the front and use any means to maintain your position. As the Rector, he takes the sentence “Life is a race” to the maximum extreme. Rancho points out numerous times during the film that life doesn’t need to be a race. Everyone has their own pace.

4. College is about learning, not just getting grades. Those who go to college often do it just for a piece of paper certifying that they are quality material for work. Rancho takes that logic and throws out the friggin’ window. He’s a true student; thirsty for knowledge, always wanting to improve for the sake of his own views. He gives a rat’s ass about his test scores and really enjoys the thrill of learning.

5. You don’t need money to go to school. Just steal a uniform and blend in. This is a funny yet deep piece of advice from Rancho.

6. Knowledge, when applied, achieves great results. This is perhaps the most important message the film tries to tell us. During the hazing period, Rancho was confronted by a senior. He took refuge in his room but the senior was banging on his door and threatening to pee on it. Rancho then takes a spoon and wires it to the main electricity circuit and puts it under the door. The result? Pee-nis electrocution! We all know that salt water is a great conductor. Rancho’s ingenuity saved him from the hazing and earned him respect. Knowing is different from understanding.

7. AAL IZZ WELL! The ultimate mantra of the film. It’s very powerful. You can strengthen your resolve with it. You can make yourself calm. You can even make a newborn baby cry with it! It’s the most powerful mantra in the world!

There’s a lot more, but I’m afraid the list will get too long.

What Sucked

Though there are good parts, there are also not so good parts. First, the film runs for 3 friggin’ hours! That’s 1 and a half episode of Star Wars! And then, since this is a Hindi movie, expect a lot of singing and dancing. I’m not a fan of a whole bathroom breaking into song and dance when they’re defecating. That’s why I don’t watch Bollywood.


A must-watch film for those who feel that college is taking its toll on them. Provides inspiration and can be refreshing too. Just prepare lots of snacks and drinks because it’s a long sit.


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