Monday, January 04, 2010

3 Idiots saga reveals the big bad Bollywood

The media war between Chetan Bhagat and the makers of 3 Idiots exposes the irreverent attitude Indian filmmakers show towards scripts and writers. It is a revelation to see the much admired Rajkumar Hirani dismiss Chetan Bhagat's claims. It only shows the dog-eat-dog kind of world Hindi filmdom has become. Am I now wrong in wondering how much 'original' was Munnabhai series as Hirani's work!

To be fair, the filmmakers claim that they financially settled the deal with Chetan Bhagat before the release. They claim there is a binding contract which didn't promise Chetan any 'credit'. So they claim Chetan is now engineering a needless controversy - an effort to get some publicity, according to Aamir khan. This is a fair argument if indeed there was a contract which Chetan Bhagat could have been careless in negotiating the terms. However, it is Hirani, Chopra and Aamir's claims that set the cat among the pigeons. Hirani claims the movie is 5% inspired from the book. This is 100% blasphemy. Aamir says Chetan just wants publicity (even as he admits he didn't read the Novel!). Is it Chetan who goes around masquerading in Varanasi or Mahabalipuram to catch eyeballs. For all the image-building he did to project himself as an intelligent and social activist kind, he should shown an iota of it in this case. Hindi movies can survive without Aamir Khan, Indian English writing does not even exist without Chetan Bhagat! It is not the Vikram Seths or Arundhati Roys who sell millions of books, even with their bookers. He is the one who bought the reading habit to the many towns in India from the elite cocoons of the metros. With their outbursts, these three indeed ended up the 3 idiots. Once the 'original' writer Abhijat Joshi opens his mouth, he will become the fourth. Not that they will mind though, with the windfall at the box office.

It will at best matter for only those who have read the book and have seen the movie - a fleeting view here. For anyone who haven't read 'Five Point Someone', here is the gist of these whole hullabaloo. The book has been adapted 100% in soul and spirit and 90% in character design. The only differences that came in the movie are to aid the narration, in flashbacks. Here are they.

1) We have 2 friends going in search of the Aamir's character. This allows the narration (the narrator is the same in book and movie) in flashbacks.

2) To add a 'twist' to the story and to elevate Aamir's character to show it as a triumph of an underdog, 2 changes are done.
One - the 10 year concept and Chatur's character has been expanded from Venkat's character in the book. to accentuate the drama before the 10 year challenge, the uproarious stage scene was designed to humiliate Chatur. In the climax, Chatur and his mugging education is supposed to lose in Bollywood style to Rancho's education. So, the 2 friends literally drag Chatur to Rancho to set up the final 'twist' about fake Rancho and real Wangdu.

Two- Rancho being the hero in a Bollywood movie, need to have the girl. So, the professor's daughter who is the girlfriend of Madhavan's character is bartered to Rancho. Her character remains same as in the book, complete with the suicide letter. Madhavan's character is in turn bartered the 'i wanted to be wildlife photographer' background from Sharman Joshi's character in the book. Its just that Joshi's character in the book has a 'i wanted to be painter' background! Now that she is the hero's girl, she is handed her 'runaway bride' sub-plot.

In essence, these are the changes made to suit movie format and also sort of elevate 'hero' Rancho's character. The main characters in the novel and the movie remain same. The soul of the novel remains intact and in fact are its most interesting dialogues! So much for the 'original' writing of Abhijat Joshi. All the changes done are to add gloss and does not alter or add anything of substance. While the filmmakers did a good job at converting the novel for the format, that does not mean they can deny an 'adapted from' credit to Bhagat's novel and claim this is a 5% inspiration. Its like he dressing up the neighbour's newborn and claiming it to be his! It is this lack of regard to writing in Indian film industry that churns out hopeless stuff year after year. Hope things would start changing in the new year. Till then, my sympathies to Chetan Bhagat. Maybe, he will now pen a semi-autobiographical about his tryst with Bollywood!


vinod said...


i had read the book and i like the movie than the book...

because the movie contain only few scenes of the book.. and the book is not a message oriented where as the movie is completely message oriented....

realyy nice work by 3 idiots crew

jayakrishna.reddy said...

Hi Ra amar ,

I feel this should be a learning for indian directors who never care for the telent who actually give them the strength for their screen plays .

I hope chetan should strip these idiots to reveal their original jackel attitudes to public going by law and writing a novel as you pointed .