out of Five
Running time: 173
Enjoyable, if overlong, musical comedy-drama with likeable characters, a decent script and a terrifically charming central performance from Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan.
What's it all about?
Directed by Rajkumar Hirani, 3 Idiots stars R. Madhavan and Sharman Joshi as Farhan and Raju, two best friends who are summoned by an old college classmate (Rajeev Ravindranathan) for the result of a bet made ten years previously. However, the subject of the bet is their long-lost college classmate Rancho (Aamir Khan) and when he fails to show up, the three men decide to go looking for him.
Along the way, they flash back to their college days and recall the impact that free-thinking, fair-minded Rancho had on each of their lives, as well as his relationship with the spirited Pia (Kareena Kapoor) and his frequent clashes with her father, college professor Viru (Boman Irani). However, when the mystery surrounding Rancho suddenly deepens, they begin to wonder if they ever truly knew their friend at all.
Aamir Khan is thoroughly charming as Rancho, exuding a boyish likeability that is extremely infectious. There's also strong support from his fellow idiots Madhavan and Joshi, while Kareena Kapoor delivers a lively, engaging performance as Pia and Boman Irani walks an intriguing tightrope between pantomime villain, comic caricature and blustering buffoon as Rancho's sworn enemy, Viru.
The script is nicely structured with the flashbacks divided into several individually entertaining episodes; the developing mystery is good too, though you'll see the twist ending coming a mile away. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the film, however, is the subtle make-up, because all three leads genuinely seem to have aged ten years between the flashbacks and the modern day sequences (40-year-old Khan is weirdly convincing as a twenty-something student).
That's not to say the film is entirely without flaws. For one thing, it's a good hour or so too long, whilst the distinctly unmemorable musical numbers add nothing to the plot and could have been dropped altogether. Similarly, there are distracting mistakes, such as the fact that the flashback sequences are set ten years in the past, yet all the characters have modern day mobile phones.
Flaws aside, 3 Idiots is an entertaining comedy-drama that's worth seeing for a thoroughly charming central performance by Aamir Khan.