Monday, October 4, 2010

My First Hindi Movie: 3 Idiots

Yesterday I finally took it upon myself to watch an entire Hindi movie, which was long overdue. Seeing as how my Hindi vocabulary is somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty words, this first Hindi movie was viewed from the comfort of my own apartment with the help of subtitles rather than the true Indian movie experience of going to the theatre.

Never one to shy away from a movie from the always hilarious college comedy genre, especially one with "idiots" in the title, 3 Idiots seemed like the right first movie for someone with my refined taste. It was "the" movie when we arrived in January. At the time people were shocked that I hadn't seen it before I gently reminded them of the language barrier and that I'd wait for the DVD. Well, I was in a movie shop a couple weeks ago (an actual one, not the pirated one at Super Mart I) and finally saw the film on DVD. It was time.

Like most Hindi you hear spoken here, the characters readily slipped between Hindi and English. While still not enough English to entirely understand what was going on without the trusty subtitles, I gave the movie points for accuracy. With the help of those subtitles, I found myself enjoying the movie. While it wasn't the Indian-Old School that I was expecting based on co-workers descriptions, I must admit it kept me interested. I was surprised that the movie made light of the Indian education system and its reputation for learning for the sake of what will be on the test and memorization rather than learning for the sake of learning. Culturally, it presents a progressive view of Indian culture where people should follow their passions in life rather than what their parents tell them. Again, messages that I agree with, but not what I expected from a comedy. At least not a comedy I was hoping came from the same vein as Old School or Animal House.

There were a couple of Bollywood-style numbers, which seemed to have just been inserted because that's what they do with movies here. It was also longer than expected. It could have easily been wrapped in a 90 minute movie but went one at least an hour longer. It wasn't "too" long, just long, which is (again) kind of what they do with movies here. I think it kept my interest based on the settings. Primarily set in Delhi with some absolutely stunning scenery from Ladakh and Manali. It presented an Indian that I was either familiar with or have plans to become familiar with over the next year.

While I wasn't able to finish it in one sitting (we went to friends' apartment last night to gather for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games), I found myself looking forward to getting home to finish up the final 45 minutes, which, I think is an indication that I actually enjoyed the movie.

Next up in the Hindi film hopper, My Name is Khan, which I've heard described as Shah Rukh Khan's post-9/11 version of Forrest Gump. With a hook like that, how can I not watch?

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