Chase Excellence Success Will Follow
It had all the elements to make it a blockbuster- art for the masses. And in the midst of all the razzmatazz it had a message unlike many blockbusters. Rajkumar Hirani's loose adaptation of Chetan Bhagat's “Five Point Someone” is a wake up call to appreciate the essence of education thus making it a classic blockbuster- art for the classes. The all-time Bollywood commercial success 3 Idiots is destined to become a rare blockbuster- art for the masses and the classes. That could only have been possible because of the genius of Aamir Khan who celebrates his 45th Birthday 14th March. The central theme of 3 Idiots is to appreciate the true essence of education. Output is a function of the quantity and quality of inputs that are used in the production process. Output in educational institutes are the students themselves, but the inputs that determine the quantity and quality of the output are the decision making and behaviour of the students, the teachers and the parents- all three together.
Educational success and achievement is measured in the job market. Maybe for this reason, parents impose on their children a career of their own liking that may not necessarily be a career of the child's liking. 3 Idiots starts off with this very notion. The moment Farhan (Ranganathan Madhavan) was born, he was destined to become an Engineer whereas his passion lied in photography. Job markets also pressurise students to perform beyond their capabilities. Unless students can show good grades they will not be able to get the coveted job they want. At times this pressure taking is justified when we see students like Raju (Sharman Joshi) who have to enter the job market to take care of their family.
The message of the 3 Idiots is exhibited through Rancho (Aamir Khan), Chatur (Omi Vaidya) and Virus, Viru Sahastrabudhhe (Boman Irani). Both Rancho and Chatur are good students. Both memorise 'definitions'. What differentiates them is what differentiates other Bollywood movies from Aamir Khan movies. Chatur memories information, but he does not know how to process the information he takes in or interpret it in a different way other than what is written in the texts.
Education institutes apply pressure to bring the best out of the students. Virus is the personification of this philosophy. Obtaining good grades is certainly necessary, but good grades are not everything in life. Life is bigger. Life is a gift to be enjoyed. To get good grades students pressurise themselves. The education institutes are right when they assume pressure makes coal diamond. What education institutes can fail to perceive is- too much pressure makes the same coal dust. Not being able to handle the pressure of meeting a deadline, poor Joy (Ali Fazal) takes his life.
It is true that education institutes 'manufacture' products to cater for job markets. It is also true that the same education institutes also create minds that re-define our environment and broaden our horizons. Ranchos and Chaturs are created from the same institute. It is here that the Rancho character points numerous arrows to all the other three inputs in the education production function- the students, the teachers and the parents- in essence the entire system.
If there is no fun in learning, education becomes a mechanical act only. It serves merely as a ticket to another destination in life. It is here that the teachers become the most influential input in the education production function. Unless and until educational institutes manage to appreciate the slogan of 3 Idiots- “chase excellence, success will follow”, they will carry on producing Chaturs- the group that knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing; and gaze at the heavens for the Ranchos who will grace the education institute once in a blue moon.3 Idiots is a must view for everybody related to the education sector. Until a day does come that Ranchos flood our educational institutes and change the way we all perceive education the way it should be, let us chant the magic verse- “Aal Izz Well”. Happy Birthday Aamir!
(The Writer teaches Economics at Jahangirnagar and North South universities.)