Disclaimer: This is rehashed from an article I wrote in January 2016 for GineersNow. Some parts are added or edited for clarity.
You may have seen this movie more than once, maybe even more than a dozen. This movie, released in 2009, made rounds among young engineers and sparked our hearts and minds to become successful engineers later on.
I am talking about the movie 3 Idiots, and it has got to be your favorite movie starring engineers. Why do I say so? Because the movie exemplifies these powerful dilemmas and situations that every engineer has faced at one point in his or her engineering life:
Academic struggles of engineers and the coping mechanisms
Rancho, the loose one among the idiots, is also the most gifted. He aces his exams despite his easy-going attitude. Well, that’s because he is focused on learning, and not being under pressure. He tried so hard to change the system of their school being a ‘pressure cooker’ instead of being a learning institution.
Rancho’s buddies, Farhan and Raju, struggled in passing their exams because they had their own problems. Farhan didn’t like engineering but his parents forced him into it; Raju was poor and it was hindering him and his family while studying.
Then there’s Chatur, or Silencer, the bookworm showoff who is all into memorization. He tries so hard to impress others by memorizing his way into it. That works, somehow, but that’s inefficient later on.
There were some minor characters shown that they had to do chants, pray excessively and offer money and goods to gods so they could pass their exams. Admit it: we were once like them.
However, there are just some others who aren’t strong enough to face the harsh realities. There was Joy, who took his own life by hanging because Viru, the school’s superior, didn’t give him a chance to present his late project. Tsk.
Overreaching expectations that needed to be met
Farhan had parents who want him to become an engineer. But he felt forced to take the course; instead he wanted to pursue photography, especially the wildlife as evident from his collection of pictures. But later at the ending, his parents granted him to do what he wants, which turned out well.
There’s also that scene upon where all the newbies gathered, and Viru talked in front of them then flashed all the forms of the university rejects. It posed expectations to the chosen ones that they should consider themselves lucky that they are studying in the university. It is a bad kind of mind conditioning to be able to survive.
Value of mutual bonding among friends and family relationships
Let us not discount that fact that the ‘3 idiots’ didn’t leave each other despite their differences, instead they valued the differences more. They were able to share bits of themselves for others to learn, especially Rancho to Farhan and Raju. And that kind of relationship lasted to the point they will have to sacrifice a lot of things for a most-awaited reunion.
Some romance for inspiration
It cannot be removed from the equation once it is already there: a little love life to inspire you from studying and to add color to your life. That was Pia in Rancho’s life. They had a blunt relationship with each other but later become love birds.
Dedication and passion in what we really want to do
This is perhaps the most valuable lesson one can get, even not an engineer, from watching this movie. Rancho, telling the confused Farhan on his career choice, that you have to follow your dream – you do not have to study something you know you are bad at and just follow your passion. He underlined this: make your passion your profession. That should apply to all of us. Yoo not have to get stuck in a field of profession you do not wholeheartedly love.
Rancho also emphasized to his friends to ‘pursue excellence, and success will follow, pants down,’ although it didn’t have to be literal. He just wants you to realize that you should give your all in everything that you do. Even when you stumble or put down, just be calm because everything will be fine. In the words of Rancho: all izz well!
Most of you may not understand the native language used by the characters (thanks, subtitles), but surely the movie has, in one way or another, influenced your perspective in life right after you watched it. You start to imagine your life to have learned all the perfect elements from the movie, minus the fancy dance numbers.