January 7, 2010


I hadn’t read the book, but even before going for the film 3 Idiots, I had heard the movie was based on Five Point Someone. So after seeing the movie, I immediately congratulated Chetan Bhagat on the outstanding philosophy of his book! However, after the controversy, I thought of reading Five Point Someone... and immediately realised the crux of the trouble! The book and the film have about ten to fifteen percent similarity. The book is more of a diary on IIT days without taking a strong stance on anything and without inspiring anyone to think of changing the education system. It has got its locker room humour of friends and is a decent read. But after reading the book, you don’t start thinking of the education system and about how to change it. So, to say that the film 3 Idiots has a lot in common with the book, is totally incorrect...

The Aamir character in the book is a plain rich guy who doesn’t like the education system but does nothing to change it either, completely unlike what Aamir does in the movie. And of course, the character in the book is surely not a gardener’s son, as portrayed in the movie. Neither is he even close to Phunsuk Wangru (the research genius in the movie)... nor does he start a science school... or vanish into oblivion after graduating. The book’s character is not even a topper but one who trudges in last academically. In fact, the book doesn’t even have the quintessential Chatur character, nor does it have even a millimetre of the Javed Jaffrey character. The Principal is not the crazyscientist variety either. And further, the Kareena character in the book actually has an affair with Madhavan; and by the end of the book, they both don’t even get married – they split! Well, that’s how similar the book is to the film. It would be criminal to take away any credit from the extremely talented writers of 3 Idiots and give the story credit to anyone else. Yes, the story surely must’ve been conceptualised around Chetan Bhagat’s book’s characters, but it’s purely a new story.

All I would say is, if you wish to know what is called making a movie out of a book, watch the Clint Eastwood-directed The Bridges of Madison County – you can virtually feel Robert Waller James’ best-selling novel unfold right in front of you, page by page, character by character. Nothing of that sort happens in 3 Idiots. Anyway, that’s not the crux of this article.

On a lighter note, even my mother almost cried after seeing the film. She felt the writers/director must’ve heard me speaking on education during one of my seminars or must have read my articles on the IITs/IIMs and lifted the film idea from there! :-) It took me some time to explain to her that Rajkumar Hirani had made a similar film earlier called Munnabhai... and had there too tried to visualise similar things on the education system. Two concerned people can surely think similarly, can’t they? :-)

Now, coming to the movie, having seen almost every film made anywhere on the education system, I can say that I have not seen a film that has been better made globally! Without getting moralistic, Rajkumar Hirani has mastered the art of making a statement in the most commercial manner, yet retaining a very strong message for all those who care about a message. To me, this film is not about the 3 idiots, it’s a film with a strong message to the many idiots running the education system of this country and to the millions of idiots who accept this system without questioning – in turn ruining the childhood of millions of children and making them handicapped in their abilities for the rest of their lives; not to mention the innumerable lives lost in the form of unfortunate suicides in the process.

It’s time our educators woke up to the fact that the system stinks. Kids spend thirteen years in most schools having no clue about what they are studying and how it’s going to supposedly change their lives. Teachers enter classrooms and teach in the most uninspiring manner without an iota of a passion to change lives or to make education entertaining and interesting. They transform the most interesting subjects into disastrously painful experiences. Parents are no less, ruining the childhood of their kids by trying to live their personal complexes through their children – by labeling it their ‘dream’. And to fulfil these so-called dreams, parents pressurize their children into a crazy race for more marks, a race which has never benefited anyone.

This is what 3 Idiots is about! It’s not a film; it’s education in itself. I should suggest that everyone should go and watch the movie for a second time – and this time to learn, than to get entertained. Because unfortunately, most people I spoke to only got entertained and didn’t learn much. The film by itself, like Raju Hirani’s previous two Munnabhai films, is a parallel system of education for this country’s youth, educators and parents. And that’s why Rajkumar Hirani is the first director ever to feature on The Sunday Indian’s cover!

I don’t want to write more on the education system of this country – I have written too much over the years in our magazines and otherwise too – nor do I want to write what 3 Idiots is all about, for everyone would already have seen it by now. All I want to say is that in the excitement of seeing big boys in their undergarments exclaiming ‘Tohfa Kabul Karo’, one shouldn’t forget the message that the film gives – that engineering colleges are the breeding grounds of some of the most inhumane and perverted ragging in our country, and this needs to be stopped. In the hilarity of the promise that Madhavan makes to marry Sharman’s sister while Sharman is recovering, one must not forget that for every suicide of a young child happening around us – and in the last week we saw quite a few –we all are responsible, with the teachers and the parents. In the fun of seeing Aamir and Kareena kiss, we must not forget that success is not about how much money we make, but about excelling in doing something that we are passionate about. Every line, every scene of 3 Idiots is packed with a message and a lifetime’s education. I hope we don’t miss that. Because then the whole point of making such films will be a waste, despite the movie becoming such a totally deserving monstrous blockbuster!




Tushar said...

m nt too sure abt wot u have written, probably just becoz you fst saw de movie nd then read de book.This creates a big difference in how you perceive things. In fact after seeing the movie, u really cnt njoy FPS, belve me , fr someone who has read fps 3-4 times, can really relate the book to the movie & i certainly beg to differ that it s de best movie on our country's education system, probably bcoz its impractical. take t de fun way!!!

Azad said...

Dear Arindam,
I disagree with you. If you wud have read d book before watching the movie, u wud have realised that the similarity is more than 70%!!
The characters, the plot, the background everything! Just a necessary commercial bollywood touch of hero chasing heroine and some comedy should not take any credi away from Mr. Bhagat. I am no big fan of his books but this is the case of Intellectual theft. He should be properly credited for the story.
I loved the movie...although it was a bit slow and over the top in later parts. But overall was a good watch!

Chetan Gupta said...

I Love u Arindam Sir...!!!

For the first time,i disgree with you on the point that the film was not based on FPS.Actually you have read the book after watching the movie i.e. why you were not able to relate it properly.The film was completely based on FPS.Yes i agree that there were additions & subtractions from what was written in the book.Ofcourse it cannot be made page by page. Once TV was invented than there were uncounted numbers of scientists who too added better features and tried to take the credit of Discovery in their pocket.I am not saying the sucess of 3 Idiots goes only to Chetan Bhagat because it's a joint efforts of many actors,musicians, singer etc etc.But as long as the success of a good story & the concept of 3 Idiots is concerned, it goes to Chetan Bhagat.I am a avid reader & never ever read any novel in my life.FPS was the Ist & only novel i picket years back because it was doing terrific business & then i purchased all the books of CB and enjoyed all reading them and started reading other's novels also.

I love you very much Sir but for the first time i really didn't like the way you wrote so rudely against Chetan Bhagat & i am sorry to say this, that you should not have written like this.

Love u Sir..!!
Chetan Gupta

Tathagata said...

I don’t agree with your realisation about the movie and the book controversy. Had you read the book before watching the movie, your views would have been different. I cannot enumerate how much is taken from the book in percentage terms, but I can give you some basic facts.

Well, my views on the controversy may not be unbiased since I’m having a strong fascination for the book, but, at the end of the day, facts remain facts. The book “Five Point Someone” came in the market in 2005 when I was a student of JNU. IIT Delhi and JNU being neighbours to each other, I found many a similarities between our day to day activities and that of the characters in the novel. After reading the book I along with my peer group saw that the description of hostel life mentioned in the book had many things in common with ours – the ragging, the professors with their boring lectures, sleepless nights before exams, fun with friends, eating at dhaba, boozing well beyond one’s capacity … and so on. The book narrates them without pointing out anything wrong or right. Basically this was the main reason for the book being a super hit among the youths. The crux of the book as you have correctly mentioned is a mere narration of facts. The writer did not take any stance on any particular subject; he left it to the readers.

Coming to the book-film controversy, one can easily see that the basic things remain unchanged in the movie. Three friends meet in a ragging session. One of them is damn rich (Ryan); one of them (Alok) is having a paralysed father, an unmarried sister and a mother who manages everything and a third character (Hari) who does not talk about himself much except having a military father. Their first class starts with the definition of machine. The angry Dean with his hot daughter a medical student is there. His son committed suicide as he couldn’t clear one entrance exam. The hero falls in love with the Dean’s daughter. The cramming before exam, bunking the classes, the hostility between the Dean and the troika, the south Indian guy who mugs up everything to score good grades, the hero’s proposing the heroin in a drunk state, the poor guy’s jumping from a high place… everything are there. There are many other trivial things which I am ignoring since my aim is not to calculate the percentage of adaptation, but to show that the movie is made taking the book as a base.

Chetan Bhagat didn’t emphasise on any particular aspect, he portrayed the life of students in a reputed institution. The script writer has focussed on the message about the education system and got so much applause. But surely the idea was not unique. The suicide of the son of the Dean, Alok’s devotion to god just to get well established in life and later his attempt to suicide, cramming and mugging up before exam, unfair competition to become first in the rat race… everything are there in the book and together point at the failure of the education system. The script writer had included some characters and a few incidents for recreation. The most important thing is that the hero and heroin get married at the end; otherwise the film would be a flop.

It is not so difficult to pick up a famous novel, add some characters and incidents, change the ending and twist the story a little bit to convey the implicit message. The script writer has just done that. He has not written a sole new story. Hence, I cannot agree with your statement, “Yes, the story surely must’ve been conceptualised around Chetan Bhagat’s book’s characters, but it’s purely a new story”.

Jon said...

I completely agree with Tushaar. The movie is about the flawed educational set up. But doesnt give much positive influence on the system just like Lage Raho did.
Its just a fun ride based on a relevant social issue. And you will forget that as soon as you are out of the theatre.

As for FPS ... who cares!!

Prabhat said...

Dear Arindam, you are a DIAMOND personality and GOOD WRITTER so you can not write anything which is not reasonable & false. Amir has produced a heart toching & excellent movie; he should be appreciated for this. THANKS ARINDAM FOR THIS ARTICLE. ( www.twitter.com/prabhatmisra )

prachi said...

Agree with you Sir. I have read CB's one night and realized his attempts to become indian paulo coelho. This is a masterpiece by the director and whole production team. just to boost the sales of the book, it was immoral on his ground. but then he too is one of the ppl who spent years to be engr. to get an admit card for MBA so as to become a banker, so possibly can never gave the message that Amir and Hirani gave. Great article Sir.

amrendra said...

Dear Sir,
I am a grt fan of urs and ur team member,i follow all ur editions of TSI and B&E.
as far as about this blog i totally agree with u that the movie is certainly notbased on FPS,coz i hav read the book before watching the movie,yeah part of movie relate FPS,bt we cannot take the credit away from rajkumar hirani who has show how our education system work where we symplly mug up the things and then deliver in the xam hall which is of no use to practical life.
I hav learnt a lot from this movie and i also believe in doing sth with perfection which our heart desire.

Vishal Salgotra said...

3Is Team saw an opportunity 3 years back to make a movie out of Book by Mr Chetan Bhagat. Signed a contract with him and took the rights. All this while whenever 3Is was discussed, 5PS was discussed as well.So the credit was always there. Now after a fantastic product that hit the market Mr Bhagat saw an opportunity and thought of taking 'absolute credit'?? What about 3I team which worked hard to produce such a fascinating product??
In Cricket, when bowler (Chetan Bhagat) delivers a full toss (story) batsman (3Is team)still need to dispatch it out of the ground to call it a boundary (movie). So who should get the credit??
We all knew where the film was coming from but Mr Bhagat completely lost the plot by claiming 'absolute credit' and the ground for more credit.

kumar.raj said...

There are always the differences when making movie from the book because you are already having a base and You can manipulate that.
Here are the some points of similarities between 3idiots and 5 point someone.
1) 3 friends, join the engineering college
2) Raju, the role played by Sharman Joshi – similar to that to book – Dad suffering from paralysis and mom a teacher
3) Rancho (played by Aamir Khan) – similarly creative as the Ryan character in the book.
4) MACHINE – and the definition, explanation.. similar to that in the book
5) Neha (the girl in the book, daughter of a professor) and Pia (Kareena’s role, daughter of dean of the college) are the same kinds.
6) The girl helps the hero in stealing the question papers, by giving them the keys of the room
7) The professor talks against their friendship most of the times.. similar to that in the movie
8) Suicide attempt by a student in the college, done by Raju in the movie

pulkitkh said...

Wow sir, one of the most rational and meaningful writing on the controversy rather the chachophony over the story credit. Its sad that the country of idiots that we are still does not get the message.Also is nt in a paradox while Hirani is riding excellence chetan bh is still hankering for success aka story credit... loved every bit of this one, regards.

AnVij said...

India is a democracy and anyone can say anything here. Some books can be made to movies exactly the way it is. Godfather is a good example. Some, on the other hand has to be adapted. Aamir character is very similar to Ryan's character in the book. One should be dumb not to have noticed that.

There are so many similarities between the book and the movies and they have been very effeciently overlooked in your blog. I am not surprised as your instituion IIPM is a very good example of you overlook all the expert's view and present your claiming to be better than IIMs.

Thats the most funniest ad i have ever seen.I wonder if people who give wrong statistics about their instituions in full page ads, have any right to speak about education reform.

But then as i said, India is a democracy and anybody can speak anything.

Technology Journal said...


Sure the current system or old education is not a waste as it created a parallel system of education.

Sure ICT can make a big impact on students.

Also all the onus need not be put on the system and students can take initiative and get the best from the best places and use education institution as certification milieus.

The best institutions are already putting their courseware for public to peruse, others of repute could silmilarly share the best over the net and make education a free and catholic resource.

daniel khan said...

Hello Arindam sir,

I really don't agree to this as i have read FPS long long ago n then saw the movie...
though the 3 idiots tried to show us how to changed the education system but they didn't do it...
in the movie they were just to blamed the system till they were in the college but as soon as they leave,they get busy in their own lives.
if it is not the adaption then how come there will be so many similarities....Is this a luck or just a coincidence??
There is no harm in giving a credit to a person from whose book you have taken the characters and themes and the scenes but showed them in a new generated way!

DHANU said...

i have been working on education system to make it most creative and modern in true sense. although it takes another 10 years to come up with it completely n 5 years from then to elevate its success or failure.

i read the book many times n already saw the movie 3 times. what i can say is that IT IS THE SAME CAR WITH MORE EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE PERSON TO DRIVE. to calculate a story in percentage is stupid
the book and the movie are both extra ordinary in there own way.the director used the facts highlighted in the book to give his message packed with humor.

shwetanshu said...

Dear Sir,
I blindly agree with you, over this school of thought of yours.......AICTE is stinking with corrupt babus.The way they inspect any colege is actually horrendous..You just give them the money and be rest assured that your student intake capacity will increase manifolds...I am saying this because ,ihave seen such inspections with my naked eye.....As always,it is again a breath taking article from you....

pritha said...

The basic premise of the film is certainly taken from the book even though there are deviations.Modifying some features of an invention doesnt take the credit away from the original inventor.In this case also Chetan Bhagat should be given due credit since it was his basic idea in the first place.Surely this shouldnt have skipped your mind.However with your penchant for always deviating from the general view-to grab eyeballs,this was not entirely unexpected.You sure know how to make people read your articles!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PARAM said...

Dear sir,
i completely agree with you,it's entirely new story with an innovative idea which was not seen within the book.We can't say that the movie is similar to five point someone,we can say it is just a little bit inspired from the book.writers of 3 idiots did tremendous work on modifying the story in such a way that it became a really inspirable,motivational guide to everyone,we can say writers worked on the weak parts of the five point some one as according to the book Amir's character is of a rich son,he can go against the educational syestem because if something goes wrong in future it will not affect him so much,but in the movie as amir's role as chote is of gardner's son,he is not rich but still he goes against existing educational syestem and changed it on his own power......

Minanath Dhaske said...

The real crux of the controversy is ... http://caricaturehome.blogspot.com/2010/01/aal-izz-well.html

jijo said...

3 idiots is a best film. This film gives new method to our education.We r a idiots and we didn't know about ar self . this film is related to those student who r a book worms. who take always book knowledge.
thank you

sudhir said...

Dear Arindham Sir,
I am a great fan of yours.
Sorry for disagreeing with your post, but this is what I feel.
I think that raising the issue of the glitches of the education system, as it was talked about in the book, automatically forces any reader to think about it. So it is just an extrapolation that has been done in the movie. I think this is the purpose why a movie is to be made or are made. This is what for cinema is. So it is just a one sided statement to praise one and condemn the other (writer CB).
Another point I would like to make is, there needs only a hint of message in a book because you know there is a class of educated people who are going to read that book. For cinema you have to be loud and clear and have to reiterate the same message multiple times in the movie. This is why the message of the faulty education system was more apparent in the movie that the book.
It is not the issues like whether Amir was the son of a gardener or not, whether the principal was crazy scientist or not and all the other examples quoted by you. I think all the examples are intentionally quoted only to undermine the book’s story. Because any director or script writer for that matter, will definitely build some or the other story to make it look more entertaining. This is what commercial cinema is. So I don’t think it is a new story. To best I will say it is a story adapted brilliantly and with a message.
Yes, I do agree strongly with your appreciation of Raj Kumar Hirani. He is a superb director, without an iota of doubt about it.
For the last three passages of your post. I agree with each word of yours.
For the last passage , hats off to you Sir. One that is awesome about you is how critically you evaluate things. The comparison of the ‘Tofa kabul’ and amir-kareena kiss was exceptionally portrayed

Artemis said...

I agree Sir that 3 Idiots has no connection with Five point some one.The book appears like a skeleton,in comparision to the film.It had no plot whatsoever....

Swindger said...

Innovation is not creating a thing from scratch ...u just add some of your masala to the already existing thing..this is what done by Raju Hirani and his team...they based their theme on the novel but the main core of the movie is something other than fun and entertainment its all about a message ...a message about the education system .. which is training students not educating them.. having knowledge is different thing from wisdom.. this is main core of the movie as seen by me.. ya i even agree that the movie has a lot from the novel FPS .. the credit Based on the Novel would suffice that ..

akhil said...

Dear Arindam
I agree with your view that the movie spreads a vital social message in the most successful commercial way, but one thing Phunsuk Wangdoo and the movie missed was - the failure, what if? The Rancho would have failed an examination?(Einstein do failed history lessons), and what if Mr Raju Rastogi hadn,t met the minimum criterion for placements and all, The film never showed how to deal with failures - Patience as is needed in such circcumstances does not find a resonance in the script, In fact the movie was a brilliantly crafted Hindi cinema about the fact "Hero always Wins in cinema" and in 3 ediots , He wins throughout the plot and to the critical and Box office success !!

waseem said...


prashant said...

To me 'Rocket Singh-Salesman of the Year', is a better movie than 3idiots.

And another doubt, would 3 Idiots be thought of, if ,5Pointsome',was not written.

jatin mehta said...

dear arindham,
its very unfortunate to see that the youths who have read the book 3-4 times,before watching the movie,are still analysing a similarity of 60 or 70 n even more
in between the book and the movie.even i read the book more than 5 times n then watch the movie twice(once for the entertainment n then again to check the whole damn dispute),i dont find more than 20 percent similarity.even i am a very big fan of chetan but that does not change the reality.
thanks to the whole blog readers for reading my statement.

Shrinidhi said...

I disagree here with Arindam and totally agree with Tatagath.
According to me this movie is a mix of Chetan Bhagat's 5 point someone and Munnabhai storyline, in which you have a dean to whom the hero has to defeat. Please don't demean the original inventor just because other people have added some masala to it.

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