Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Oh, what a Happy New Year!

Should I voice my contrarian opinion that "Five Point Someone" is an extremely over-rated book and that Chetan Bhagat is possibly the most over-hyped undeserving author of all time? And can I claim in the same breath that I found "Taarey Zameen Par" to be a tad too preachy for my liking (I loved the first half of the movie before the character of Aamir "Know-it-all" Khan, the finger wagging art teacher appeared)? There! Nothing to be done. I've already said it! Then I must also tell you that 2010 is going to be an awesome year for me because the storm raging over the "3 Idiots" has me thrilled and clapping with glee, making me start the New Year with a mile wide smile.

Taking up the case of FPS and its author first. My family is a family of book lovers, all of whom have read innumerably more books (and good books at that) than me. Unfortunately for me and to my utter dismay, they are all fans and supporters of Chetan Bhagat. So within my own household, I am outnumbered 4:1 but still I hold fast to my point of view. I think that the book reeks of a 9 point something fellow trying desperately to imagine what the life of a five pointer might be & therefore someone who fails miserably in his attempt. Sure, we want to listen to an IIT+IIM graduate drone on about breaking away from the "beaten path" and fighting the system. He may have made truckloads of moolah as an investment banker for 10 years, but we'd just ignore the irony of the situation and the hypocrisy of his advice. Yeah, right!

An engineering college that is chock-a-block with entertaining characters and the madness of hostel life is so woefully represented in FPS that it really made me feel like crying or more likely chuck the book down one of those early morning hostel toilets with a non functional flush. It's really sad that a setting that had the potential to be so tremendously funny and energetic turned out to be a drab, slow, pedestrian account of 3 uninteresting characters and their trying-too-desperately-to-be-interesting (Read sex, drugs and rooftop rock-n-roll) lives. In the country of R.K. Narayan and Ruskin Bond, it's a true shame that Bhagat is the "best selling" English author. Not only does he murder the promise in such an extraordinary story, at the same time he also manages to gain a cult following among his "readers" who are also quite aggressive in their defense of him. I have been at the receiving end of many such "offence is the best form of defense" attacks to the tune of "You are such a phoney criticizing something just because it is popular", "Pseudo-intellectual" and such like. All I wanted was just a bearable set of characters/plot/style of writing, none of which came through in FPS for me.

Another tragic piece of news that drove a skewer through my heart was when I heard that Rajkumar Hirani of "Lagey Raho Munnabhai" fame was making a movie with Aamir on... horror of horrors, FPS. Aamir Khan is still my favourite actor in Bollywood by miles, even though TZP's in-my-face second half morality lessons have significantly reduced my appreciation of his work. But the real horror was that the script writer of the fundamentally super (Over the top - Yes, too melodramatic - Yes, loaded with social messages - Yes, still amazing - Yes) Munnabhai movies saw something of interest in that sorry sapper of a novel and wanted to make his third movie out of it! Until 2010 showed up and with it, the sometimes a bit too coarse debate over credits for the movie. It's rather mean to take pleasure at someone else's plight, but that's so me once in a while.

I haven't seen the movie yet I was overjoyed to see Mr. Hirani vehemently fight it out with the media over the changes he had to make to the script to turn the novel into a watchable film. Maybe the film is still heavily based on the book and if so, Bhagat's name definitely should up at the beginning of the movie rather than stuffed away at the end. But what fills my soul with gladness is that the need to make these changes was felt, to veer away from something which was paltrily ordinary to create what the reviews of the film seem to indicate, something truly extraordinary. "3 Idiots" here I come. No matter how the movie actually turns out to be, thanks for giving my 2010 such a great start. There is after all justice in this world and the hands of fate juggle us all. Being at the right place at the right time might get you up to where you do not deserve to be, but it won't keep you there!