3 Idiots has turned out to be one of those rare films which has not just seen immense critical acclaim coupled with box office success but also an all around respect from the audience. Getting each of the three factors (great reviews, splendid word of mouth and moolah) is a deadly combination and 3 Idiots has managed it just about perfectly. One didn't expect anything lesser from Raj Kumar Hirani and he has done the impossible by not just meeting but exceeding sky high expectations that one had from 3 Idiots. The film, apart from gaining a cult status for itself, is being hailed as a modern day classic. No wonder, Rajkumar Hirani is ecstatic with the response that the film is fetching.
"We have achieved what we wanted to with 3 Idiots", says Hirani who has further cemented his place as one of the top filmmakers in the current decade with three back to back 'entertainers with a message', "There was a certain objective that we had in mind when 3 Idiots was conceptualised. We wanted to meet it by making the film in a way that we had envisioned. Success ki baat ek taraf hoti hai lekin hum ek achchi film banaana chahte hai and that has been accomplished."
However, traditionally Hirani hasn't been always extremely positive or forthcoming about the future of his films. Whether it was Munnabhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munnabhai and now 3 Idiots, there always has been an element of doubt that has surrounded him once the film is ready, sealed and up for release.
"This has always been the case with me", laughs Hirani, "Whenever I finish a film, I feel that this is the worst film that I have made. This is bound to happen because while writing, directing and editing a film, I would have lived it 5000 times. Naturally, one tends to loose objectivity."
Going back in the past, he narrates an incident when he wasn't too sure about retaining a crucial scene in Lage Raho Munnabhai. "I remember that there was this emotional scene featuring Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi. It looked good in writing but after shooting it, when I saw it at the editing table, I felt it was way too melodramatic. You know all these tears and hugging each other etc. I was like 'nikalo iss scene ko, log hasenge'. But then my team asked me to see it as a part of the audience and then take a call", he recollects.
Rajkumar Hirani As was the case, this turned out to be one of the highlight scenes of the film. "I listened to my team and retained the scene. Thankfully. So you know, as a filmmaker you have to get it all right in the writing stage. After that, one has to leave it on the judgement of your trusted ones and the audiences". Given the kind of judgement which is being passed in case of 3 Idiots, he must have gone through the same process for this film as well, right?
"Yes, I did show the film to those people whose opinion matters", Hirani nods in agreement, "Honestly, their reaction was quite positive. It was reassuring enough." Very recently Madhavan, one of the 3 Idiots, commented that he had heard 'legendary' tales about him before he signed the film? Given the fact that he has directed only three films so far, doesn't it become a tad too unnerving when people around him start hailing him as a 'legend'?
Laughs Hirani, "Did he really say that? Well, I don't know if he really meant that? See, the fact is that I don't take such things really seriously. I am not really worried about how others perceive me. My focus is on my work and I am not really in a rush of any kind." Well, given the kind of response that the film is fetching, audiences for sure were pretty much in a rush to catch what did Hirani have in the offing. He must have been expecting such rush though, isn't it?
"I will share with you an anecdote", Hirani begins to narrate a tale, "You know when Lage Raho Munnabhai was being made, some people thought that I was merely trying to cash on the success of 'Munnabhai'. They were wondering that how could we tell a story that had a character like Munna getting in touch with none other than Gandhiji? Gandhi ke saath Munna - yeh kya combination hua? In fact there were also whispers that 12 baje ke show mein toh log aa jaayenge because of Munnabhai factor but 3 baje kaun aayega? Did I used to get hurt with such statements? Of course yes, but I went on to do my work. It's the same principle I followed in 3 Idiots as well. As I said earlier, the point was that if the thought process and execution is right, success would anyways follow."
One has to agree with Hirani. After all he applied the very same principle as a running thread in 3 Idiots as well. Remember the dialogue - 'Excellence ke peeche bhaago, success jhak maar kar apne aap peeche bhaagegi!'