April 30, 2017

Slice of PIE: Is the Bollywood Movie, 3 IDIOTS, Reality, Science Fiction, or Fantasy?

NOT using the panel discussions of the most recent World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City in August 2016 (to which I was invited and had a friend pay my membership! [Thanks, Paul!] but was unable to go (until I retire from education)), I will jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Program Guide.

But not today.

My daughter-in-law’s favorite movie, 3 Idiots (2009) has “all the elements that make a Bollywood film so great to watch: a heavy dose of comedy, complex father-son relationships and class-defying friendships. It even boasts a runaway bride — a plot line that somehow never gets tired…one of Bollywood's highest-grossing films of all time.”

My wife and I watched it again last night and I started to wonder exactly WHAT it is.

It might be realistic – though the drone the main character (Rancho) repairs then uses was on the cusp of emerging quadcopter drone technology and Rancho’s other inventions push the bounds of realism to a near-parody level – but that seems to beg the question. Many of the other inventions in the movie – the bicycle-powered flour mill and the sheep shearing scissors – actually come from Indian inventors, though if they never appeared in the movie, it wouldn’t have mattered.

It might very well be science fiction. Without the drone, the inverter, the suction cup, and the “the spoon that shocks urine expellers” (At first I read that peeing on an electrified spoon and getting shocked was IMPOSSIBLE. But according to this, http://www.livescience.com/38024-electrocute-by-peeing-urine-electricity.html, it’s only highly unlikely.); the movie would be impossible – it’s technology that saves the day and makes the villain, Chatur, into a fool at the end of everything. It could be said that this is science fiction at its finest – exploring the impact of technology on not only individuals but on society.

It might also be fantasy. The stereotypical Bollywood musical scenes – in particular Rancho and Pia imagining life together in “Zoobi Doobi” – is far beyond reality or science fiction. There are also the effectiveness of repeating “Aal izz well” causing both an unborn and later a stillborn infant to kick…although research suggests that babies can and do learn and react to certain sounds and repetitive phrases (http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2013/08/babies-learn-recognize-words-womb), this pushes that discovery to fantastic limits.

Besides being a great movie, it seems to me that 3 Idiots is a mixture of reality (they say it explores issues: “a vital, inspiring and life-revising work of contemporary art with some heart imbued into every part. In a country where students are driven to suicide by their impossible curriculum, 3 Idiots provides hope. Maybe cinema can't save lives. But cinema, sure as hell, can make you feel life is worth living. 3 Idiots does just that, and much more. The director takes the definition of entertainment into directions of social comment without assuming that he knows best.”; “simplistic ‘humanism alone works’ philosophy…”; “…it's a lovely story, of a man from nowhere who wanted to learn, told like a fairy tale, with the secret heart carrying its coded message of setting all of us free.”; “unavoidable joie de vivre…social commentary on a dysfunctional engineering school system that pressures huge numbers of students into suicide.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3_Idiots)

If you haven’t seen it, DO! If you have seen it, what do YOU think: Realistic, Science Fiction, or Fantasy?

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