The Real Idiot

first_imgThe highly anticipated movie, 3 Idiots, produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and directed by Raju Hirani, which was released on Dec. 25, grossed a whopping $70 million within 18 days of its release, catapulting it as “the highest grossing Bollywood movie of all time.”But not everyone involved with the movie is celebrating. The movie is based on Five Point Someone (popularly called FPS), the bestselling debut novel by Chetan Bhagat. Within days of the movie’s release, Bhagat accused the makers of 3 Idiots of failing to give him due credit for the story. “They added a story credit right upfront, without my name, thus negating my contribution. My name was buried in the rolling credits at the end of the movie, after the junior artists and still photographer, and zoomed away fast. My own mother missed seeing my name after the film.”  Investment banker Chetan Bhagat poses with his novel One Night @ The Call Center in Hong Kong in 2005From his blog post, it appears that what irked Bhagat most was the fact that pre-release, the makers of 3 Idiots issued press statements that the movie is “very loosely,” or “only 2%-5% based” on FPS. He says, “When I saw the movie I felt that the movie was 70% of the book, and so I should have been given a prominent credit upfront, which didn’t happen. Also, when they started doing media promotions, they kept me completely out of it (you will never find me in an interview with them). And crores was poured into publicity on shutting me out and cementing the fact that 3 Idiots was not based on FPS.”In his defense, Hirani said, “Yes, the movie is inspired by the book. But while adapting it to the silver screen, we realized that we would have to change it a lot; the book is very anecdotal, but a movie has to have a plot. But he has signed a contract, giving us the rights to modify or change the story. The contract also clearly states that credit shall be given to him in the rolling credits, which was duly done. And we haven’t changed the font or increased the speed as Chetan claims.” At a press conference following the controversy, Chopra clarified that “we have paid him the entire amount (Rs. 1 lakh upfront and Rs. 10 lakhs as bonus after the movie was made) that we were supposed to as per the contract. So I don’t understand why Chetan is creating this controversy. This is all being done with a bad intention. I don’t want to see his face ever again.” Chopra lost his cool at the press conference and asked a reporter to shut up after being questioned whether was lifted from FPS. He later apologized for his outburst : “I really think I’m silly. I was provoked, but I shouldn’t have done this. I saw myself on TV and saw how I was shouting ‘shut up, shut up’ like an animal. I told myself — ‘what nonsensical behavior’.” So is 3 Idiots 2%-5% based on FPS like the makers of the movie claim, or 70% like Bhagat and his fans feel? Here is my take.The major similarities between the book and the movie are: 1. Both, the book and the movie, are about three friends at a premier engineering institute, who bond over ragging, and don’t quite like the way that they’re being taught. But there are many more similarities. One of them, rather extraordinarily, defies the seniors, and generally turns out to be much “cooler” than the other two, the second is terrified by the pressure of college, and the third is from a family that’s struggling financially, which leads him into taking some pretty “extreme steps.” Their shared disaffection results in disciplinary problems that are pretty much unchanged between the book and the movie, and those problems aren’t resolved differently either.2. One of the three friends starts seeing the daughter of a quirky professor, and there’s a major plot point — the biggest twist in the book and the second biggest in the movie — that has to do with the professor’s family. That bit is a direct lift, but it is a lot more “filmi” in the movie.3. The book and movie have 8-10 identical scenes, including some identical one-liners. 4.   The book and the movie have many similar things to say about India’s educational system, about controlling parents, about stifled creativity, and they say them in the same way, using Bhagat’s language.The major difference between the book and the movie are:1. The movie doesn’t stop at graduation; it follows the three friends into their post-college-education life, which is where it gets to its biggest twist.2. The “cool” character in the book is played in the movie by Aamir Khan, though the character is over six feet tall in the book. And in the movie, unlike in the book, he isn’t prone to sulks, and his distaste for the teaching methods doesn’t affect his ability to perform in exams, in which he in fact excels. In the movie he also makes certain “cool” things, which become central to the plot. Also, he is the one who has a love affair with the professor’s daughter.3.  The movie contains a lot of “original” humor, which is the trademark of Hirani’s films. His humor first made the audience ROTFL, short for “rolling on the floor laughing,” in Munnabhai MBBS, then in Lage Raho Munnabhai, and now in 3 Idiots to an even greater degree. The most notable of the humorous scenes is “the speech” delivered by Chatur Ramalingam, the Hindi-challenged character, superbly portrayed by the relatively unknown Omi Vaidya, a Los Angeles based actor.4. The movie leaves the viewers feeling very “good” and “positive.” It almost makes you want to be a better person, which is something that the book doesn’t do at all.So to be fair, I would say that the movie is about 30% like the book. But I would add that that is not just about how many scenes are identical between the book and the movie. Even if the movie was 70% of the book, as Bhagat feels, if the impact of the other 30% is bigger, then it would be fair to say that the movie is “quite different” compared to the book, which is what the makers of 3 Idiots seem to be saying, and I am totally with them on that.  Whatever changes Hirani made to the book’s story, combined with his humor and the presence of stars like Aamir Khan, Sharman Joshi, Kareena Kapoor, Boman Irani, and Omi Vaidya has transformed FPS into something magical. Bhagat is wrong to assume that 3 Idiots has achieved its phenomenal success because it is based on FPS. Let me remind Bhagat that his book One Night @ The Call Centre was also adapted to the silver screen and its box office collections after three weeks were just over $800,000, which is a tiny fraction of what 3 Idiots has made in the same period.That being said, I don’t see why the makers couldn’t have given Bhagat more credit and included him in the movie’s media promotions. His presence wouldn’t have hurt the success of the film; on the contrary, it would have only added to it. Perhaps Bhagat rubbed them the wrong way. Or maybe they have some other considerations for distancing themselves from him and FPS. We have no way of knowing and perhaps that is what makes Bhagat “sad and depressed.” But I suspect that the real reason he is ticked off has got something to do with the fact that he made only $22,000 of the $70 million the movie has pulled. But then again, if he had known that 3 Idiots was going to break all box office records, he would have structured his contract differently, especially given his knowledge of banking and finance as an investment banker. But he didn’t, and all he can do now, besides kicking himself on his rear end, is stir up a controversy over credit placement and the percentage of similarities between the book and the movie in the hope that it will help sell another million copies of FPS.Now, who is the real idiot here?  Related Itemslast_img

first_imgThe highly anticipated movie, 3 Idiots, produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and directed by Raju Hirani, which was released on Dec. 25, grossed a whopping $70 million within 18 days of its release, catapulting it as “the highest grossing Bollywood movie of all time.”But not everyone involved with the movie is celebrating. The movie is based on Five Point Someone (popularly called FPS), the bestselling debut novel by Chetan Bhagat. Within days of the movie’s release, Bhagat accused the makers of 3 Idiots of failing to give him due credit for the story. “They added a story credit right upfront, without my name, thus negating my contribution. My name was buried in the rolling credits at the end of the movie, after the junior artists and still photographer, and zoomed away fast. My own mother missed seeing my name after the film.”  Investment banker Chetan Bhagat poses with his novel One Night @ The Call Center in Hong Kong in 2005From his blog post, it appears that what irked Bhagat most was the fact that pre-release, the makers of 3 Idiots issued press statements that the movie is “very loosely,” or “only 2%-5% based” on FPS. He says, “When I saw the movie I felt that the movie was 70% of the book, and so I should have been given a prominent credit upfront, which didn’t happen. Also, when they started doing media promotions, they kept me completely out of it (you will never find me in an interview with them). And crores was poured into publicity on shutting me out and cementing the fact that 3 Idiots was not based on FPS.”In his defense, Hirani said, “Yes, the movie is inspired by the book. But while adapting it to the silver screen, we realized that we would have to change it a lot; the book is very anecdotal, but a movie has to have a plot. But he has signed a contract, giving us the rights to modify or change the story. The contract also clearly states that credit shall be given to him in the rolling credits, which was duly done. And we haven’t changed the font or increased the speed as Chetan claims.” At a press conference following the controversy, Chopra clarified that “we have paid him the entire amount (Rs. 1 lakh upfront and Rs. 10 lakhs as bonus after the movie was made) that we were supposed to as per the contract. So I don’t understand why Chetan is creating this controversy. This is all being done with a bad intention. I don’t want to see his face ever again.” Chopra lost his cool at the press conference and asked a reporter to shut up after being questioned whether was lifted from FPS. He later apologized for his outburst : “I really think I’m silly. I was provoked, but I shouldn’t have done this. I saw myself on TV and saw how I was shouting ‘shut up, shut up’ like an animal. I told myself — ‘what nonsensical behavior’.” So is 3 Idiots 2%-5% based on FPS like the makers of the movie claim, or 70% like Bhagat and his fans feel? Here is my take.The major similarities between the book and the movie are: 1. Both, the book and the movie, are about three friends at a premier engineering institute, who bond over ragging, and don’t quite like the way that they’re being taught. But there are many more similarities. One of them, rather extraordinarily, defies the seniors, and generally turns out to be much “cooler” than the other two, the second is terrified by the pressure of college, and the third is from a family that’s struggling financially, which leads him into taking some pretty “extreme steps.” Their shared disaffection results in disciplinary problems that are pretty much unchanged between the book and the movie, and those problems aren’t resolved differently either.2. One of the three friends starts seeing the daughter of a quirky professor, and there’s a major plot point — the biggest twist in the book and the second biggest in the movie — that has to do with the professor’s family. That bit is a direct lift, but it is a lot more “filmi” in the movie.3. The book and movie have 8-10 identical scenes, including some identical one-liners. 4.   The book and the movie have many similar things to say about India’s educational system, about controlling parents, about stifled creativity, and they say them in the same way, using Bhagat’s language.The major difference between the book and the movie are:1. The movie doesn’t stop at graduation; it follows the three friends into their post-college-education life, which is where it gets to its biggest twist.2. The “cool” character in the book is played in the movie by Aamir Khan, though the character is over six feet tall in the book. And in the movie, unlike in the book, he isn’t prone to sulks, and his distaste for the teaching methods doesn’t affect his ability to perform in exams, in which he in fact excels. In the movie he also makes certain “cool” things, which become central to the plot. Also, he is the one who has a love affair with the professor’s daughter.3.  The movie contains a lot of “original” humor, which is the trademark of Hirani’s films. His humor first made the audience ROTFL, short for “rolling on the floor laughing,” in Munnabhai MBBS, then in Lage Raho Munnabhai, and now in 3 Idiots to an even greater degree. The most notable of the humorous scenes is “the speech” delivered by Chatur Ramalingam, the Hindi-challenged character, superbly portrayed by the relatively unknown Omi Vaidya, a Los Angeles based actor.4. The movie leaves the viewers feeling very “good” and “positive.” It almost makes you want to be a better person, which is something that the book doesn’t do at all.So to be fair, I would say that the movie is about 30% like the book. But I would add that that is not just about how many scenes are identical between the book and the movie. Even if the movie was 70% of the book, as Bhagat feels, if the impact of the other 30% is bigger, then it would be fair to say that the movie is “quite different” compared to the book, which is what the makers of 3 Idiots seem to be saying, and I am totally with them on that.  Whatever changes Hirani made to the book’s story, combined with his humor and the presence of stars like Aamir Khan, Sharman Joshi, Kareena Kapoor, Boman Irani, and Omi Vaidya has transformed FPS into something magical. Bhagat is wrong to assume that 3 Idiots has achieved its phenomenal success because it is based on FPS. Let me remind Bhagat that his book One Night @ The Call Centre was also adapted to the silver screen and its box office collections after three weeks were just over $800,000, which is a tiny fraction of what 3 Idiots has made in the same period.That being said, I don’t see why the makers couldn’t have given Bhagat more credit and included him in the movie’s media promotions. His presence wouldn’t have hurt the success of the film; on the contrary, it would have only added to it. Perhaps Bhagat rubbed them the wrong way. Or maybe they have some other considerations for distancing themselves from him and FPS. We have no way of knowing and perhaps that is what makes Bhagat “sad and depressed.” But I suspect that the real reason he is ticked off has got something to do with the fact that he made only $22,000 of the $70 million the movie has pulled. But then again, if he had known that 3 Idiots was going to break all box office records, he would have structured his contract differently, especially given his knowledge of banking and finance as an investment banker. But he didn’t, and all he can do now, besides kicking himself on his rear end, is stir up a controversy over credit placement and the percentage of similarities between the book and the movie in the hope that it will help sell another million copies of FPS.Now, who is the real idiot here?  Related Itemslast_img

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