Ten Reasons Why Rocket Singh is Better than 3 Idiots

I saw Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year yesterday and thought I’d review it today. But then I happened to watch 3 Idiots in the night. The time difference between the two films was way too less for me to not draw a comparison.

1. Characters and their Motivations: All the characters of Rocket Singh are beautifully etched and once established, stay true to their boundaries. Harpreet Singh is a boy of strong conscience as is reflected from the pizza and brushing teeth on seeing the screen saver incidents. These little things convince us that he is the kind of person who’d stand up for principles and do what he does. Motives of the supporting cast are so clearly visible – like Giri is in it for profit only and therefore, is the first one to panic and spill every time. Koena is in it for pride, and that shows and so on. Plus 1 point.

As opposed to this, 3 Idiots has feeble character motivation or at least they are not clearly conveyed to the audience. The movie is about the three friends but how they became such great buddies remained unclear to me. They found themselves in the same hostel room and then? When Farhan first meets Raju, the latter does not even respond to his greeting but in the very next scene we see the two sharing secret glances. Also, a gardener’s son who is studying to satisfy his hunger for knowledge and is helping someone get a fake degree preaches one and all at every opportunity? Minus 1 point.

2. Script: Rocket Singh is a simple story of a boy entering the corporate world and trying to make a career he can be proud of. What makes the story powerful is the well-etched characters and a crisp script. Every scene is in there for a reason and not just to make you laugh or cry or some such. The reason Harpreet Singh was brought up by an old grandfather is not because Shimit Amin wanted Prem Chopra in his film but because the principles and beliefs of Harpreet Singh are purer and a little old-fashioned, definitely instilled by someone of yester-generation. Plus 1 point.

Complicated story with lots of twists to entertain you, and give you a wholesome masala experience in 3 Idiots. Scenes are in there to make you laugh, choke, and giggle only. They are often over the top and unreal, but they establish the super powers of the characters, for only a super human can deliver a baby with a vacuum cleaner, in my extremely humble opinion. Even worse is that the jokes are stale and remind me of the days when I created my first Yahoo! Mail account and all my friends would send me forwards. Apparently, Raj Kumar Hirani never deleted those forwards. But I think I heard the astronaut’s pen joke before the Internet came into our lives. Minus 1 point. Wait, have you seen this? Minus 2 points.

3. Plot Holes: I have a firm belief that setting a clever story, telling it fascinatingly is way easier than winding it up convincingly. Therefore, I usually give some benefit to all films and ignore if the end is not very realistic. Rocket Singh did a superb job of keeping things real even towards the end; Mister Puri did not have a change of heart out of the blue, he was getting rid of the company that had become a liability. Yes, he accepted defeat and said a few humble things but still the director won me over by adding a blink-n-miss detail. As Puri walks away after handing over the company, Harpreet murmurs “See you in the field” and then proceeds to set his things on the aisle! So true to the character. Plus 1.

3 Idiots is a funny film, not because of the aforementioned jokes but because of the lack of reasoning. Let’s do a quick role play. Say you are the daughter of the principal of an institution and are in love with one of your father’s student. This love of your life goes missing after graduating. In the following ten years when you continue to pine for him, will it ever cross your mind to get his records pulled out and try to find him? Oh, and you are the same person who illegally copied your father’s room keys to help your lover’s friend. Also, when you get down to finding him all you really need to do is land up at the city square of his city and ask for him. Minus 1 point.

4. Casting: Rocket Singh is a story of youth straight out of college. The youth is portrayed by a 27 year old actor. Since this is the basic need of the film, no special points.

The main lead of 3 Idiots is a college kid with brains extraordinaire. He is portrayed by a 44 year old actor. Since this is plain stupid, minus 3 points.

5. Sense of Humor: Subtle jokes that are not told like you are reading them out of Champak are the best kind! Rocket Singh has humor entwined in its script. When the loving granddad buys his grandson a shiny red scooty that starts with a push of button, we are in splits. When the porn-addict Giri displays the sales records bar chart using hot girls, the God-fearing Mishra with Lord Ganesha, and Harpreet with rockets, we are in splits. When Harpreet risks his new job to call up granddad to ask him to not wait up for dinner, we smile. Plus 1 point.

3 Idiots’ sense of humor is not poor because it uses the jokes that we cracked in our classrooms and our parents in theirs, but because it is also in very poor taste. If I was aghast to see a paralytic father as a prop for comic relief, I was downright disgusted to see rape being used as a joke! I refuse to even talk about this any further. Minus 5 points.

6. Misplaced Moral Values: Rocket Singh sees the protagonist cheating his boss to get back at him. All this while he is guilty and he knows what he is doing is wrong. He never proclaims to be the honest goodie two shoes. He is what he is. Plus 1.

3 Idiots has this awesome Rancho who tells strange girls that their fiancés are money-minded and steals question papers for his friend but he also monkey-arounds with Chatur’s speech in front of the whole University just because he likes to cram and compete to stand first in the class! Minus 1.

7. Suspension of Disbelief: A movie is a movie and requires some degree of suspension of disbelief. While I am more than happy to achieve a degree as high as 90 for a sci-fi or a fantasy film, there is only so much one can do for a film trying to be real. Rocket Singh had exactly one scene that I needed to let go past – the scene where Puri walks in and hands over the company and says that Harpreet deserves it. May not happen in real life. 1 +.

3 Idiots required suspension of disbelief to match Avatar‘s degree! Be it the ability to stop the plane by faking heart attack, engineering makeshift instruments to electrocute people or deliver babies, or bringing stillborns back to life by sprouting slogans! As if this was not enough, even the human nature is questionable. Like Pia first ditching her fiancé on being provoked by someone who just ruined her father’s reputation, and then 10 years later, marrying the same guy. Like the two friends and one girlfriend immediately understanding that their fair friend abandoned them for a reason beyond his control. Maybe I am just a very bad person, but I do not get this. 1 -.

8. Villains are Bad People: Often the baddy in the film has no motivation to be bad. He is a Mogambo who just wants to rule the world! Rocket Singh has grey characters, which is the biggest strength of the film. All characters behave the way they do for a reason. Puri is the bad guy because he is a mean employer who works to maximize his own profit. Lesser commission the employees get, more money he makes. Simple formula. Plus 1.

Principal in 3 Idiots is the villain who drives kids (including his own) to suicide by building pressure because he likes to do so! He is bad just because. He does not see logic, he does not have feelings, and he is just a mean Mogambo. Okay? Okay. Oh yes, he has a change of heart and takes back the rustication of the three students who had stolen an exam paper just because they vacuumed his grandchild out of his daughter on a ping pong table on a rainy night when Delhi became Mumbai and traffic came to a stand still. (Which has never happened in Delhi, at least, in my life.) Minus 1.

9. Trying too Hard: I have heard that if you achieve great success, life only gets tougher and you have to constantly try to keep up with yourself. Shimit Amin did not let his Chak De India success overshadow his Rocket Singh project. Plus 1.

Raj Kumar Hirani tried desperately to add everything that Munna Bhai had to 3 Idiots, including an aging actor as a college student. However, one has to be blind and deaf to miss what he was trying to achieve with “Aal Iz Well,” but sadly, it is no “Jadu ki Jhappi!” Minus 1.

10. Because I Say So: Rocket Singh was breezy and funny. But I do not care for any particular scene in it as much as dislike a few vulgar ones from 3 Idiots.

Total Scores:

Rocket Singh: A shiny 8

3 Idiots: An abysmal -16 (To be fair, it aint that bad a movie. It is just that one expected better from both Raj Kumar Hirani and Aamir Khan. If this were an Akshay Kumar/Ajay Devgun comedy, I would not even bother with a post.)


23 Responses to “Ten Reasons Why Rocket Singh is Better than 3 Idiots”

  1. Excellent review (or should I say reviews) – very well written.

    Most of your comments match exactly what I felt as I cringed at the juvenile humor and the amazing fallacies throughout 3 Idiots. Rocket Singh was such a refreshing film; it’s sad the majority of the Indian populace didn’t treat it right and instead is glorifying ‘3 Idiots’ like its salvation itself.

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  3. very well said!!!

  4. Write lil lesss.. got bored halfway

  5. Well, I read The Astronaut Pen and Pencil joke in Reader’s Digest way back, so you’re spot on, it does pre-date the internet!

  6. intelshwets Says:

    Great post.
    Thought the same about sms and email jokes, and I-can’t-fathom-how-on-earth-all-iz-well-makes-baby-kick.
    I observed that people do not care much for realistic sets and characters. Just slapstick comedy.

  7. Nice post..I loved rocket singh and 3 idiot as well(obviously munnabhai series was better);

    but for something that doesn’t happen in real life, you are giving +1 to rocket singh? nobody will do what puri did. Any lets be frank last part of movie (arnd last 30-40 minutes) was very slow in rocket singh.

    Its easy to be critical after watching a movie but weren’t you laughing while watching 3 idiot? specially the chatur’s speech? If your ans is NO. Then double thumbs up for your post 🙂

    • sunshin3girl Says:

      Heh, you have to understand that I was comparing the two movies coz I saw them on the same day. I gave +1 to Rocket Singh for only having one dramatic scene. As I said earlier, it is very difficult to wind up stories happily without adding drama.

      On your second point, yes I did have some fun while watching 3 Idiots. It was no Yuvraj where I had to bang my head against the wall ten minutes down the film. But no, I did NOT laugh during Chatur’s speech at all. I was truly appalled. Rape is serious, it is difficult to make most women laugh by repeating the word ten times.

      • May be…but I was sitting next to a 30+ lady and she was laughing harder than me(but as you said, most of the women wont sp )…I agree you shouldn’t make fun on topic as serious and cruel as RAPE but it was kinda in a good fun way..if you see their intention were not bad..and chaturs accent 🙂

        nways nice post!!!

  8. Haha! Couldn’t agree more. I really wonder why people have been so hardcore about defending that plagiarised bit of tripe. At least the ones on my site’s take on it. XD


  9. This is ekdum subhanallah stuff.
    I definitely agree on each and every bullet point you have enlisted and most importantly it goes to prove a point – that 3 idiots isn’t all that.

    I was an Engineering student once, and even the book was a bit OTT masala at points. The movie just overhauls it and puts it on full throttle. While nostalgia is a definite selling point for 3 idiots, the histrionics and the illogical proceedings do not add up to make it the so-called ‘movie of 2009’. Far from it.

    Rocket Singh is indeed a well written and smartly executed movie and Ranbir shines throughout along with the awesome cast. Never thought of comparing them on a scale though. My favorites for 2009 wud rather be Kaminey and Dev D.

    Here are my thoughts on Rocket Singh:

    And here’s wht I ranted on 3 idiots:

    Am off to reading more of your stuff.


  10. All these days I kept wondering why I liked Rocket Singh and not 3 Idiots. I think I have my answer now.

  11. Very Well written blog. The comparision between two movies is touching nearly perfection. Any one with few moral values will feel the same difference what u have written for RS and 3I.

    Personally I will give RS 9 (1 extra point for story which may not be new but original not using someone else like 3I which after the success keeping the main person (Chetan Bhagat) out of success credit)

    Keep it up.


  12. Hey,

    Extremely well written Anu ! Loved reading it, coz Rocket Singh is for me clearly the best film of 2009.
    I would add one extra point and that is the supporting cast (or maybe you have mentionned it in point1). The supporting cast of Rocket Singh – RElatively new faces (at least for me): Giri, Nitin, Puri even Gauhar Khan..(I didn’t care much for the stuff she did pre-RS)…well all of them share almost as much reel space as Ranbir and they were SUPERB!! The scene where Nitin takes HP for his first field visit-awesome ! And Giri !! too much..I think we’ve actually met people like these in our day to day lives…just brilliant!
    On the other hand (since your post is RS vs 3i) it felt as though Sharman and Maddy have been plucked out of bed, scripts pushed in their hands and then asked to act out their lines…left much to be desired..very disappointing…Even my hubby who is a die hard Aamir+ Madhavan fan had to admit as much.

  13. Hey,

    Really love this piece! Glad I’m not the only one who feels this way. 🙂


  14. Exactly why i dint like 3 idiots. Though, I laughed for the first 2-3 times the word was used but then it was used way too much in the movie for much. I wondered how traumatic it would have been for females to go through that scene. But to my surprise, none of my female friends dint say a word against that speech and infact everyone find it awesome! Then I wondered if i was reading too much into it on finding not even i single girl/ women who felt disgusted with it the way i felt.
    Thank god i found your post that i know not only a girl but also a few guys who think about it the same way.
    my 3 idiots review: http://knayam.com/2010/01/04/3-idiots-review/

  15. Great post… relevant comparison given that both movies released at about the same time, both had directors with a great reputation and the themes were similar (youth/careers/ethics).

    I agreed with your assessment completely, and thanks for capturing in detail the various aspects of both the movies.

    It’s unfortunate that 3 Idiots will be talked about as the biggest grosser of all times and all that, whereas Rocket Singh will be remembered, if at all, as Ranbir Kapoor coming of age.

    My take on 3 Idiots, from a different angle though: http://globalgyan.posterous.com/3-idiots-yahaan-ka-system-hi-hai-kharab & http://globalgyan.posterous.com/3-idiots-dreams-and-reality

    For those looking for some authentic vignettes from engineering/hostel life, I have resurrected some old stories at http://www.hostelitis.com

  16. Nice summary!!!

    I posted this as my FB status a few days ago and none of the comments were favorable….

    “Phunsuk Wangdu…you may make a lot of money and you may be more famous and you are not as bad as some people make you out to be…….but Rocket Singh is the true Hero!!!!”

  17. […] : Sunshine Girl What : Ten Reasons Why Rocket Singh is Better than 3 Idiots Spicy : 3 Idiots became the highest grosser in Bollywood. But Sunshine Girl believes Rocket Singh […]

  18. Lovely post 🙂 Finally, there’s someone out there who doesn’t just worship the 3 idiots!

  19. […] Ten Reasons Why Rocket Singh is Better than 3 Idiots « sunshin3girlI saw Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year yesterday and thought I’d review it today. But then I happened to watch 3 Idiots in the night. The time difference between the two films was way too less for me to not draw a comparison. … 1. Characters and their Motivations: All the characters of Rocket Singh … As opposed to this, […]

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