3 Idiots-what about its story?

I could not complete this post for quite a while for a variety of reasons. After all the controversy about the movie 3 idiots, I finally saw it sometime back.

First, I must tell you why I went to see the movie. I did not go to see the movie because of the fake controversy created in the media by Chetan Bhagat and maybe the producers of 3 Idiots. I say “maybe” in the case of the producers because I think the movie was already a success by the time the controversy hit the front pages of the “Idiot newspapers” of this country so I realy don’t think they had any motive behind raking up the controversy. On the other hand, Chetan Bhagat had all to gain. Anyway, let me get back to why I went to see 3 Idiots.

I usually do not see hindi movies as they basically do not have stories. I see only those movies which I get to know have a story. For instance, I have seen “Lage Raho Munnabhai” and I feel that it was an exellent movie with a great message for all of us. Another movie that I want to see is “Rocket Singh” because I think it is about a management concept on which I have written 3 books. Anyway, my wife and my daughter see Hindi movies without me.

What interested me in watching the movie was a scene from its advertisement. There was a scene in the 3 Idiots advertisements which was being shown on the TV where Aamir Khan is teaching a classroom and he tells Bomani (the professor) something to the effect, “I am not teaching you engineering. I am teaching you how to teach.” This line and its underlying meaning is what interested me and I told my wife that I would like to see the movie.

As far as education is concerned, I believe in the following:

(a) The focus should be on understanding the concepts and on their practical applications. Rote learning should be discouraged. Can you imagine doing a history course without rote learning? I doubt it. Well, I have attended such a course. I remember the professor of the American history class I took at the University of Houston didn’t ask us to learn all the significant historical dates. In fact, he used to give us the dates and facts in the exam. All he wanted from us was to tell him why a particular historical event was important and how did it effect the people, the country or the world. Can you imagine that I actually became interested in American history.

(b) The teachers and authors should make the concepts easy to understand for the students. I remember learning economics with just graphs. The professor of this course just taught us to make graphs and even the answers to his questions in the exam were in the form of graphs. It was not only easy to understand the economic concepts by graphs but also very interesting. Since I am involved in management education, let me give you an example as to what I mean. Management Guru CK Prahalad wrote a book on his concept of Core Competence. I regret to say that the book was not only boring but I hate to admit I could not even understand or retain 75% of what was in that book. Phillip Kotler’s marketing book is considered to be the bible on marketing in business schools but I can bet not many go through it. On the other hand, read “Marketing Myopia” or “Positioning” by Al Ries and Jack Trout and you would understand what I mean when I say that we should make concepts easy to understand as well as interesting.

It is because of the above that when I teach or conduct a training program or write books, articles and blog, I am focused on making management concepts simple and easy to understand. I have even come out with a management magazine, Management Talk, with the the above objective.

After listening to the dialogue of Aamir Khan in the advertisement, I assumed that the movie is going to be focussed on the basic idea of shifting the focus of our education system on the lines that I have discussed above. As such, I decided to see the movie to find out how exactly they were going to go about to convincing the audience of their ideas and if I could learn a thing or two from the movie.

I finally saw the movie with my wife. Now I don’t want to comment whether the movie was good, bad or ugly because you cannot argue with a runaway success of over Rs. 300 crores or when history was being made in Bollywood. So why am talking about it? Basically, I would like to use it as a case study to understand how to build a convincing story for your written and oral communications as well as how to avoid the mistakes that others make while telling their story. Some of you may know that I am obsessed with the idea of building a convincing story for all my written and oral communications. In fact, I have written a book titled “80-20 rule of communicating your ideas effectively.” I will use the story of 3 Idiots to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the story of this movie. Before I do that I would like to challenge you guys to let me know what do you think was right or wrong with the story of 3 Idiots.

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