Take it easy

That is the message Five Point Someone has for those who are stressed with too much to read and too little to understand. That is what those three idiots tried to convey through fun

LIFE'S FUN

AB. MAJEED DAR

Chetan Bhagat has widened the scope of Indian English fiction by including new themes in his novel Five Point Someone. The trio of Ryan, Hari and Alok do not accept anything blindly, but they ask questions to the authority in the class and outside the class without inhibitions. When the definition of machine put forward by Dr. Dubey did not satisfy Ryanís curiosity, he sought clarification to his doubts. To be firm to oneís own opinion is a postcolonial spirit that shows revolt against traditional philosophy of morality. Neha overthrows her fatherís authority by ignoring his presence in the adjacent room while she and Hari make love in her own house.
     Education became an organized social activity in the second half of the twentieth century that deteriorated into eco-political arena. Education lost its  luster and became an instrument of financial gain at the hands of politicians. Fierce competition between different educational institutes turned into lifeless industries. Close connection between academic achievement and job opportunities ended the honourable link between personal aptitude and choice of courses because a personís aptitude does not matter at all. What mattered was his or her saleability which mostly depended upon the oral and written examinations.
     Chetan Bhagat makes fun of this professionalism in Five Point Someone. Ryan, Hari and Alok, who get five point something out of maximum ten are considered average students not only by the students but also by their teachers. Teachers ignored them, their head frowned at them and other students avoided their company for fear of losing their grades. But nobody knew the intrinsic value of their intelligence and the talent operating behind their naughty pranks. When other boys submitted mediocre projects as a part of their internal assessment Ryan prepared an innovative project on mechanical jack. Dr. Cherian rejected the project as academically unsound and economically unviable, not because it was really so but because he disliked Ryan. This shows that Indian teachers even in the highest centres of learning like IIT do not allow independent and creative thinking from students. Education means to liberate learners from petty concerns. Teacher who helps his students redeem from ignorance, slavery and subservience is guru. Unfortunately most of us have established a strong nexus between degree and job. We have ignored the element called skill in the entire education system. We do not give any weight-age to voluntary research in the field of knowledge. Chetan Bhagat attacks and criticizes the existing educational system that produces only fact-stuffing and cramming parrots. Dr. Cherian was responsible for the death of his own son, Samir in the mad pursuit of IIT degree, who could not face the challenges put forward to him by his father and the society, and kills himself. Everyone knew that he died of train accident but in fact it was a case of suicide. Through this event, Chetan Bhagat conveys a message to the society that the over-expectation of parents puts a lot of pressure upon children which results sometimes in the cases of suicide. In fact, children should be left to chalk out their own course and they should be given liberty to choose the suitable branch of study according to their liking. Dr. Cherian remarks, ďDonít judge others too quickly. I thought my son was useless because he did not get into IIT. I tell you what, I was a useless father. It is great to get into IIT, but it is not the end of the world if you donít. All of you should be proud to have IIT tag, but never ever judge anyone who is not from this institute that alone can define the greatness of this institute.Ē (Bhagat 261)
     The novel attacks the modern education system and the people who run it. Ryan asks a straight forward question to Dr. Dubey during his first lecture on machine. Dr. Dubey reproduces the obsolete definition of machine like a parrot. Mr. Dubey had learned it many years ago when he was a student in the IIT, that machine is a device that reduces human effort. Ryan asks him whether his definition can be applied to appliances in gym. Prof. Dubey avoids not only an honest debate on his inquiry but also avoids him since then. The shallowness of the teacher community is exposed time and again by the students.
     Ryan, Hari and Alok sneak into Dr. Cherianís cabin at night to steal a question paper for scoring maximum marks in the examination, but the system punished them for their adventure. The incident shows examinees attitude to go to any extent to achieve their target. The system demands that students become dishonest. It is therefore necessary that the system should be held equally responsible for studentís misadventures. This action also exposes the often repeated claims about the sanctity of examinations and the truth that there is nothing really secret and pious about examinations. Dr. Cherianís public confession of his guilty dealings with his son validates the three boyís behavior as right. He makes his heart open by holding himself solely responsible for the death of his only son. His valedictory speech on the one had heightened the societyís respect for teacher community and on the other hand endorsed Ryanís behavior as acceptable.
     The novel can be looked upon as light vein comedy making fun of teachers, examinations and system. Incidents like Ryan asking questions in the classroom, Ryan beating Babu, three idiots entering the headís office, Hari making love to Neha in Dr. Cherianís house, Hari sleeping during Dr. Cherianís convocation address, uncompromising father finding his daughter with her boyfriend, boys drinking alcohol on the roof can make us giggle. But the same incidents acquire serious parameters when they are contextualized differently.       
      This popular novel, Five Point Someone of Chetan Bhagat appealed to the film producers and directors much because it appeals to the youths much. The film Three Idiots is based on this novel. In the film, Amir Khan is the hero and Kareena Kapoor is the heroine. Prof. Veeru Sahastrabudhe, the director of Imperial College of Engineering is known for his strict discipline and the students jokingly call him Virus. In the film, the three friends are Farhan, Raju Rastogi, and Rancho. During the course, a student named Joy commits suicide due to pressure of study. Rancho, the hero of the film blames the entire educational system for his death. He clearly tells the director that students here die more of suicide than diseases. There is a constant pressure upon students to get good marks in the examination. Chatur Ramlingam scores good marks in the examination due to his cramming capacity, but his originality is exposed in his speech on Teacherís Day. He has prepared his speech in Hindi and crams it. In order to show us the  follies of the cramming Rancho cleverly changes some words of his speech. Chatur crams the entire speech without understanding the meaning of some words and the result is quite disastrous. The hero of the film wants to show that by cramming we can get good marks in the examination but we canít get new ideas.
     Thus we see that Three Idiots is a successful film combining enjoyment and serious thought. It is a satire on the modern educational system like the novel Five Point Someone. The defective evaluation system fails to judge the real merit of a student. Both the film and the novel inspire the academic world to think over this problem seriously.
(Ab. Majeed Dar is Assistant Professor, Department of English Language & Literature Islamic University, Awantipora)

Lastupdate on : Wed, 10 Apr 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 10 Apr 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 11 Apr 2013 00:00:00 IST




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