26 June 2013 by Tan Soo-Inn
I am not surprised that the movie, The Three Idiots is the highest grossing movie in India and the highest grossing Indian movie internationally.
Bernice saw it a year ago and highly recommended it but busyness and the fact that I don’t normally watch Bollywood movies meant I only caught the movie for the first time at our church camp a couple of weeks ago. It is a long movie and some parts are too “fomularish” but I guess we don’t go to a Bollywood movie for subtlety. But don’t be fooled. The movie is in fact a morality play and though it keeps you laughing all the way, the story line teaches some profound lessons.
I thought the ending of the movie was telling in how it portrays the hopes that dwell in most human hearts. The ending reminded me of the new heaven and the new earth as described in the book of Revelation. I noticed the following themes in the movie’s ending.
First, evil gets punished and evil bullies get their come-uppance. Chatur, the bad guy in the story who had been a thorn in the heroes’ sides throughout, and who appears to win for awhile, is defeated in the end. Good triumphs over evil.
However there is hope if you repent. The college director, Viru Sahastrabuddhe, finally surrenders to the grace he receives from the students he persecuted. He is transformed. He is saved. In contrast, the Javert character from Les Miserables refuses grace and is lost. Viru’s “salvation” takes place earlier in the storyline but we remember it even in the final scenes and wonder if Chatur will ever see the light.
The Three Idiots’ vision of “heaven” also celebrates vocational salvation. People are freed to do what they were meant to do and to be what they were meant to be. This is a major theme in the movie. TheFarhan character for example is freed to pursue his passion for wildlife photography. One key component of happy endings is that we no longer have to act out scripts forced on us by others. We can finally be who we were meant to be.
Of course happy endings must include love. The lovers, Rancho/Chhote and Ria are finally united. But the love between the three friends was celebrated, tested, and validated throughout the movie. We are created for community and no happy ending will be happy without love.
And finally, the ending scenes take place in gorgeous Ladakh, “a region of India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir that lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladakh). The backdrop of mountains and lakes is beautiful. It appears that happy endings include an environment unsullied by pollution or destructive natural disasters.
So, happy endings include:
- Evil defeated at last (Revelation 20).
- Vocational salvation. There is still work in heaven. There is a new heaven and a new earth, and humankind continue their calling to manage this new creation even as Adam and Eve were tasked to manage the first creation. There is service in the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 22:3b) but we will be assigned tasks that make sense of who we are.
- Love. Humankind was created for relationships and Jesus had earlier affirmed that eternal life was defined by the twin relationships of love for God and love for neighbour (Luke 10:25–28). In heaven we will experience these two loves perfectly (Revelation 21).
- Perfect environment. In the new heaven and the new earth, Eden will be restored (Revelation 22:1–5) and we will once again live in a perfect environment.
Sounds too good to be true? That is how I felt about the ending of The Three Idiots. It was emotionally satisfying but too good to be true. That should also be how we feel about the portrayal of the ending shown in the book of Revelation. It’s just too good to be true. Unless it is true. Jesus’ resurrection is an invitation to believe in the Bible’s happy ending. The idea that someone can actually defeat death, that someone can die and rise again is, well, too good to be true. But if it really happened, then we can begin to hope that the good news of the happy ending portrayed in the Bible can be true too.
We live in a postmodern world that discards any notion of absolute truth and any objective meaning to life. Yet so many of us laugh and cry in response to a movie like The Three Idiots. In the darkness of the movie theatre we still long for love and meaning in some perfect world. And we still believe in the existence of evil and want it to be defeated. And we still cry out to be saved.
Rev Dr Tan Soo-Inn is the Training Consultant and Chairman of Graceworks. Since 1985, Soo Inn has been journeying with people through his ministry of preaching/teaching, writing and mentoring. Please visit the Graceworks for more articles: http://graceworks.com.sg
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