The quest for freedom has always been the main theme of most movie films nowadays. Whether it be a historical film about the Nazis and the struggles of the Jews, or an apocalyptical horror film about zombie invasions, the mission of the main characters from these movies are one and the same: to escape and rescue themselves.
And from there, I would always say how pitiful they are and how lucky I am that I’m not in their situation. As such, I would feel ever so blessed that I was born in my family and in this modern day and age where there are still no zombies around; and barbaric ways as those of Hitler seem no longer tolerable (as people in these contemporary times are more educated and there are a lot of organisations around the world, such as the United Nations, that promotes non-violence and world peace).
But the fact that there is still some kind of inequality in the world that allows some fortunate people to enjoy freedom while others are deprived of it bothers me so much that I am always led into contemplation on why the world is unfair sometimes. And so I would ask, why does it have to be that some people are free while others are not?
But from much thought and further pondering, I realize that everyone is confined and restrained just as imprisoned men are. Though we are not all in chains and in prison, we are all deprived of freedom, but in different degrees and fashion. Some are literally locked up in jail, while some are mentally or emotionally captive. While some people are inhibited from choosing what they want to be, some are controlled and restrained by their fears and anxiety.
And so there goes the question: are we, the so-called “free men”, really free? And if we are not completely free, is it ever possible for us to be free?
The movie 3 Idiots attempts to offer an answer to this by showing that it is possible to attain freedom amidst the constant pressures of the world. It doesn’t talk about freedom in a sense that people are literally behind bars or in the struggle of saving their own lives; but instead, it highlights events that can be relevant to virtually everyone in this modern age. It illustrates a story of a group of friends who were able to win their freedom and change the course of their lives through the help of one particular guy who always had the guts to do things differently: Chhote, or otherwise known as Rancho.
Rancho is the type of person who is easygoing and untroubled. He always made a point to remind his friends that “All is well” no matter how good or bad the situation is.
He is able to say this because he allows himself to be free and he doesn’t let any situation to overpower him. From this, we can say that Rancho is similar to Socrates in a way that he views life differently from ordinary people.
For instance, while his classmates are so concerned with their exam grades, Rancho is more concerned with whether he learns or not. As such, his love for learning had allowed him to ace his tests without being conquered by stress and pressure, unlike most of his friends and classmates. It is also his innate love for knowledge, which gave him the opportunity to take the place of the real Ranchhoddas Chhanchad to study all the way to college.
Because of his unusual attitude towards life, he was capable of breaking free from society’s standards and routines for the greater good of the people around him. In one instance for example, he drove Pia’s motorcycle all the way inside the hospital to save the life of Raju’s father, who is in an urgent need of hospitalisation. He did this without paying attention to what other people might say about him.
From much of Rancho’s ridiculously unusual actions, we can see how fascinating it could be if one can have Rancho as a friend. But someone like Rancho or Socrates seems like a one in a million since we can hardly find someone who is willing to look like an idiot in the eyes of society, in the course of breaking free from the currently accepted principles of the world.
More than that, reality-speaking, it is highly unlikely for anyone to wish for a friend that seems like a weirdo or an idiot to everybody else, given that it is our default mode as human beings to be concerned of our image and status because we think that these labels are of primary importance. And this idea had led me to say that it is actually our desires and attachment to the material world that hinders us from becoming free.
For instance, in the movie 3 Idiots, people tend to choose to end their lives when they feel hopeless with their situation. Because they’re so devoted into chasing their dreams, they don’t have the guts to stray away from the usual school routines in the fear of suffering consequences such as rustication from the university. As such, they tend to let their fears and failures to overcome them, forgetting that there is more to life than their current problems and struggles. This is the reason why one student chose to hang himself when Virus rejected his project, not knowing that he’s actually just one step closer to his graduation if only he didn’t give up.
In the same way, it is also our attachment to the material reality that inhibits us from maximizing our full potentials. For instance, Farhan and Raju have always been consistent in the bottom rank since they don’t have the peace of mind to focus fervently on their studies: Farhan is unhappy with the path which his father chose for him, while Raju is constrained by his anxiety and fears of the future. But despite this, Rancho was there to remind them to overcome their fears and face their trials. He emphasizes that all is well no matter what the situation is.
And this leads to the idea that freedom is not a situation. Though we might think that freedom is a matter of being in chains or not, or a matter of being constrained by difficulties or not, it is actually a matter of choice. Whether we are physically or mentally captive, our situation doesn’t dictate our freedom. Rather, it is actually our choice whether to break free or not to the situation that limits us is what actually determines our freedom. Certainly, Rancho was in the same position and setting with his peers, but he was the only one who was able to find joy despite all the hardships in engineering school. It is therefore our attitude towards the situation that allows us to be free no matter how intimidating and pressing the challenges are.
This brings us back to the question on what it takes to be truly free. Indeed, everyone of us have been facing battles in the struggle of attaining freedom, whether it be from our fears, our guilt, our worries, our illnesses, and/or our confinement. But the question of freedom seems to lie on whether we choose to be prisoners of our own situations. And so, the most important question comes in: if freedom is a matter of choice, how do we condition ourselves to remain free amidst the unending pressures and restrictions that the world gives?
Submitted to Mr. Wilhelm Strebel
Reflection Paper on 3 Idiots
May 2013 | 3.50/4.00
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