Are You Becoming What You Do Not Admire?


I was reflecting today on the movie “3 Idiots”, arguably the greatest movie hit in India (the Idiots are called so because they do not fit convention, not because they are dull or lazy).

We see one Idiot who grows up over the course of the movie to develop a spine, to get courage and confidence to do the right thing, to be honest and truthful no matter what the stakes.

We see a second Idiot who throws convention out the door, rebels to pursue his real passion in face of opposition, driven by the quiet conviction of one who knows where his happiness lies.

We see a third Idiot who cuts all superficiality and goes straight to the core – the real thing which matters is what we are inside, how we continuously learn and upgrade our soul, capability and knowledge, and how we use it to benefit those around us. All else is superficial.

We also see a fourth Idiot who appreciates goodness and simplicity, and rejects vacuous wealth and its promise of branded happiness – a “X lakh ki ghadi Y lakh ki sherwani” – for something different.

During the movie, most of us find something to admire in these characters, relating more to one or the other.

And then we see a clever person – Chatur. Chatur flashes his designation – “Vice President”. He states his location proudly – “USA”. He grandly states name of the company he works at. He shows photos of his mansion and car. He reels off statistics about his income, and its relative proportion. He is competitive, and enjoys making others feel bad about themselves. Belittling others is his way of elevating himself.

Most of us do not see ourselves in him. We do not admire him. We do not want to be like him. We walk out of the theater pretty sure of ourselves and what we are. If someone were to run a survey, you would be a combo of the Idiots, with not a droplet of Chatur.


Now let’s face the mirror, and find out who we really are.

Last I checked, here is what a typical young software engineer, or indeed every “educated” person, wants: More salary and income. A fancy designation. Works at “MNC”. Relocates to USA. Puts others down to get ahead. Big house, big car. And s/he wants to put all of it up on social networks – lemme take a selfie! – for others to envy.

Wow – look at those points! Think about it for a minute. Through our desires, which match absolutely exactly what Chatur did, we have made Chatur a model for ourselves! We admired the Idiots in our minds, but in our actions we are pursuing Chatur – ah the sweet ironies of life.


Why really do we want to become Chatur? Does education make us sheep of a herd, instead of humans who can think different? Is growing up a process of discovering our uniqueness to enjoy its flowering, or is it a process of learning what is expected and fitting in to convention?

When our heart yearns for goodness and simplicity, for improving our inner self and capabilities, when our heart pursues contentment and truth, when our heart knows what makes us happy and brilliant, when our heart admires the core and rejects the superficial – when our heart knows all these things and is there to guide us – why then do we allow our head to rule?

Is it a desire for the safe choice, the loss of innocence, the development of rationale? The loss of our selves?

What do Idiots have in their hearts, which lets them overrule the head? Courage. Courage for mischief, courage for fun, but more importantly – courage to stand up for the right thing. To stand away from the crowd, sometimes alone. To get to the core of things. To do stuff that matters.

Think about yourself for a minute. Did you admire Chatur, or one of the Idiots? Which life do you want to lead? And where are you headed? While you grew up, did you sacrifice your individuality at the altar of convention, did you lose your courage?


Today, ask yourself: are you becoming that which you do not admire? And what is it that you DO admire?


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  • Ratan

    Good Analysis !! So many valid thoughts. But I think there is a very
    important point that we may consider is a big share of all these thought
    goes to the so called “Movie Effect”.

    In the movie it looks awesome what ever the lead does. If he robs we
    connect to him, if he kicks well, we kind of want to do it etc. And so
    NOT happened for the victim “Chatur” here.

    By pursuing all these points [big car, home, US, designation, income,
    and put them in your networks] that Chatur did, I really don’t find
    that a typical young software engineer
    is trying/will be a model of him. The thin line that separates
    them from Chatur is, the purpose of doing that, which is to envy others.

    It is about living for yourself or for others. If you do pursue for
    stuff that you feel good about, and you don’t do anything wrong to get
    it, you can be a Great Idiot.

    • Chinmoy Panda

      What we pursue is our individual choice. There is nothing wrong in pursuing everything that Chatur pursued. We are nobody to pass good-bad right-wrong judgment on anyone else.

      Why we pursue it – unknowingly because it is expected from us (where our individuality is lost) or because we intrinsically desire it (where our individuality blooms) – is the question.

      When we pause and ponder, we may find our inner self.

  • Hem Dutt

    Yes we all hate Chatur.. Well everyone wants to be a hero in their life, So in heart we all want to become Rancho rather than Chatur.
    But if we analyse through movie, we will see that Chatur is a stage in everyone’s life and to become a Rancho one need to go through a transformation from Chatur to Farhan and then to Rancho.

    Moreover, only a successful person can boast that he has made his own path.
    A failed person can’t say that.
    Imagine if Farhan had failed and end up having a small time marriage photographer we would be considering him a fool.

    That’s life… No one traverse the same path. Everyone wants to have a voyage from mind to heart but whether the person reach to it’s heart or not and in how much time depends on the path he takes and what he is willing to lose.

  • Sathyan Reddy

    Excellent write up, as always. Originality is a dying virtue, even if someone has the courage to stand up for what they are and what they want to do, social pressure and sentiments makes them change, at least in a typical Indian family. Sometimes it does take more than courage, to even antagonize the near and dear, at least for a short while. The minute we lose our identity, we lose ourselves! Yes, sadly the norm today is to be Farhan outside and Chatur inside. it is time we grow a spine, we stand for what we truly believe, inside out.

  • Vinoth Raj

    To get a clarity on what one wants to become is the toughest part!
    That was on a lighter note! 🙂

    These days, especially in a rural setting, people engaged in materialistic (Chatur) talks has become a common sight.

    Long time back, somewhere, I read three lines that got impressed in my mind forever…

    Small minds talk about people.
    Average minds talk about events.
    Great minds talk about ideas.

    These days it is a rare sight to see people who talk about creativity, ideas, and such constructive stuffs, among others.

    There are two kinds of people I often meet:
    The first kind is the one with whom I am often driven towards and impressed. These people (sometimes closely) candidly confess … “kuch life mein karna hai yaar…”.

    And then the second kind…who put a blunt question when they meet… “kab job change kar raha”. — they turn you off!

  • Sucharita

    Taking risks is not everyone’s cup of tea.. for every unconventional step taken, a hundred conventional mouths criticize… unless that is taken constructively, taking risks is self-demolishing.
    Being conventional is also a curse since in that case, we seem to have everything, but with introspection, we secretly rue the loss of our precious life as time passes by and we are left with nothing.
    A balanced approach will be the right one will turn down the privileges bestowed upon chatur, eventhough we criticize him publicly(Human Hypocrisy!), but at the same time very few people have the grace to not throw their weight around when they have a chance…