It’s been years since the release of 3 Idiots, but the film still manages to leave us with a laugh and some tears, after every watch. And, why wouldn’t it? I remember – I was 9 and it was one of those films that we watched at the theatre, because back then it was an unsaid ritual to go out for a movie, every other month.
Even at an age, where I hardly understood most things, I was left teary eyed at almost three points, during the film. And one of them was Farhan’s confrontation with his father about becoming a photographer, not an engineer.
All these years later, it’s now that I understand why the character held back before telling his father what he actually wanted to do.
For one, children, especially desi children, carry a constant guilt of doing good and being the best. Even if our parents don’t directly say it, they expect something and see us a certain way. And, when we think of choosing a path, they might not approve of or didn’t see us taking – that makes us feel like we’re disappointing them. In Farhan’s case it was also the pressure of the society and the fact that his father wanted him to pursue engineering.
As someone who opted Science, that too by choice, I was constantly surrounded by the fear of what might be if I fail. I was an average student and also lost interest in the subject, along the way. And, as firm as I looked while telling my parents that I’m going to pursue Journalism instead – it was actually just a face that I put on. They were understanding about it. But, the overthinker that I am, I still wonder if they liked the choice that I made.
That’s the kind of internal pressure that builds when someone comes from a middle-class family or or have limited resources and need to build not just their own lives, but also, help improve their family’s.
In the scene from the film, Farhan finally gathers the courage to tell his father that he wishes to become a wildlife photographer. When his father questions him about how he’ll face people, telling that his son dropped out of engineering, Farhan says just the right things.
He mentions how people and what they might think doesn’t matter, because no one else gave him this life – of comfort and opportunities. Or more specifically, no one else gave up on things to provide for him.
When you grow up in a family that doesn’t come from a lot of privileges, you see your parents give up on things that they like, so that you can in-turn get something else that you love. And, you automatically learn to give up too, not because they expect you to. But, as an act you choose either out of guilt, or out of an innate sense of responsibility and gratitude… because someone else also sacrificed for you.
As a result, telling our parents that we are going to make a choice that makes us happy, seems selfish. Farhan came from a very similar place and didn’t only hold back because he was scared. Even after receiving the offer for his dream job, all he could think of was – abba nahi manenge. It meant that he was seeking his validation. It mattered to him that he accepts his choice.
When we are surrounded with the constant need of making the right choices, we either stand up and choose what we love – which can be very scary. Or, continue to do something that makes our parents happy. Even if that means, accepting a job that we do not like – to make a living.
While it seems simpler on paper – to do what you love, there’s actually no right or wrong here. It’s about doing what seems right, then.
The thing is, we can either be practical or choose what the heart wants. If we’re lucky, we get both. But in any case, no path makes us a bad person. And hopefully – ‘all will be well’, in the end.