I made a pilgrimage of sorts the other day, although it was an accident. I accompanied my partner to a conference at the Indian Institute of Management for a conference he was attending on design, mobile telephones, and mobility. (Check out USID–the sponsor of the conference–and especially its Gurukul program for students.) I just went to see what the campus looked like. But as we drove inside my fiancé remembered that one of my all time favorite movies, 3 Idiots, was filmed there. (The top photograph of me is in front of the water tower where a few of the infamous scenes of the film take place.)
I love this film not only because it is highly entertaining and heartwarming, but also because it represents the best critique of education, not only in India, but globally too. Incidentally, Aamir Khan, who stars in 3 Idiots, also stared in and directed Taare Zameen Par, which is another amazing film about education at the elementary level. It’s also well worth watching.
I walked around campus a bit–its quite large and feels more like a botanical garden than a university campus. The landscape design is gorgeous. But the architecture of the campus buildings is not particularly enthralling. What the landscape designers, I imagine, did was to compensate for the oppressive style of the buildings by planting flowers and trees all over the place so that it is filled with green and a stunning array of colors (see photo gallery below).
I also attended a couple of sessions, which turned out to be in the same auditorium as the one used in 3 Idiots when the character Chatur (AKA the Silencer) demonstrates his idiocy when he memorizes a speech in Hindi (because he grew up outside India and is not fluent). His classmates changed some of the words so that he would make a fool of himself before his professors and peers (see above videos–the second one presents it with a bit of context to show you how they pulled the prank). The image above of the head of USID speaking shows Chatur on the screen behind him; there is also one of me in the audience above. Below is a scene that takes place in a courtyard (photo of it in the gallery below) and it is one of the fabulous opening scenes that show you how the protagonist, Rancho, challenges the educational system. A second one, also below, is equally brilliant.
But the classic scene in the movie is of the amazing song “Aal Izz Well,” which is shot all over the campus so you can compare my photographs with it while enjoying the song below.
On an entirely unrelated note, but worth noting nevertheless, yesterday before going to the conference here was a headline in our local Bangalore paper:
A top scientific panel of the government has favoured introduction of more genetically modified crops in the country under strict regulatory supervision because of the technology’s “transformational potential” in benefiting Indian agriculture.
This idiocy must be counteracted with Vandana Shiva once again. A reminder, first, of an interview with her in the Guardian the other day, which deals with this very issue. But more importantly, her organization, Navdanya, is organizing something called Seed Freedom, which people from around the world can participate in October 2-16. That’s a great way to work towards making sure that aal izz well with the global food system.