Get set for an epic take in the offing. This year’s most anticipated release, 3 Idiots, has a running length of close to 3 hours. Taking audiences through different locations in the country and across time zones, this Rajkumar Hirani film is in fact his longest ever when compared to his earlier two efforts – Munnabhai MBBS and Lage Raho Munnabhai.
“That’s true,” confirms Hirani. “Both the films in the Munnabhai series were under 2.5 hours. However, 3 Idiots required a longer duration. I am not worried about the length factor though.”
Well, even for audiences it should be pretty much the case of ‘ all izzz well‘. Longer stories, if told well, have traditionally worked quite well at the box office. Some of the biggest classics in the history of Indian cinema like Lagaan, Sholay and Mughal E Azam have all crossed the 3 hour mark. Yes, those were the times when only single screens ruled and hence the revenue earned through a larger number of shows wasn’t a criteria for a film’s length. However, the fact remains that the biggest ever grosser in the history of Indian cinema, Ghajini, lasted for a couple of minutes over 3 hours.
Says a trade follower, “I am aware of people’s expectations where they want to see more of an actor or a director, if their body of work over the years has been impressive enough. Remember those Amitabh Bachchan films in the 80’s? Or the ones directed by Subhash Ghai? Each of them was mandated to be magnum opus and it was an unwritten rule that their films have a running length of at least 3 hours. Similar are the expectations from an Aamir Khan film today.”
His comments do see good validation if one looks at every film that Aamir has done in the current decade. The running length of Dil Chahta Hai (180 mins), Lagaan (225 mins), Mangal Pandey (165 mins), Rang De Basanti (150 mins), Fanaa (170 mins), Taare Zameen Par (165 mins) and Ghajini (180 mins) has been close to 3 hours or even more.
“At the end of the day, it’s the story and the story telling that does the trick, not the film’s length. Yes, we have seen audiences rejecting What’s Your Raashee? due to its length of close to 3.5 hours but also because the film dragged at places. Seeing Hirani’s work over the years, the length is a non-issue and one truly believes and hopes that the screenplay holds audience’s attention. 3 Idiots is carrying great vibes, the holiday season is on and the festivities would be in progress well into the New Year. I don’t see any reason why anyone would even think about the length factor,” concludes the trade expert.