The 2009 Bollywood film “3 Idiots” is one of the two movies (the other being “Evan Almighty”) that had me really laughing in every sense of the word while shedding buckets of tears at the same time. Crazy, right? But aside from that, it is the only Indian film that has allowed me to see what real beauty India is hiding within its 3,287,590 square meters of land. How often do we see an Indian-themed movie not set within the overpopulated cities, crowded slums, rat-infested suburbs, cramped marketplaces and train stations with poverty, elephants, and the Taj Mahal figuring prominently in the film. Not so much, I think.
If you’ve seen the movie yourself, there is no way you wouldn’t have noticed the stunningly beautiful Indian landscapes that figured prominently in the film – tall cliffs, lush greens, glittering desert sands and crystal clear waters. But what really captured my attention was the seemingly unadulterated mountain range and pristine blue waters in the final scene where Pia (Kareena Kapoor), riding a motorcycle, meets his long-lost love Rancho (Aamir Khan) for the first time after ten years of longing and the 3 Idiots were finally reunited after his sudden disappearance.
Here are a few screen captures from that sequence in the film. Click on the image and the proceeding pages for enlarged views.
That was the Pangong Tso or Pangong Lake. It is a long stretched lake in the Himalayas extending its 134 kilometers length from India in its eastern end to Tibet (China) in the west. According to Wikipedia, it is an endorheic lake which supposedly means there is no access to other streams such as the seas or the rivers and the water reserve comes purely from rainfall and other precipitations and the water level and salinity is being constantly maintained by evaporation however, the very same page mentions two streams feeding it from the Indian side of the lake.
Pangong Lake is composed of brackish water, a typical characteristic of an estuary where a partially enclosed body of water is being fed by a fresh water stream and has an open access to the sea.
Too much contradictions, right? But let us leave that with the experts.
Although the film has only presented the lake in what seemed to be summertime, reports says the lake acts as a breeding grounds of migratory birds during the migration periods and the water completely freezes during winter despite its having saline water reserve. I can only imagine what more of a picturesque sight it could be during those seasons.
Pangong Lake is open for tourists during the months of May to September and it can be accessed with a four to five-hour drive from Leh which is connected to Delhi by regular air flights. And as the lake lies on the Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control, Inner Line Permit is required which can be obtained by Indian nationals as individual permits but a group permit may also be obtained by foreign travelers of a least three persons with an accredited tour guide.
“3 Idiots,” through careful use of humor, sarcasm, and human compassion to tackle sensitive but universally relevant issues in the education system, has successfully captured the hearts of both local and international audiences. It dared and had successfully reached out to the international market and had kept the basic elements of a Bollywood film which includes, but not limited to, the ever effervescent song and dance numbers. Now the melody of “Zoobi Doobi” will be forever etched in my mind and no amount of uninformed critics will be able to easily shake it off.