Is Sonam Wangchuk really the inspiration for Phunsukh Wangdu, the famous character who preaches the value of knowledge, from the Bollywood movie 3 Idiots? Does Aamir Khan owe him an acknowledgment? Find out the incredible story behind Sonam’s work in Ladakh and how he is changing education in India. For the first time in 7 years, Sonam Wangchuk reveals the backstory to the connection.
Here is the full speech (transcript) of Sonam Wangchuk who reveals his story behind 3 idiots at Josh Talks.
“It is true, that I am upset”,
“I’ve often been asked if my school is the ‘3 idiots’ school,
If I am Phunsukh Wangdu,
I want to tell them No, I’m not Phunsukh Wangdu.
I am Sonam Wangchuk and I’m not a fictional character, I function in the real world.
And with my methods, I’ve been trying to reach out to the world to make India’s name prosper.
But, the journalists and youngsters often ask me… And, I wish I could say that I’ve got nothing to do with the film. But, that would be a lie. And, I never lie. Except, this one that I just said.
So, I’ll answer truthfully today.
And with today’s Josh Talk let’s end this topic once and for all. So, I don’t have to answer repeatedly the same questions.
This goes back to 2008 when CNN IBN decided to award us with the title of ‘Real Heroes’ for the work we’d done in Ladakh. I landed in Mumbai to receive that award. It was during that ceremony, when I got acquainted to Mr. Aamir Khan. I don’t usually watch films but, I’ve been a fan of Aamir Khan’s ‘Taare Zameen Par’. So, during a conversation I proposed an idea to him.
About, India and Pakistan About, India and Pakistan especially, Ladakh and Baltistan, on the borders the conflict and madness that has been going on, for controlling the Siachen glacier on which Rs 5-7 Crores is spent in a day. Is it possible to portray through the medium of a film that the two nations’ public, not the government or the army, if the layman comes to a solution and requests them to get aside and asks for the money being wasted to be utilized for the purpose of education Who knows, if this movement turns out to happen, for real.
Considerately, he heard me out. Later, during the conference they played a documentary about my work. And, the conversation ended there. As children, we were introduced to the concept of dying for your nation. While growing up in Ladakh, I’ve seen plenty of it. Although, I salute the people who gave up their life. But, in the 21st Century I believe we’re required to live for the nation instead of dying for it.
In Ladakh, at the Siachen glacier, a lot of mothers from both India and Pakistan have lost their sons. From what we earn, it is said that Rs. 5 Crore is spent on it, daily. On the other hand we’d be hanging our heads in shame if we look at the condition of the schools at the country’s border.
I wish that, together we could do something, such that the money that we spend on protecting a piece of land is rather spent on education. And, that’d be the best security, for the two nations.
For a long time now, I’ve been thinking on how we can spend our limited resources on proposing the idea of promoting education, in the two nations. After I watched ‘Taare Zameen Par’ I was hopeful we could bring this to the people’s notice, through a film’s medium.
I will be looking forward to the day when this happens. That will be a day I would like to give my life for, or live my life for.
Jived Akhtar: I’m never going to forget how beautifully he differentiated between life and death, it was heartfelt. A few months later, I left for France to learn the art of Earth Architecture. Then, during December 2009, I received a lot of e-mails from my friends and journalists. Saying that the film that has been released about my life is great. I was perplexed. The mails said, that they’ve shown my school in the film. So, I called my school to inquire. They told me that some people from the film industry visited but they were acting suspicious and hiding what the film was about. Also, we saw that they were going to bring in a lot of plastic waste, so we refused. And so, they shot the film in another school nearby. As I looked into the matter, I got to know that this happened in April 2008. The script of the film was being finalized then, and was to be shot in August 2008. Now I leave it to you to comprehend how I’m related to the entire fiasco.
But, I do not believe in the fictional world. Our country does not need more films. In India, we give way too much importance to Bollywood and Cricket. Whether it is about winning or innovating, we wish to achieve it only in our films. While we require it in our actual lives. I don’t quite have the time to ponder over these thoughts.
Although, I did think about writing to the makers of this film but, immediately after the film’s release I heard about this major conflict between Chetan Bhagat and the filmmakers about whose story it actually is. Then, I refrained from writing that letter for I did not want them to think that I want a compensation. Then, I waited for two years to write that letter because, under law, you’ve got to make a claim under the span of 2 years. As the wait ended, I did write to Mr. Khan about when we were first accustomed to each other and the film coming out. I haven’t received an answer, as yet. Neither have I been waiting for one. Because, I’ve got plenty of work and, I’m more interested in reaching out to the world and help make India prosper.
Source: Josh Talks.