From Paper to the Reel : Three Mistakes of my Life vs. Kai Po Che!

I am super excited to launch this new category on my blog, that I like to call – “From Paper to the Reel”. I’ve noticed over time while working on my blog that there are so many movies that are an adaptation from bestselling novels. I’ve always gone ahead and read the novels too, and I’ve reviewed them on my blog too, but at one point I decided we need to know what’s different from the book and the movie and what could possibly, be better! And that’s how this category came up. Obviously I would love to point out every tiny little detail of difference between the original work and it’s adaptation. I will try my best to keep it as detailed as possible, but if I have missed something, please do let me know in the comments!

This post would be on the famous 2008 novel by Chetan Bhagat – “The Three Mistakes of my life” and it’s film adaptation “Kai Po Che!” which was released in 2013. Also this post will contain spoilers, since we are going into details and specifics. If you wish to read spoiler free reviews of either the book or the movie I’ve linked them in this paragraph, you can go ahead and click and read!

The Basic Plot

A snip of the cover from the novel

The plot centres around three young men who live in Gujarat, a state in Western India. They are Govind, Ishaan and Omi. Govind, a good student who teaches the kids in the area dreams of doing a business and making it in life and succeeding financially. Ishaan is the playful one of the lot and spends most of his time on cricket, supposedly India’s favourite sport that’s sometimes even termed as India’s biggest religion! Omi meanwhile is a person who doesn’t seem to be too opinionated or with too many aspirations and just loves to hang out with his two best friends.

A snip from the official movie poster

Deciding that they need to work out a plan together, they decide to start a sports club in the temple grounds with the help of Omi’s maternal uncle Bittu Mama who is an active member of the local political and religious party scenes. They build a shop selling sports goods where Govind teaches students and Ishaan trains their students in cricket.

Over time Ishaan requests Govind to teach his younger sister Vidya as well for an upcoming exam while Ishaan has found a cricket prodigy in a young boy called Ali. Bittu Mama is meanwhile on the move to seek returns for the favor he did to the boys as he needs work to be done for the party.

The story then revolves around how the three friends overcome the strains fromthe disasters they face as they try to pursue their dreams along the way.

Book versus Movie

Omi and his role in the climax

From left to right Amit Sadh as Omi and Digvijay Deshmukh as Ali (from the movie)

The main difference between the book and the movie can definitely be brought back down to one character – Omi. The Book maintains Omi as a no-opinion kind of person until the very end. There were no rash or shocking scenes or growth in character for Omi at all, until the point in the book where he gets stabbed by Bittu Mama as he tries to kill Ali.

The Book however shows an Omi who changes under the influence of Bittu Mama. We see him start to participate in the rallies and riots , slowly indicating a shift in his character (and therefore better character development) as it finally culminates in the climax of the movie.

And that brings us to –

The actual climax

The most striking difference between the book and the movie is honestly one main point and that’s how the movie ended or the final scenes in the climax.

In the end of the novel, Bittu Mama amidst the rage of the riots happening at the time the novel ends sets out to attack Ali with a trishul of all things. He is stopped by Omi, which results in Omi’s death much to Bittu Mama’s shock. Ali is injured from the incident and goes abroad to recover.

The movie tells us a different story, where Omi, an active participant in the rallies md riots arrives with a gun while Ishaan and Govind are fighting about Govind’s relationship with Vidya. They pause the fight trying to contain a violent Omi who is set to find Ali who is on the run after Ali’s father was killed by Bittu Mama in the riots. The scuffle leads to Ishaan taking the bullet for Ali and dying. Omi is subsequently in shock (a nice scene and performance by the way) and is subsequently jailed while Govind and Vidya marry and name their child Ishaan in his memory. Omi on his release from jail asks for forgiveness from Vidya and is forgiven while Ali who is unscathed in the movie walks to the pitch for an international cricket ODI.

Other minor differences

From left to right Rajkummar Rao as Govind and Amrita Puri as Vidya (from the movie)

There are of course many other minor differences that would naturally appear when movies are adapted from novels. Such as the fact that Vidya’s and Govind’s relationship was so much more fast paced and lacked detail in the movie than in the book. Also in the book the sports club was called Sabarmati Sports Club but in the movie it was changed to a more generic name like India Cricket Club.

Also the novel starts with the author Chetan Bhagat receiving a suicide note from Govind via email which led to CB finding Govind in Gujarat. The movie doesn’t cite any instance like that at all.

So, which one is better?

From left to right, Sushant Singh Rajput as Ishaan, Amit Sadh as Omi and Rajkummar Rao as Govind (from the movie)

Now see, this is a tough one.

Compared to usual movie adaptations, the movie actually stuck onto the book as close as possible which is rare when we see how bestseller novels have become movies later on. This may have been a result of Chetan Bhagat himself being one of the screenplay writers. The book and the movie only have one actual difference between them, that being the climax.

Another point we usually feel is that the novel almost always is better than the movie as it tends to be more detailed and imaginative in our minds while the movie which rushes to tell the complete story in 2 hours wouldn’t come up as detailed or as much as we imagined them either.

Considering these two factors, this is my verdict –

I preferred the climax of the movie over the book hands down and that’s due to two reasons. In the book Omi dies at the hands of Bittu Mama and although there is a certain grief about it, its mostly Bittu Mama who is in more pain and shock than the others. This pain wasn’t relayed to us either because as I mentioned Omi’s highlight in the book was that one moment when he jumped in for Ali and died. There was no satisfactory progression in his character in the book. Whereas in the movie, Omi changes and becomes an actual problem, which he only realises when his best friend dies due to his error in judgement of what’s right and wrong. That unwrapped and related to me as the audience way better. Also Ishaan dying was sad, but his sacrifice when he had no role in the communal riots at the time shows that it’s always the innocents who are casualties when such things occur.

However, there are two contrasting views that I mentioned in the review for the book amd the novel respectively.

I felt the novel had a very detailed intro and buildup but a rushed ending. Whereas the film had a rushed intro and buildup but a well done ending.

And this brings me to my final point – the story as it is a typical mix of friendship, politics, religion and cricket that are a tried, tested and proven mix that makes a good story for the Indian audience. Therefore the highlight for me definitely sticks with the climax rather than how the story built itself up. And I’ve also seen a video clip from.the movie release where the author, Chetan Bhagat himself says that participating in the screenplay writing for a movie based on his book actually gives him a chance to improve the story, which is why he believes the film is better!

Which is why, considering all these points, for this Paper to Reel comparison, it’s the movie that wins!

Have you read the novel and watched the movie? What do you think? Let me know in the comments!


  1. […] The movie is actually based on the novel by Chetan Bhagat titled – “The Three Mistakes of my Life”. Bhagat himself helped work on the screenplay as well for this movie. If you wish to read more on the novel you can click here, or if you want to read about the differences between the novel and the movie, and which I liked better, you can click here! […]

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