By Soumya Raj:
2014 was a good, an almost daring year for films. Starting off with Highway, Dedh Ishqiya, and Ankhon Dekhi to Sulemani Keeda, Queen, Haider and the quite rib-tickling Filmistaan. I’m going to be completely honest, PK is one of the bluntest and most hard-hitting films I’ve watched recently coming from Bollywood, joining the above list.
Directed by Raju Hirani, the movie is an entertainment with a message that confronts the age old question, “Did man create God, or did God create us?”
[Spoiler Alert] Read further at your own risk if you haven’t seen the movie yet.
An alien lands in the middle of nowhere in Rajasthan, naked as a baby and about as clueless as one too. His first encounter with the earthlings happens to be that of thievery, when the remote which is required to send a signal back to his spaceship is snatched by a man. PK is perplexed by this greeting and carries on naked, save for the antique radio he snatched back in exchange from the thief. Sanjay Dutt in the movie is a friend to PK who saves him and takes him in as a good samaritan, but of course he is the one who pushes him off with his tractor first. There on, PK’s quest to discover earth begins, and so does ours through his perspective. The plot of the film is nothing new, in fact it will remind many viewers of Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal’s Oh My God, only Hirani handles this issue way better than Umesh Shukla did. PK observes how the earth’s various issues, like gender, sex, love and the most salient of them all – religion, are probed and approached with a biting naïveté. Examples – fashion is different for men and women (a coat and a ghaghra makes him the laughingstock of the village), love happens only between men and women (Sanjay Dutt, or Bhairon Singh snaps PK’s hand away when he tries to hold it), and how a same picture can have different meanings on different papers; one currency, and the other trash. A prostitute in the movie is treated like a person and not as a sex-machine – well, the movie will surprise you. It is free from the usually demeaning stereotypes of other block-busters.
After travelling to Delhi and upon being scoffed by people to ask God about his locket there, (mujhe kya pata, bhagwaan se pooch), PK begins his search for God. PK’s innocence in his quest for God exposes a poignant and shameful picture of religion’s divisiveness, its selfishness and business in religion. He discovers different religions, observes how different religion has different Gods, different customs, different “managers”, and how religion is thrust upon us by birth – it is almost a form of identity for humans on earth, at one instance PK searches a newborn’s body for religion’s “thappa”. It is heart breaking to see PK follow all religions with blind dedication to get his remote back, going to various places of worship, and then eventually crying and questioning a few idols to answer him. His search for his locket eventually turns out to be a search for God. A happenchance with Anushka Sharma (Jaggu Sahni), a journalist, and a few coincidences later, he manages to convince her about his actuality, who promises to help him out of his problem and at the same time sees a potentially stirring story in him. His simplistic logic of his understanding of God pulls the entire nation into a debate of faith vs consumerism in religion. Losing his only friend Bhairon Singh in a bomb-blast by a group of religious fanatics (the religion of the bombers is never overtly mentioned), Aamir is shaken. In his uniquely simpleminded and uncorrupted manner, he dismantles Tapasviji’s longstanding reputation, exposing him to be an obscenely rich, greedy, shrewd and communal Godman on live TV, and for a moment, you really wish why we don’t yet have a PK in our country.
Aamir Khan’s blank, bulging-eyed stare doesn’t look quite extra-terrestrial as it looks forced at some places. It also somehow feels like a déjà vu to those who have seen Aamir’s previous movie Dhoom 3; his style is similar to the socially anxious twin in the movie, maybe stretched a tad further in PK. Despite this, he manages to melt your heart like a tab of butter. Anushka Sharma’s emotional scenes are pretty tepid compared to Aamir’s bold acting. There is Sarfaraz (Sushant Singh), the humble Pakistani poet-architect who we would’ve loved to see more of but the story demanded his presence only sparingly. Sanjay Dutt fits into his role like a glove, and so does Boman Irani and Saurabh Shukla. The cast of PK is made up of strong actors; it’s just that the movie is more issue-based than plot-based, and they did all the justice to it that they could. Also, kudos to Aamir Khan and Boman Irani for the humorous condom scene. The comic timing in the movie of all the characters is impeccable. The VFX is better than most of the crap Bollywood churns out. However, it is pretty easy to notice that the spaceship scene is repeated twice in the movie, once in the beginning and then in the end. The script is well written and most of the dialogues coming from PK are darts shot straight to the bull’s-eye. The songs are sweet and mellifluous, much like all of Hirani’s movies have.
PK will tug at your heart. It will make you laugh. It is unbiased and straightforward. It exposes our scathing drawbacks to us. We are a world driven largely by diversity. Identity doesn’t as much unite us as our miscellany divides us, and in this whole charade of religion, gender, creed and race, we often forget that we are all but humans meant to stand by each other, and not against. The movie is not genius or bold in any manner, however, the only thing bold about it is the message it gets across – of questioning, of a revolution, a reprisal against a million horrible things we are doing to ourselves as a society, the unbecoming nature of our selfishness where faith is measured on terms equal to money and expediency. In this bargain, the cheapest are human lives, and the best do-away? – our conscience and ethics.