Saturday, December 20, 2014


Whose God Is It Anyway?
The subject is terribly pertinent, considering the madness being unleashed in the world, in the name of religion.  Rajkumar Hirani’s PK could have got his and his star Aamir Khan’s captive audiences to start thinking about the religious mafia, the way Lage Raho Munnabhai got the nation hooked to Gandhigiri. If it falls short, it’s because a great film was expected from Hirani, otherwise, it’s entertaining at least two-thirds of the way. 
With points borrowed from ET, K-Pax and Oh My God, Hirani fashions a funny and colourful film about an alien who lands on earth and has the ‘remote’ that connects him to his spaceship stolen.
 He figures out human traits on the way, though he cannot understand the language. He steals clothes and money from “dancing cars” (with couples making out in the backseat)... in a funny scene he figures out that a Gandhi photo can get him food, and tries to barter Gandhi posters with the vegetable vendor, till it dawns on him that the photo has to be on a currency note for it to work.
 A Rajasthani performer Bhairon Singh (Sanjay Dutt) helps PK, believing he has lost his memory, after being knocked down by his truck. To understand human speech, he needs to hold the hand of a person for a long time – no man lets him touch, and trying to grab the hand of various women gets him into trouble. Finally he gets “cooperation” from a hooker and so ends up speaks his pungent dialogue in Bhojpuri. (Later, he is seen writing a note in English, but in a Hindi movie, sab chalta hai).
 When he hunts for his remote, he is told only God can help him, so he goes in search of God—the best part of the film is here, when he stumbles from one religious edifice to another, but cannot comprehend the concept of religion and the various rituals associated with it. Everybody he questions, with perfect logic, brushes him aside with a  Peekay ho kya,” (Are you drunk?), so he acquires the name PK. 

He tells all this to TV reporter Jagat Janani aka Jaggu (Anushka Sharma), who promises to help him find his remote. The fact that she has a man from another planet living under her roof is not a scoop, a battle with a fraud (such a cliché) godman (Saurabh Shukla) is, because he has come upon PK’s remote and is pretending it’s a religious symbol that demands the construction of a temple. PK’s child-like questions and his quest for God is humorous even if the observations are simplistic. The fact is that everyone uses platitudes like ‘God is one and all religions are the same’ even when the tiniest perceived slight to their faith pushes people to violence.
Aamir Khan, with his odd bug-eyed, bat-eared look, does make PK a delightfully goofy character, and expectedly dominates the film. The TV reporter has become a bit of a stock character in films, and the entire media portion is half-baked; still, Anushka Sharma does the best she can with the role.
PK is worth a watch, and has Hirani’s signature blend of message wrapped in an entertaining package, but still, it leaves one with just a small twinge of disappointment. Lage Raho Munnabhai also used fantasy, but it was so well scripted that there was a perfectly plausible explanation for Munna’s encounters with Gandhi. Because PK is literally an alien, there is no room to manoeuvre there, and after a while the charm of the plot fails and Hirani paints himself into a corner when it comes to taking the story and the religious debate to a strong conclusion. The ending is weak and contrived (a TV debate of all things!) but the audience has perhaps got its share of laughs till then, and PK’s words of wisdom, so the film’s success is never in question.


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