Actor Aamir Khan’s year-ender hit, PK, has broken box office records, but stirred the hornet’s nest just when Bollywood thought 2014’s share of troubles was over.
Several Hindu organisations are up-in-arms, staging ­protests, filing FIRs – over 20 till the time of going to press – demanding a ban against the movie. Reason? The ­supposed mockery of ­religion in the film, especially the depiction of Hindu Gods in a ­derogatory light.
"Religion has always been a sensitive issue in India. If you say things like, ‘Jo darta hai wo mandir jaata hai’, and show scenes like a man in the guise of Lord Shiva hiding for his life, then it is bound to spark a debate," says Ramesh Mishra, 29, a chartered accountant and movie buff.
Twitter user @shyamjgd wrote, "If a Hindu actor would hv done PK n mocked Islam the way dey mocked Hinduism,by now we would hv riots all across n d movie banned (sic)."
While prominent people, the latest one being BJP ­leader LK Advani, have watched and appreciated the film that has grossed over 182 crores in its first week itself, the wrath has resulted in not just tighter security ­outside cinema halls, but also clarifications from Aamir Khan, and the film’s director, Rajkumar Hirani.
"We respect all religions. All my Hindu friends have seen the film and they have not felt the same. Even Raju (Hirani) is Hindu, so is Vinod (Chopra; ­producer) and so is Abhijat (Joshi; scriptwriter). In fact 99% of the crew was Hindu. No one would have done such a thing", said Aamir in a statement, while Hirani has added, "We have not done anything for which people can tell we have deliberately hurt anyone’s religious ­sentiments. The core idea of the film is just that we are not born with a birthmark ­proclaiming we are Hindus or Muslims or Sikhs or Christians. It is just that like a baby is born without any pre-conceived notions and is made to follow a certain lifestyle and perform certain rituals, we decided to have Aamir as an alien, which meant he too did not have any idea or notions about what religion is here on Earth."
Many seem to agree. "Indian audiences lack sensibility and are quick to draw conclusions. This is not the first time that we have seen protests against a film which has defied norms," says Anubhav Sinha, 23.
"It’s important to understand the context and nuances of the film. I don’t think there’s a deliberate attack on any particular ­religion," says Sanjay Singh, 22, student.
Meanwhile, Leela Samson, chairperson of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), says, "In a country like India, there are bound to be ­differing ­opinions. Radical and ­liberal, ­indifferent and informed. Those who don’t agree should ignore it. Every Indian ­citizen does not have to see every film produced in the country."
Trade analysts say any publicity is good publicity for the movie at this point. "After ten days of the film release, it will atleast take five-six days for the court to give some ­verdict on the controversy. By that time, the film would have done its maximum business. These controversies will only boost the collections as people would be curious to see what it is all about," says trade expert Atul Mohan.