Hold the scissors: PK plays safe, doesn't challenge religion

  • Khimi Thapa, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 02, 2015 23:34 IST

PK should be panned for no reason other than that it is a badly directed film. In the film, Aamir Khan, who is in the title role and plays an alien and ridicules the commercialisation of religion and questions godmen, calling them the managers of religion. Khan's magnificent talent carries the day and makes it bearable to sit through the two-and-half-hour movie. While Raju Hirani's incoherent film PK doesn't question the very existence of god, it does question the existence of godmen. Nothing new there. All those who have seen Paresh Rawal-starrer 2012 film OMG: Oh My God! will agree.

Those who have seen Hirani's earlier films would also agree. While in Lage Raho Munna Bhai we have seen Abhishek Bachchan's character defying his 'religious' father to marry a manglik girl, in 3 Idiots Sharman Joshi's character is shown throwing his astrological gemstone rings into a hospital bedpan. And those who noticed these subplots expected Hirani not to play safe (using humour as a defence mechanism) but to ask real tough questions and take the narrative to the next level. But then he gives into the exigencies of a Bollywood formula film and puts a Hindu-Muslim-alien love triangle with dream sequence songs (as if we didn't have enough of vampire-werewolf triangles). And he asks banal and unimaginative questions: If god has created us, why does he want us to suffer? For shock-and-awe purposes, there are scenes where Khan's character is seen offering a 'pooja ki thali' at a church service and attempting to enter a mosque with bottles of wine. He questions rituals like offering milk to the Shivlinga. But he ends up offering no solutions.

The real problem with the film is that it suffers from the Arvind Kejriwal syndrome — all politicians are thieves, all godmen are thugs. The only way to connect with god is to remove the middlemen. This sweeping generalisation is problematic and is played on a loop, without taking the argument further. As Mahatma Gandhi said there are as many religions as there are individuals. The film hardly focuses on individual faith (not religion). While there are those who find solace in visiting places of worship or following their gurus, there are those for whom atheism in itself is a faith (again not religion). PK and OMG do not leave the door open for these discussions.

Though there have been bold films like Pankaj Kapoor-starrer Dharm, which received the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration in 2007 but was not received well at the box office, film makers stay clear of a subject as polarising as religion. Thus, the only good thing that PK has done is that it has made the subject of religion mainstream in the same manner in which Dostana, which was flayed for its caricature of a portrayal of gay men, made homosexuality a little less of a taboo.

Last, but not the least, Hirani needs to answer one very important question. Why does PK, the paan-chewing alien, eat only carrots?

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