There is definitely an unhealthy hardening of attitudes. The criticism of Hirani and Amir Khan is fair to some extent, but asking for a ban is absolutely stupid. In my opinion, no Film, Book, Painting .. or any other form of expression should ever be banned. This movie to me was a let down on the scale of good humor. I always thought, if one can carry the baton of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, it was Raju Hirani. This one is nowhere near Munnabhai and 3 Idiots. But one miss does not derail the career. I’ll be eagerly waiting for his next.
I am an out and out anti- censorship man. I believe in complete freedom of expression. The very presence of a Censorship Board is absolutely repugnant in a democracy. If a movie is disliked, the box office would show it. Neither Sunny Leone’s nudity nor Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘secessionism’ nor Amir Khan’s ‘anti-Hinduism’ can save it. I saw PK this Friday. Both the prejudiced critics like me and the liberal who opposes a ban irrespective of what the film contained (again like me) went wrong.
The freedom of expression must apply to all sorts of criticism of each and every sections, ideologies or religion for that matter. We all remember how “The Da Vinci Code” caused rage among Christians across the world. There was another book and a film called “The last temptation”, which caused a similar outrage. It portrayed Jesus as a man of doubts, lust and so on. When “The last temptation” was released in 1955, that book was also banned by the Catholic Church. The Greek Orthodox Church excommunicated its Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis. But yes, you should tolerate a movie which shows Lord Shiva in a toilet and then being chased. But it did not bother me much. Poking fun at God is alright; He dosn’t get offended like us humans.
What should concern us is that Christians would be outraging and Islamic warriors would have drawn swords and killed people if it were their religious figure instead of Shiva. I recall a movie called “Vishwaroopam” by Kamal Haasan had to gone through numerous cuts and re-released with apologies because Indian Muslims had problems with it. Then there is, of course, that American movie “Innocence of Muslims” on the life of Muhammad which caused world-violence and deaths. The Christian agitators wanted “The Da Vinci code” to carry a special note stating it is not a true story when such movies already declare they are “fictional”. Tolerance! They teach us that; don’t they? This double standard is both equally funny and sad. But that is where the difference lies.
PK is not an anti-Hindu film. It is rather a signature Rajkumar Hirani film with his unique quirks and a character who shows a fresh perspective at things. It begins well with Amir playing the role of a visiting alien, who is put on earth to gather intelligence. Robbed of his ‘remote’ as soon as he lands, he goes from city to city, trying to find it. How he views a world divided by religion is very fresh, and the comparisons he makes evoke unrestricted laughter from the audience. When PK is funny, it is up there with the best. Anushka looks ugly, so as to fit into a character of a moron urban Hindu reporter.
Then come the parts which are not too funny. Since PK is in India, he encounters Hindu deities mostly. One of the deities happens to be Lord Shiva. When he sees this Ramlila actor, he takes him for God and chases him to plead for his lost property. There is no insult inherent in the sequence at all. But very badly shot. Hirani did miss that religion gives way to religious politics, which just doesn’t work in a satire if so badly put.
And then the Pakistani love interest. My only annoyance was this part of the story. This was inserted, perhaps to irk Hindus troubled by ‘love Jihad” and cash on the the Pakistani lucrative market across the globe. Hirani is a savvy businessman so he knowingly ignored the negative scenario between the neighbors. The Indian (Hindu) girl falls in love with a Pakistani (Muslim) boy. Subsequent events separate them and the girl feels cheated. Towards the end in course of a television debate between ‘PK‘ and a Godman, Aamir Khan’s character asks the question, “Who put it in your mind that Muslims are unreliable?” This was absolutely uncalled for. For, the girl herself bears no such grudge against Muslims [the godman hadn’t said such a thing in the beginning either, while warning her she would be cheated. And then it turns out that the separation in the beginning of the story was a result of some misunderstanding. Proving muslims are actually not untrustworthy! This has got to be either funny or devious.
In an effort to be even-handed, Hirani shows a bomb blast (with the word ‘mazhab’ making an obvious reference to which religion was involved) that grims up things in the movie. It may have something to do with Aamir Khan playing the lead, because had he only been critical to Hindu religion, it would not have been very kindly received. (But that damage, apparently, has already been done). There was also no need to add other religions just for the sake of covering his ass. Paresh Rawal’s OMG exclusively looked at the Hindu religion for its satire and that was received very well. The practices of the Hindu religion with its Godmen, superstition and money-worship provide enough fodder, and at the same time they are not grim enough to darken the atmosphere. That is perfect for comedy and satire.
At the end, I would say .. it did not excite me much.