For once, the entire film fraternity has to applaud the robust stance taken by India’s Censor Board of Film Certification for not buckling under the pressure of the self-professed guardians of Hindu religion who are baying for a ban on Aamir Khan’s latest release, PK.

The irony of this insistence can’t be missed. Within 10 days of its release the film has already set a record at the box office collection —over INR 200 crores in the Indian market! So any claims by Yoga guru Baba Ramdev and some Hindu outfits that the film hurts the sentiments of Hindus referring to a particular scene of a stage actor attired as Lord Shiva, is in itself laughable.

Adding to this were the tweets by ruling political party BJP member and former Cabinet minister Dr Subramaniam Swamy who claimed that the film was funded by the ISI and some people from Dubai. Always a controversial politician, he got a lot of flak on social media for this claim.


From ET to PK, Bollywood gets its own popular alien


The audience knows that the film is a satire, and nowhere questions the existence of the Almighty. In fact, it goes on to raise questions about self-styled religious zealots exploiting the common fears of the public at large and the inconsistency among different faiths in regard to rituals, customs, dress etc.

Aamir Khan as PK. – Photo courtesy: filmibeat.com
Aamir Khan as PK. – Photo courtesy: filmibeat.com

After all it’s a Rajkumar Hirani film so naturally one expects it to be entertaining but at the same time talk about social issues. Remember his first three films — Munna Bhai MBBS and its sequel Lage Raho Munna Bhai, and then 3 Idiots? In PK, Hirani tackles the highly sensitive issue of religion, self-appointed men of God, their divisive religious practices and exploitations of people’s fears.

Expectations are very high of anything from the house of RHF (Raju Hirani Films). Sadly PK isn’t one of his best, but even with all its drawbacks, the last big release of the year is still far above the clutter of nonsensical cinema we have had in 2014 from Bollywood.

The film says something very relevant and after coming out of the theatre makes you want to discuss religion, faith and divine existence. Even if you are agnostic, the questions raised and tackled in PK makes you think, if not at an intellectual level, but at least at a Bollywood level.

One thing very laudable, and I really wish other script writers would learn from the duo of Hirani and his writing partner Abhijat Joshi, is precise script and dialogue writing. Except for a romantic unwanted song, there isn’t much one could have done away in the story.

I mean after all it’s a Hindi film and so songs and dances are important ingredients of it. That is one of the jarring notes of the film; why make an alien sing? Yes, the story is all about an alien (Aamir Khan) visiting planet Earth and trying to decipher the idiosyncratic behaviour of earthlings. He is bewildered by their actions, which makes him comment, “Hamri goley (planet) pe koi jhoot nahin bolta. Yeh pe to lul hoi gayi hamri life.”


Even with all its drawbacks, the last big release of the year is still far above the clutter of nonsensical cinema we have had in 2014 from Bollywood. The film says something very relevant and after coming out of the theatre makes you want to discuss religion, faith and divine existence. It makes you think, if not at an intellectual level, but at least at a Bollywood level


Anushka Sharma and Aamir Khan from a scene in PK. — Photo courtesy: koimoi.com
Anushka Sharma and Aamir Khan from a scene in PK. — Photo courtesy: koimoi.com

In the entire film Aamir speaks a Rajasthani dialect as unfortunately he lands from his spaceship on a remote desert strip of Rajasthan and he imbibes the local language. In his planet they don’t have any spoken language and instead mind-read each other by holding hands. Plus they don’t wear any clothes and hence he lands butt naked.

Don’t panic. No Full Monty scene here. Hirani knows the sensibilities of our Censor Board. A 1990 two-in-one tape recorder helps cover the unmentionables. Even this got a lot of pre-release ‘publicity’ protests for the poster of the film showing an almost-naked Aamir with a tape recorder.

As Hirani said in an interview, “I was amused when people complained about nudity. There’s no vulgar moment in the film. It’s a very interesting-looking poster that signifies the film.”

It’s this appearance — big, saucer-shaped green eyes, teacup handle ears, lack of any language plus nudity — makes people in the film ask, “Pee kay ayo ho?” Without understanding it, the alien abbreviates it to PK. He is introduced to the customs of our planet by a jovial good Samaritan, band master Bhairon Singh (Sanjay Dutt).

PK’s first encounter is with a man who steals his remote through which he can call his space ship, like our own taxis, to take him back home. In search of his remote, the alien travels through India and in turn gets exposed to the practices and doings of its people.

Incidentally, he lands up in Delhi and happens to meet a TV journalist, the bubbly Jagat Janani aka Jaggu (Anushka) who is desperately in search of a breaking news story. Jaggu has just returned from Bruges, a picturesque city in Belgium with a broken heart over a mistaken belief of being ditched at the altar by Sarfaraz (Sushant). She gets intrigued by the actions of PK and follows him.

Meanwhile, PK learns of God who is believed to solve everyone’s problems. He lands up at shrines of different faiths — temples, churches, mosques et al and ends up highly confused. As he says, “Humka laagat hai Bhagawan se baat kara ke communication system iss gola ka ek dum lul ho chukka hai!”

This quest at times is funny, sarcastic and also sad. Especially when he meets the self-proclaimed godman Tapasvi Maharaj (Saurabh Shukla) who has acquired PK’s remote and brandishes it as Lord Shiva’s blessings. To get back the remote PK needs to expose the Tapasvi as a fraud.

All the ingredients are right in place. Acting from the entire cast is great. Aamir as the alien doesn’t have too much to do but to wear the same expression throughout the film. The dialogues, his innocent-looking appearance and his make-up do it for him. Anushka and Sushant are good. Dutt is his usual jovial self. Boman and Saurabh walk through their roles. They have done this before.

In fact, the story too is a case of old wine in a new bottle — a reminiscence of 2012 Paresh Rawal and Akshay Kumar’s OMG. PK isn’t one of Hirani’s best and unlikely to be remembered for long. But the new controversy, which isn’t expected to last long either, may make it the biggest ever grosser of Indian films.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, January 4th, 2015

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