SYEDA HAMEED | 4 JANUARY, 2015

PK On a Roll

The film "PK"


NEW DELHI: At the dismal end of a black year, there in one bright spot; Raj Kumar Hirani's Blockbuster film PK.

Something made me see this film on the first day. I am a film buff and a huge Aamir Khan fan but this is one that I saw not once but twice. It speaks to me of the times we live in like nothing else does.

An alien from a far off planet in the stratosphere lands on the earth having learnt about the human species. His mission is to conduct scientific research on this race which is purported to look like theirs. The film opens with spaceship landing and he emerging alone and naked with only a sparkling medallion round his neck. This is his remote control gizmo which will ensure his return to his stellar home. At a distance he sees a figure trudging through the sand dunes. Thrilled at the sight, he runs to him with a huge welcoming smile His first experience of the human race is that the fellow snatches the sparkling gizmo from his neck and jumps on a moving train leaving the alien stranded on the earth with no device to return home.

The film looks at our world through the lens of an innocent. Not being from the Earth, the alien can question anything and everything while in hot pursuit of his stolen 'saamaan'. And who should he appeal to but the one and only entity who everyone refers him to, god. First he must find that god, but which god? This small planet called World, he finds, is full of gods. Each god has its believers and its agents who are intermediaries running a gigantic karobaar. One by one he visits all the religious posts, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian; he goes to the famous shrines; he offers chadors at Dargahs, prasadam at temples, candles at altars; he wears stones on his fingers, threads on his wrists, taveez malas crucifix rosaries around his neck. He dips in holy waters of all religions. But no god comes to his rescue. So he prints ads for Laapata, the 'missing' gods, and plasters them around city walls. To avoid being beaten up he wears god stick ons on both cheeks to ward off the slaps. Thus he removes layer after layer of the hypocrisy of godmen of all faiths; his only instrument is his candor and fearlessness. In an opulent Durbar of one such godman, an elderly devotee is advised to undertake a perilous journey on foot to an ancient temple on a remote mountain and pray for a miracle to cure his paralyzed wife. The guru mantra is 'Bas kaam ho jayega'. The alien (who has by now acquired a name PK since most earthlings think he is drunk) asks why would a loving God prescribe such torture for his devoted follower instead of advising him to go home and look after the sick woman?

A team of young reporters and their maverick boss Cherry Bajwa (Boman Irani, excellent) project this happening on TV and the news goes viral across the country. PK gently questions and exposes the gross abuse of all religions by self appointed managers, in order to dupe innocent people who pay money and perform the most convoluted rituals to please various deities. The name of the game he says is to scare them enough so they crawl. To prove his point, he picks a spot where people are scared; a college campus where exams are being held. At the gate, under a tree he places a stone, smears it with red paste, sprinkles a few coins around and the game starts. Soon there is a line of students prostrating themselves and emptying their pockets. Here, says the alien is the business plan, the investment, and the returns, a perfect enterprise!

One poignant moment is when PK's most loyal friend Bhairon (Sanjay Dutt) is killed in a terrorist train blast. He picks up and hugs the red Mojri shoe, which is all that is left of his dear Bhaiaya. A certain terrorist group claims responsibility declaring that they would strike again, thus 'protecting their god'. The shoe comes to play when PK is challenged by the super godman in a much publicized TV debate Ek Sawaal Aur. The swami first declares him a Muslim imposter sent to destabilize the faith, virtually a Babar ki Aulad. 'We the bhakts are perfectly capable of protecting our gods'. The alien's words wipe forever the smirk on his face 'you dwellers of a little dot of a planet in the celestial antariksh, from your tiny perch dare say you can protect the God who has created all this or more. Stop protecting God else your entire race will blow up and all that will remain are piles of mojris!'

PK has the country on a roll. People are using social media to expose the rot that has set in all faiths. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus are now as naked as PK was when he landed. Finally the super swami who had the world in a spin is forced to return the stolen remote control which he was passing off as the jewel from Lord Shiva's necklace (Shivji ke dumru ka manka) around which the fanciest temple was proposed to be built to make their business flourish.

This film is a resounding blow for all those who misuse religions for their personal gains. It is for this very reason that the demand for its banning has been raised by the very people it exposes. In Lucknow Bajrang Dal and VHP has demanded its banning. In Agra they are tearing posters and vandalizing movie theaters. So also in Allahabad. Hindu Janjagriti Manch has demanded a ban and entity called Hindu front for Justice has filed a PIL. But the best howler is the protest from the Maulana of Firangi Mahal who has aligned with the Hindu groups to make noises about freedom of expression not meaning hurting religious sentiments. 'If a movie had material that hurt religious sentiments specially when it is acted by a Muslim Amir Khan, who plays a Hindu character, it could be taken otherwise'. One may ask the venerable Maulana, if he thinks aliens are Hindus or could they be Muslim?

The best stance has been taken by the chair of the Central Board of Film Certification in refusing to make a single cut after having issued their certificate. Let those who have objections stay away.

In this country where people live and die for Bollywood films, here is a film really worth living and dying for. Kudos to the whole team and a good beginning for 2015.

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