Monday, December 29, 2014

The PK Controversy

My posts have been dwindling in number these days, and I hardly have time to blog about movies. But this movie did it - PK!

To begin with, let me make it clear - this is not a PK movie review. That the movie has had rave reviews is no news any more; nor is it anything strange that Aamir Khan's movie has been raking in the money for its producers. And it would be utterly unremarkable to state that Rajkumar Hirani has again succeeding in tickling the funny bone in an absolutely subtle way.

But is that the only feat that he has achieved subtly? Here are a few questions to ponder when you have come out happily after watching the latest Aamir Khan starrer.

The movie is named PK. Can you think of any country that is associated with the letters PK?

There are many instances featured in the movie ridiculing Hindu religious practices. The movie is supposed to be driving sense into people, against superstition and the negative tenets of religion. If this is a secular movie as it is projected to be, why have all religions not been equally depicted? Why is Hinduism being meted out special treatment in a movie that parodies religion per se?

We all know how neutral, genuine, secular and impeccable NDTV's reporting is. So, why would NDTV rate PK 5 stars?

Is every situation in the movie justified? One of the scenes that has stirred up controversies, for instance, features an artiste posing as Lord Shiva, getting caught up with the alien Aamir Khan in the loo, and trying to escape the menacing alien by running away from him, desperately seeking help. Would Rajkumar Hirani have had the guts to depict the divine messengers from other religions in this fashion?

The movie plot exposes a Hindu religious leader's chicanery. The movie also proclaims that not every Pakistani is a defaulter. So, why does it not take the pain to clarify that not every Hindu preacher is a conman? And how about preachers of other religions?

PK asks for answers from every Hindu idol and finds no response. Could he have also prayed to every other religious place and displayed his despair? Could he have also posted pictures of missing Gods other religions? Was that so difficult to depict in a self-professed secular, rational movie?

Yes, there are mentions of "building the temple", there are references to terrorism, conversion, etc. But they are fleeting, superficial, and lacking in depth. Of course, the entire story-line of PK lacks depth, with a simple agenda of maligning and ridiculing one cultural group, while seemingly embracing the message of love against separatism. But why has the message not been equitably distributed across all cultural / religious groups?

Is it because the reactions to such misadventures would be so enormous that the very release of the movie could be jeapordised if other religious practices were ridiculed to the extent that Hinduism has been taken on in this movie? Is it because Hinduism has become a soft target that could take any amount of beating and thrashing, or is it because of some ulterior motive?

There are many better ways of spreading the message of religious harmony than this increasing trend of Hindu-bashing. And it may not just end there. There is a depiction of an elderly Sikh man who lies for the sake of his wife's luxury, a scene that is complete out of context and unwarranted.

PK, when he discovers that not every Mahatma Gandhi's picture would get him the barter, throws Gandhi's pictures on the ground, littering it around one by one. Could there have been a better way of doing that than in a way that could be seen as desecrating the Mahatma?

While everyone in India has been portrayed in a bad light (apart from Anushka Sharma, who happens to be the only person to give money to PK the alien than take money), the embassy officials in Pakistan have been shown to be one lovely lot, peaceful and harmonious, sweet and jubilant.

So, that brings us back to the first question: The movie is named PK. Can you think of any country that is associated with the letters PK?

That makes us think further - who is funding Bollywood? After all, a director would want to thank his producer. Subramanian Swamy's tweet aptly questions the funding part of this controversial PK.

PK, the movie, is not just satire. It is not just cheeky in its stated message. It is not just subtle in spreading the message of peace and harmony. To the contrary, it has only stirred up religious sentiments, particularly among the Hindu and Sikh communities. PK is one more of those cunning narratives that camouflages as harmless expression of art, delivering a vicious stab at a culture and belief system, with a knife coated in humour and innocence.

So, Aamir Khan, Rajkumar Hirani, and the crew involved in producing PK, here is the bottom line: Spread the love, be equitable and stay positive. The world deserves better.