PK divides right wing

by Swarajya Staff - Dec 27, 2014 05:37 PM +05:30 IST
PK divides right wing

The film met with angry responses right after its release last Friday from the Hindutva brigade that was yet to see it. They reacted negatively to the images of an actor masquerading as Lord Shiva being chased by the protagonist. Those Right of Centre find it sinister, if not downright anti-Hindu.

PK divides right wing

Ruchir Modi, chartered accountant, Mumbai

It’s a ‘must see’ movie. I saw on Monday. Leave your baggage of prejudices back home if you really want to analyse the film. It’s about exposing fake godmen; so obviously there will be people who will trend hashtags like #BoycottPK. But PK is not about atheism, it’s about believing in God irrespective of religion.

Rohit Arya, yogi, author and polymath, Navi Mumbai

The movie PK is getting a lot of attention, none of it deserved. Ostensibly a movie about not being credulous in matters of faith, it is deeply suspect when it comes to actual integrity. Taking pot shots at Hindus is an ancient and reprehensible pastime in India. When Hindus send a few the other way, loud and insincere cries of tolerance and acceptance pollute the air. When your titular character hands out leaflets that he is looking for a missing God and all figures shown are solely of the Hindu persuasion, you are not making an honest movie but poisoning the well.  This movie might have been better off pushing an atheist agenda, but that would be a box office failure. While it is a sin to be credulous, it is much worse not to be successful.

A fraud godman buys a space artefact for Rs 40,000. Why? What does he do with it, other than pretend it is a sacred relic? He can manufacture some such glow ball with ease. Saurabh Shukla plays the guruji as a huge joke. For one, he looks like the Hindenburg has come off its moorings and will soon explode with the built up gases within. The rest of his performance is parody carried to a level it loses all bite. I know you are mocking product placements of these organisations but which guru will allow his image on pillow-cases and in bathrooms?

Manoj Kumar’s Sannyasi in the early 1970s made a much sharper case against miracle-mongering and superstition, but its critique was from within the authentic aspects of the culture, not by self-appointed knowers of truth who can barely conceal their contempt for those who believe. So to argue that right wing Hindus have become thin skinned and refuse to see what is wrong in their society is bogus. Sannyasi was a gigantic hit, for there was nothing in that assessment which the normal Hindu did not agree with.

Aumlan Guha, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Kolkata

Could director Rajkumar Hirani meet the high expectations following the Munnabhai series and 3 Idiots? Well, for the most part, the answer is a resounding yes. Yet, there was this slight feeling when I exited the theatre that maybe, just maybe, Hirani may have missed out on the chance to make that rarity — a beautifully made commercial film, yet one which makes a stirring statement.

I thought the special effects should have been classier. Also, the special appearance of Ranbir Kapoor at the end — was really avoidable.

Okay, enough of nitpicking. PK is cinema right off the top drawer. It is a superbly made film, in most aspects, but I would like to make special mention of three — the dialogues, the performances and, above all, the direction. It’s been a long time since I have had such awesome fun watching a film, clapping away on myriad occasions, and it was all courtesy the dialogues. Fabulously written, with just the perfect balance! Measured, bearing in mind the sensitivity of the topic, yet strong enough to convey the message. The Bhojpuri dialect being woven into the narrative was another aspect the dialogue-writers had to bear in mind.

Surajit Dasgupta, national affairs editor, Swarajya

Both the prejudiced critics, who have yet to see the film, and its starry-eyed admirers, who could not see through the plot, got it wrong. Supporters of liberty like us, who opposed a ban irrespective of what the film contained, went a bit awry, too.

PK is not an anti-Hindu film. However, there is a subtle apology for Islamism in the introductory and concluding parts that could and should have been avoided if the rest of the film was the intended message. A scene like the protagonist (Aamir Khan), who happens to be an alien, chasing a Ramlila actor who was about to play Lord Shiva on stage, is innocuous. The alien loses his ‘remote control device’ that is supposed to enable him to communicate to his spaceship again. It is snatched by a thief right after the alien lands in a village in Rajasthan; thereafter, a well wisher (Sanjay Dutt) tells him it could have been sold off only in a richer place like Delhi. The alien comes to the country’s capital and the people and police alike tell him that in such a big city of 1.5 crore population, only “Bhagwan” could help him trace his property.

The alien has no idea of God. So he goes by what he sees in temples, churches and mosques. Since this is India, he encounters Hindu deities mostly. Pakistani film Bol had targeted hypocrisy of Islamists alone, while Hollywood and European films that target religion speak of Christianity mostly, which is natural. Anyway, one of the deities the protagonist chances upon 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 can the angry crowd be held responsible for junking a film they have yet not seen? Chances are very high that Aamir Khan’s publicity managers leaked the stills of the character looking like Lord Shiva before the film was released to raise a controversy. Manufactured disputes like these turn people curious to watch the film. It certainly helped PK’s commerce. Otherwise, the film is staid. Arguments mouthed by the characters of OMG – Oh My God! were much stronger and compelling.

Similarly, the statement, “Ham ko bola gaya tha jo darta hai woh mandir jaata hai” (I was told the fearful visit temples) — propagandists have conveniently omitted the “Ham ko bola gaya tha” (I was told) part — is gone in a jiffy during a conversation in a Hindu context. You hardly notice it. It is as momentary as scene where the protagonist enters a church with a coconut, not knowing that rituals of prayers are different in different religions, or where he approaches a mosque with wine, believing that Jesus and Allah must be pleased by the same means!

The introductory part in Belgium and the concluding part shown in an episode of book reading during the launch of the female lead character’s book, PK, has stuff that can irk Hindus troubled by ‘love jihad’. The Indian (Hindu) girl (Anushka Sharma) falls in love with a Pakistani (Muslim) boy (Sushant Singh Rajput). Subsequent events separate them and the girl feels cheated. Towards the end in course of a television debate between ‘PK’ and a godman (Saurabh Shukla), 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; the girl’s father did, which is a natural reaction of Hindu parents encountering such situations in family]. And then it turns out that the separation in the beginning of the story was a result of some misunderstanding. Ergo the conclusion that Muslims are actually not untrustworthy! This has got to be either funny or devious.

One sees a ploy like above in the film because it is not the first time Muslim actors have furthered their own predilections using films in which they have played ‘heroes’. In Farah Khan’s Main Hoon Na featuring Shah Rukh Khan, it seems India-Pakistan bonhomie is made impossible not because of Pakistan but for some Indians who do not like the two countries to draw close to each other. SRK-cast My Name Is Khan desperately tries to say Muslims are not terrorists while nobody had asked for this clarification/explanation. Saif Ali Khan’s home production Agent Vinod furthers the Islamic community’s favourite Rothschild conspiracy theory. And in this patriarchal world, why does PK starring Aamir Khan have to show the love pair comprising a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl? Why not the other way round (for a change)? What impression does it seek to leave in the minds of young girls in India — that such pairing is ‘cool’? I, of course, have no problem with such coupling provided it happens out of free will and no conversion follows. But is “free will” possible in a country like Pakistan?

However, those who see an Islamist conspiracy in PK may seek solace from the fact that Islam faces the worst press across the world, or at least in the West. While some satirical commentators in western Europe caricature Islamic beliefs, the Americans are unsparing in their direct attacks on burqa, hijab, niqab, polygamy, terrorism etc. What worse treatment can you ask for? In the world’s scheme of things, it hardly matters if the media and films in India treat Muslims with kid gloves.

Finally, I stay committed to freedom of expression. If this film outrages one community, a member of the community is free to outrage another religious group with his own home production. There is no reason whatsoever for a ban. No film, book, painting etc should be banned.

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