Cast: Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma, Sushant Singh Rajput, Sanjay Dutt, Saurabh Shukla
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Aamir Khan and Rajkumar Hirani’s previous association (‘3 Idiots’ in 2009) had reaped rich rewards – a film with a message that managed to get critic’s approval and also rake in the moolah at the box office. Needless, to say the same partnership five years later aroused a lot of interest.
Does the film deliver on its promise? The answer is yes. None other than Aamir Khan and Rajkumar Hirani could have pulled off this feat – trying to drive home a rational message in a country where all logic is suspended every time you utter God’s name.
My three-year-old wants to go to a new place of worship every weekend. So when a friend asked him why he wanted to go to church, he said, he wanted to pray. The next question inevitably was how he would pray? And my son promptly recited,
Asato mā sadgamaya
tamasomā jyotir gamaya
Oṁ śhānti śhānti śhāntiḥ.
As we burst out laughing at the incredulity of our son chanting a Sanskrit shloka in a Christian place of worship, my toddler looked confused.
PK’s (Aamir Khan) bemusement is much the same as he ventures out in search of God. Everyone he has met has told him, only Lord Almighty can help him in his quest. And it is during the protagonist’s journey that the director brandishes his craft with flourish.
It’s a sensitive issue of how religion in our country has increasingly become more about rituals, processes and monies and less about spirituality, faith and a simple emotional connect. But Raju Hirani knows his audience; he skillfully uses humour to get his point across.
The first half seems flawless as the director stitches together implausible ideas to tell a very believable story. While as an audience you laugh at the absurdities, you also realize how true each of them holds in the Indian context. You also sense PK’s desperation, as you see him frantically persuade every religious custom available to him in an attempt to convey his plea to God.
And just when the film seems to have raised the bar higher, even by Hirani’s own standards, the second half seems to lose its grip just that wee bit. The message feels a little repetitive, the television show is not as engaging as the live calls that Munnabhai used to get on radio to try and resolve issues (in ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’).
The romantic track between PK (Aamir) and Jaggu (Anushka) is a little coerced.
We love Raju Hirani’s subtleties but somehow, the Tapsvi Maharaj versus PK face-off doesn’t play off as effectively as you expect it to. Remember the Munna (Sanjay Dutt) and Batuk Maharaj (Saurabh Shukla) showdown in ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’ (2006) that made such a convincing impact?
If we are driven by faith in matters of religion then it is that same faith that drives us to godmen and religious leaders. We might question their methods but in matters such as these does logic really stand a chance?
Why was the effect so muted I wonder? Was Rajkumar Hirani trying to toe a thin line, which doesn’t completely disregard religious sentiments?
Maybe, I am nitpicking but this is the ‘3 Idiots’ team and we are used to a certain amount of ingenuity from them.
Having said that, ‘PK’ is definitely a must-watch, the film raises many pertinent questions. May be it doesn’t provide very definitive answers all along but it is essential for someone to step back and ask these questions.
How blinded are we by our belief systems? Is there a rational way to explain the customs we choose to adopt and practise? Sometimes all we need is hope to cling on to and religion provides that but can we do something constructive to channelize the hopelessness?
I wish there was more to this film than just the religious aspect. Like some inherent Indian hypocrisies that PK alludes to when he decides to visit again.
Watch ‘PK’, I am sure no other recent film has doled out such genuine humour.
You can also connect with me on Follow @reachrummana