To See Or Not See PK

By Ranjit K. Sahu

The year has ended with another uncalled controversy dotting the landscape of Bollywood, the release and theme of PK, the movie of Hirani and Aamir Khan.  There has been much said about the film’s obscure way of belittling Hinduism and promoting relationship between a Pakistani man and Indian woman.  While the freedom of speech permits everyone to express their views, it also bestows on them a sense of responsibility. In that aspect the movie has failed.

It is not that Hindu rituals have not drawn flak from the society earlier. It is just that the approach is in bad taste or looks like to be in it. If Hirani intended to generate a lot of controversy and gather   audience for the movie to tag it as a hit, it is unacceptable that he exploit and hurt religious sentiments in the process. Claiming that other religions have also been projected is no excuse either. Why hurt any religion, little or more in an atmosphere which can create communal tensions?  There are many vices plaguing the society and Hirani could have done well to make movies on those. There is the perennial problem of female infanticide, the rape of women, the terrorist attacks, and the exploitation of poor  by the rich for film makers to make movies on.  These problems require more urgent attention rather than a problem where someone’s slippers are stolen.

Similarly, when followers of a religion meet people associated with its teachings and give donations, they do so with their own money. They have a right to donate as much as Hirani has a right to make a movie. It is again not that movies cannot show false saints. Bollywood has in the past shown movies where false God men were shown fooling the public with a very recent, Oh My God. That however did not ridicule God or the people practicing the faith. It had tried to give a message about the practices and approaches to God.  In the earlier genre of films from the black and white era to the colored movies, false god men and sadhus have been portrayed many times be it in Sanyasi of Manoj Kumar or Swami Dada of Dev Anand. However, the religion itself was not questioned and thus, the then audience accepted it.  What Hirani is doing unconsciously is questioning the religion and not the practices which are wrong. Moreover there is a thin line between satire and insult. You can comment on the practice, not the faith. The movie PK on the other hand ridicules the followers of the religion as well.

 Additionally today’s audiences do not need these moral lessons.  They are better informed about the different problems plaguing the religious institutions and this is not limited to Hinduism alone! There is the problem of homosexuality and rampant pedophiles against the dictum of Catholics. It also   harms the people at a personal level.  There is the indoctrination and radicalization of youth which has led to the evolution of a new breed of terrorists all over the world.  Aamir and Hirani would do well to point out those as well since their implication on the world scenario and human social context is more relevant than people indulging in Idolatry (which hardly harms anyone).   In effect the duo is trying to catch a pickpocket and let go the murderer with their present approach. Indeed from a logical perspective an alien landing in the desert   and entering the Indian society would be more exposed to and puzzled by the routine conglomeration of people on the road five times a day stopping their work (required to fulfill their basic needs), ladies enclosing themselves in black, by the cat calls and molestation of women rather than a few people going to a Baba for blessings.

In short if the idea of the movie is to bring in a consciousness in the society and effect a change, Hirani would do well to read a bit of Indian history.  Hinduism has been the only religion that has been evolving from ancient times, incorporating changes into it and introducing new practices. Be it the abolition of the Sati system or the education of girls the Hindus have been more active than followers of other religions in promoting their women and modernizing themselves over the centuries.  Here again it is important to distinguish between religion sanctioned rituals and socially prevalent customs and not label female infanticide and dowry as Hindu rituals. They are social practices and are legally banned by the constitution.

If the duo intends to make films for pure entertainment, there are multitudes of themes and if they want social reforms there are many too.  Additionally   if they want to just ring a hit in the box office they have formulae and people who will bare all. The duo need not have to go to the extent of getting Aamir naked to draw audiences. In fact through the film the duo have at best exposed their narrow interpretation of Hinduism. This,   in spite of being born in India and having access to the various sources that could have helped them understands the religion in greater depth. In effect they have denuded themselves in front of the Indian audience and brought to fore their thoughts which are nothing but those of greed, money and fame through cheap antics.

It is  for people to now decide whether seeing another movie depicting their religion and practices in bad light by spending hard earned money  (to fill the coffers of the producer) is worth the time and efforts. And the question would remain to see or not to see PK, the marketing strategies implemented by the likes of NDTV not considered. We definitely miss movies of yester years like Satyakaam, Do Bigha Zameen or Amar Prem that would entertain while bringing to the fore the social issues in a subtle suggestion (minus sleaze and vulgarity).

About The Author: Ranjit Sahu, was born in India and is a doctorate in biotechnology. He has published two books in poetry ( 2005: A Year of Love and Drunk ) and his poems have appeared in the website of Poetry.com. Presently, he is working on several volumes of poems with different themes.

One Comment

  1. If today’s audiences do not need the moral lessons, let’s let them decide what is wrong and what is not.. why to guide them…why such a hue and cry then..:)

    http://somebodysaidit.com/bollywood/does-pk-really-hurt-hindu-sentiments/

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