After two Munna bhai movies and one 3 Idiots, one knows what to expect from a Rajkumar Hirani film. His cinema inhabits a world where good triumphs over evil without the need for bloodshed violence or even as much as a mother-sister gaali. Problems themselves are not urgent in nature, not in the literal sense, and yet these are existential issues that are tackled, issues that otherwise we overlook in our daily lives. It is this “slice of life” side to his cinema that touches hearts, despite the fact that a lot of his treatment is silly, farcical even.
PK falls in this universe of Hirani fair and square. It is far-fetched, laden with conveniences and liberties that are unpardonable otherwise in a movie. Yet at its core is Hirani magic at work- as he brings up a very poignant issue to the fore with the subtlety on he can conjure.
PK , the character, is Mr.Bean meets Chaplin meets Apna Aamir Khan- he is short, has red lips with all the paan he eats, speaks Bhojpuri and, hold your breath, is an alien. Dropped on earth on a mission to find out about this planet, he finds himself robbed of his means to go back to whence he came. In search of what is lost, he ends up looking for God, Bhagwaan, who he is told by earthlings, knows all answers and answers all prayers. PK though finds out that God is more feared than loved, and no amount of money, offerings and fasts can get Him to answer his prayers.
A disillusioned PK is accompanied by a TV reporter Jaggu, who pits PK against a godman Sadhu culminating into a showdown on national TV where a sermon on what god is and what is a fraud in his name is delivered even as a hurriedly rushed into tying up of loose ends of the story ensues.
Though the film is named after him, PK is not about the alien, it is infact about how humans on earth fight kill rob and discriminate in the name of God. Yes, OMG: Oh My God spoke just the same thing last year as Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal together bring down a battery of godmen. PK redoes the same feat, with a lot more subtlety finesse and heart.
Added to this plot line are a myriad of other stories- Jaggu the Indian falling in love with Sarfaraz the Pakistani, Jaggu the daughter trying to win over her father’s approval, PK’s unrequited love for Jaggu so on and so forth. None of these are given any logical arch or depth, these serve merely as devices to push forward the film per se, introduce songs and in the end finish the film- for the debate that it sparks will last long after the film gets over.
And that is the real triumph of PK. Agreed the gags are almost PJ’s , the love track ill conceived stereotype, the songs disastrous and the plot ridden with holes the size of potholes on Bangalore roads. Yet, all of it is surmounted by the sincerity with which the story is told, the honesty with which the characters are portrayed and the issues handled.
PK is worth the watch purely cause of Amir Khan as PK. The film livens up when he is on screen, you eagerly sit through portions he aint in waiting for him to lift things up. Sans any real reference points to bringing the character alive, Amir’s less blinking, weird walking Bhojpuri alien is pitch perfect. So is Hirani’s device of making us see our own follies through the eyes of an outsider- an alien. As PK discovers the ways of our world, we are shown a mirror to our own state of affairs. How corrupt, fear mongers rule the world in the name of God and how we fools let them divide and pit us against each other.
There is a lot of sermonizing in PK. None of it seems like one, thanks to the light heartedness of the whole treatment. The comic set pieces are hilarious; PK and his antics win you over despite their obvious over simplification. Even Anushka with those weird lips manages to impress. Sushant , Boman, Sanjay have small parts that do not harm. If only the music were as memorable as PK himself is!
As PK draws to an end, one can almost check out every thing from a list of Hirani tropes- trendy catch phrase (Wrong Number hai), endearing unlikely hero, smart unassuming heroine and a handy mirror to politely show the society its true colors. Purely on cinematic terms, one expected more from Hirani, one expected evolution in his style. As an audience who wants entertainment, PK scores high- clean enjoyable, leaving you with a smile and a polite question about your own beliefs. What more does one need from a mainstream Hindi film? Nothing else.