Written by Abhijat Joshi and Rajkumar Hirani
Directed by Rajkumar Hirani
PK is an interesting film that deals with faith across religions in a country with more major religions than the US. It steps close to becoming a great film, but holds itself just enough back that you’ll leave wishing PK pushed just a bit more.
Aamir Khan (Dhoom: 3) plays PK, who is a visitor from another planet that arrives on Earth, nude except for a glowing amulet around his neck, which is the recall device for his ship. The first person he sees snatches the amulet and escapes, stranding PK on Earth with no way to contact home.
Jaggu (Anushka Sharma) starts as a student in Europe, who bumps into a fellow student from her region named Sarfaraz (Sushant Singh Rajput). At first she’s disappointed to learn he’s Muslim and from Pakistan, but soon puts that aside and the two fall in love, over the objections of her parents. To prove them wrong, she demands Sarfaraz marry her right away, but while waiting at the chapel, she’s handed an anonymous note saying he’s not going to marry her, and Jaggu returns to India, broken hearted, but refuses to have anything to do with her parents.
Months later, Jaggu’s now a television producer for a news show, and happens to spot PK wandering around dressed like a loon and handing out flyers that are missing posters for various deities. She thinks he’d make a good story, because he’s different from everything else on TV. Eventually she catches up to him and gets his tale of learning about the different Earth religions, getting confused as to the different customs for each, and how none of them have helped him find his amulet so he can return home. Despite not believing he’s an alien, PK makes enough good points that Jaggu feels he’d still make a good story. PK has located his amulet, it now belongs to a local religious guru named Tapasvi Maharaj (Saurabh Shukla), who is passing it off as a pearl from a divine necklace. Jaggu’s parents follow Tapasvi Maharaj’s every word, and Jaggu’s effort to expose him as a fraud fuels further rifts with her father (Parikshit Sahni).
PK’s appearances on TV and complains that religious leaders are calling “wrong numbers” lead to a social media movement where the public sends in videos exposing religious frauds. Eventually Tapasvi Maharaj agrees to a televised debate with PK, and drama ensues.
PK manages to poke a good deal of fun at the different religious practices, such as a confused PK being dragged out of a church for offering Jesus some food. There is an oft-repeated scene of PK running away from various houses of worship with a bunch of angry people giving chase. The main focus of PK is of the small time holy men who make money grifting their followers after producing “miracles” that don’t hold up to close scrutiny, then hide behind their cloth and devotees whenever they’re called into question. PK is inspired by Abraham Kovoor, who went around exposing religious frauds much like Houdini spent his later years exposing bad magicians. As you can imagine, PK has caused a bit of a stir in India, largely from the same people the movie skewers. There was also a bunch of other objections, but the controversy hasn’t stopped PK from becoming the highest-grossing Indian film of all time.
Aamir Khan is great as PK, his talent of playing weirdo characters gets put to good use with creating an actual alien that must adjust to Earth’s customs. He walks and talks and stares differently, and uses the dance scenes to show PK’s adjusting to life on Earth by his adoption of the dance moves of his Earth friends. Anushka Sharma is just incredibly charming as Jaggu, a woman struggling to live her own life and do something that matters while failing to meet the approval of her strict father and living with the pain of being dumped at the altar. Despite her trials, she perseveres to do what is right and what will help her friend.
A good chunk of the first half of the film is PK narrating a flashback of his arrival on Earth and figuring out how things work on Earth, such as wearing clothes, money, and even speaking the language. There is a running gag of him acquiring clothing and money from dancing cars (cars where couples are having sex in the back seat) which gets more ridiculous as it goes on. PK can’t speak the language until he downloads the memories from someone by holding their hand for a few hours, this is misinterpreted as him being very randy as he grabs for the hands of ladies. My major complaint to this is the long flashback could have been integrated into the film better instead of being delivered in one long chunk.
The religious poking of fun serves a purpose with exposing local frauds, but the film does not hint that all religion is fraudulent. PK entirely focuses on the people who run the religions, with PK first thinking they are making mistakes by accident, then slowly realizing that some are defrauding people on purpose. If anything, PK teaches to be wary of people with all the answers, and encourages you to keep asking questions. While not a major statement, that’s enough of a start that you can understand why the fraudsters are feeling the heat. PK could have pushed the envelope a bit with the more major religions, especially with Aamir Khan, Rajkumar Hirani, and producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra at the helm. That’s not enough to tank my enjoyment of the film, but it is just enough to step it away from the edge of glory. Still, PK is fun, has goofy scifi elements you might recognize, and manages to have a good point underneath it all.
Rated 7/10 (logo, respectful clothes, money giver, free clothes, bouncing cars, lover, bike rides are required in all friendly alien movies!)
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