I am Bankim Biswas and today’s edition of my bunkum and wishwash is not just about the usual nonsense involving “then” and “now” scenarios. This time there is the ‘tadka’ of mishmashing it with a film review. The title may sound like an advanced chess move, but it is all about the movie PK which was downloaded from er…some “friendly” sites and watched on a Dell laptop with overused earphones and without munching any popcorn. The review could have been kinder, had it been seen in a multiplex and had your’s truly got carried away by the laughter and applause from other cine-goers.
Then, movies were like H2SO4. They conformed to a formula. Two brothers. Lost in a mela, reunited after 20 years (i.e. after 15 reels) in the middle of a dishum-dishum with the baddies while a tell-tale locket materializes into view. Predictable comedy, predictable tear jerks, predictable trees and the running around, and of course, the overly predictable happy ending. Some of them had good songs, but some still played “Gaadi bularahi hai, seeti baja rahi hai“, so why is one complaining about the current “Love is a bhaste of time” type of songs … er … so called songs? Movies then started with flashy titles like ‘Starring : DharmenDra’ and aimed for what was called a silver jubilee hit. Now they start with a list of “media partners” and “digital partners” and list all the cabs and florists who helped make the film. They now end with a list of starcast and tell us who played what. Something akin to telling us who Sita is after reciting the Ra- mayan. Shoestring budgets then did not allow for travel beyond the snow in Gulmarg, while the current offerings take you to exotic locales in Belgium for a kissing scene that could have been enacted in Ujjain. After all, a kiss looks ethereal and surreal, exotic and erotic with a backdrop of a medieval gothic structure than it does in front of a Banarsi Babu’spaan shop. Even the shots of a Jaisalmer desert look better in a digitally-rendered format than they do with the Eastman color technology of the 1970s.
Then, movies were like H2SO4. They conformed to a formula. Twobrothers. Lost in a mela, reunited after 20 years (i.e. after 15 reels) in the middle of a dishum-dishum with the baddies while a tell-tale locket materializes into view.
To distinguish one movie from the other, one had to employ heroes, each of whom came with his own idiosyncrasy. Dev Anand ambled into the screen walking straight in a left-to-right direction while delivering a dialogue in a right-to-left direction without a comma or a full stop. Dharmendra, handsome as a Jat, always spoke his trademark Jat-ese. “Kutté! Kaminey! Main tera khoon pee jaoon- ga!” Then, there was a shotgun that ironically barked out “Khamosh!” every now and then. Keshto Mukherjee always drank while Johnny Walker didn’t. Iftekhar was called “Inspector Saab” in his real life, we’re told. When you can’t create a movie with wacky plots and exotic shooting locales, change the heroes and heroines and deliver “Yeh shaadi nahinhogi” via different stars in their own unique idiosyncratic styles.
In short, you had the same story, same dialogues, same locales, and you just juggled the stars depending on their box-office-ness. Now technology allows you to experiment and improvise a whole lot. Wacky themes, offbeat music, special effects and outrageous themes. Now movies are scripted according to an actor’s abilities and these too have to keep evolving. Have you noticed Aamir Khan’s evolution? Or rather, his reverse evolution? Started off as a colourful suited-booted-hatted sentry in Mangal Pandey. Shed some clothing i.e. hat, shoes and shirt in Lagaan. Moved to bare chest and wore just tattoos in Ghajini. To culminate finally in PK in starkers mode.
This piece also doubles as a review of the current hit PK, so let’s recite the story first.
Aamir Khan is a naked alien who lands in … yes, the digitally-enhanced Jaisalmer desert which looks sandier and dunyier than its Eastman color counterparts of the 1970s. He’s got a remote device that will help him go back when he wants. But filmmaker Raju Hirani wants him to go back after about 3 hours, after milking you of a ticket and interval time goodies and parking fees. So the remote is stolen in the first few minutes to delay Aamir’s departure by a few hours. Aamir has popping ears and big bulging eyes and a goofy expression that makes him look more like an IITian than an alien. The jury is still out on whether there is a difference between the two, but that’s a subject matter for another piece. How does Goofy start wearing clothes? This is not an X-rated movie. How does he start speak- ing? This is not a silent movie.
Have you noticed Aamir Khan’s evolution? Or rather, his reverse evolution? Started off as a colourful suited-booted-hatted sentry in Mangal Pandey. Shed some clothing i.e. hat, shoes and shirt in Lagaan. Moved to bare chest and wore just tattoos in Ghajini. To culminate finally in PK in starkers mode.
Conveniently, clothes are picked up from “oscillating cars” whose owners indulge in carnal pleasures while leaving the clothes hanging on open windows for a convenient pick-up. Trousers also have wallets which allow our hero to buy carrots to stay alive. To speak, Aamir has to learn the language. Being an alien, he has the ability to hold hands and imbibe the language in a USB device data transfer fashion. After all, you have to cut a long movie short and allot an ability to the alien in order to do so. After failed attempts to hold hands with homophobic men and maybe heterophobic women, his friend Sanjay Dutt takes him to a house of ill-repute where a “Phooljadiya” allows a 6-hour hand-holding session. Outcome of this exchange is a Bhojpuri speaking Aamir. Bhojpuri is comedy friendly. It also helps the movie run in the 20 crore strong UP and Bihar territory. So finally, Aamir is able to tell us that he is looking for his remote-wa. Sanju Baba rightly surmises that all thieves flock to Delhi. So a remote-wa searching Aamir goes to Delhi and asks all and sundry about his remote-wa. Most ask him, “Tu peeke hai kya?” If only Raju Hirani knew about IITB, the question would have got rephrased to “Tu H4 se hai kya?” Anyway, we now have PK of the movie who came close to being labelled an H4-ite. When folks tell PK that only God knows where his remote is, he goes in search of God. Makes the rounds of all temples, churches, mosques and gurudwaras over a longish song. Finally, he lands in the plush precincts of a Tapasvi Maharaj, where he espies his remote masquerading as God’s gift to Tapasvi.
To retrieve this contraption from Tapasvi, PK finds a collaborator in Jagat Janani (Anushka Sharma), named as such by Tapasvi when she was an infant. Obviously Jagat Janani, now a TV anchor named Jaggu, wants to get back at Tapasvi for naming her as such. In any case, she also thinks all godmen are fake and knows that Tapasvi is one, so she sets PK on televised encounters with Tapasvi who fumbles with answers to simple questions we asked in 7th standard essays. If God exists, why does he allow so much suffering? If God is within all of us, why do we go to far off temples and come back frost bitten? Tapasvi also fails at identifying people’s religion. He does not deduce that a turban-wearing bearded man is not a Sikh, it’s merely a disguise. Clearly, he hasn’t seen any PAF event and does not know about costumes, though he himself dons one. In short, PK accuses Tapasvi of dialling a “wrong number” to God. Someone else is answering his calls to God and taking his “firki“.
By now, Bhojpuri is turned on full blast to enthral and regale. We now have a condom-wa under discussion and of course, the “matbal” meant to be matlab. Boman Irani is a delight as always. Finally, in a climactic scene, PK vanquishes Tapasvi in a debate and reclaims his remote. He manages to reunite Jaggu with Sarfaraz (Sushant Rajput), who had kissed her in Belgium in the first reel, but got separated by a misunderstanding of the type that also occurred between Dharmendra and Hema Malini in the 1970s.
PK is not a laughing riot like Hirani’s Munnabhai and 3 Idiots, but funny in a non-funny way.
PK is not a laughing riot like Hirani’s Munnabhai and 3 Idiots, but funny in a non-funny way. To make his movie Bajrang- Dal-proof, Hirani also throws in a couple of scenes where he shows ulemas and pastors to be frauds, but it looks like the forced fit-in scene that it is. Make no mistake, Hirani is clearly bashing saffron and vandals have already been ignited. The overall message of secularism is clear, but not sublime. Does not rise above the Amar-Akbar-Anthony brand that was peddled decades ago. Did Raju Hirani dial a wrong number with PK? Not quite, going by the gross numbers on the charts. In any case, as has been said before, you have to leave your IQ behind at home when you go to watch a movie now a days. Loads of fun with good cinematography, good sound, good dig- ital imagery and good entertainment. Don’t expect anything else.