As Bollywood's slapstick brigade laughed its way to the bank in a year that saw extremes in cinema, one remembers only the handful that stood against the tide and provided some freshness with genuine storytelling. In a last among them, a stranger finds himself in an awkwardly complex land with subjective attitudes to cultural philosophies that simply do not make sense to him.
Yes, he is an alien (But not of the Jadoo variety). Because only an alien can actually look at things objectively on a gola where questioning age-old systems means sacrilege. He is critical of the general norm and challenges the religion managers with child-like questions whose answers might send tremors across the general cultural beliefs. Rajkumar Hirani isn't new to breaking the stereotype and changing perceptions. With 'Munnabhai' and 'Rancho' having influenced a generation in their own way, he now faced the challenge of accusing religious leaders of connecting people to a 'wrong number' with God. He had to often ridicule common practices, rattle faith and yet remain inoffensive to each religion in a country that boasts of its diversity. 'OMG' managed that only to a certain extent because Paresh Rawal was still a human from the same society who couldn't quite be bashful against sentiments. Hirani's genius solution was to have an alien look at this from a child-like perspective and question our common sense and conscience. Optimistically, the result will alter the way a billion people waste gold, money, milk and sundry products in age old superstitions that are commanded by the fear of uncertainty. Pessimistically, these billion will simply erupt in guffaws provoked by PK's outrageous learning process while munching on their expensive popcorn.
PK's (Aamir Khan) only means of returning home was stolen from him the moment he arrived in the remoteness of Rajasthan. Barely learning mankind's basic ways in perhaps the most hilarious ways in recent memory, he encounters Bhairon Singh (Sanjay Dutt) who fails to understand this unique character but indirectly helps him learn bhojpuri. Now, with language as his effective tool, PK travels to Delhi in search of the thief who stole his device. Through various sources, he is recommended to follow the path of God, who would offer a solution to his problem. This is when PK is confronted with several Gods among diverse religions that sometimes have the opposite principles. Through rigorous devotion to his cause of searching for the one who could help him, PK realizes that God wasn't answering because of the wrong connection with his devotees. Aided in his quest to change people's views about God by a TV journalist, Jaggu (Anushka Sharma), he dares to correct the iconic servant of God, Tapasvi Maharaj (Saurabh Shukla). What ensues in Rajkumar Hirani's well written script is a delicate walk along the line of pragmatism and self belief. It's his way of contributing to society's betterment and as he has done in his earlier films, in an entertaining manner.
This is most certainly among Aamir Khan's best films. With his wide open eyes and flappy ears, he is constantly observing and learning to adapt to a strange land. His child-like viewpoint of life around him on the gola is portrayed convincingly along with his frustrations, confusions and deliberations. He can dance with a straight face through an entire song with Bhairon Singh, act like an obsessed child in waste of time and then debate like a mature, learned individual against Tapasvi. His objective view of things we do on a day-to-day basis in a subjective manner is what prompts the best dialogues, performances and comedy in the film. The dialogues of course, are funnier because of him speaking in bhojpuri. Aamir Khan could innocently question societal structures without getting into trouble and he does exploit that advantage brilliantly as PK.
Anushka Sharma uses her charm to complement Aamir Khan's eccentric character and while she naturally enjoys his comedy, she guards her recent heartbreak from an episode in Belgium. Her energy is consistent throughout and that is perhaps her strength as an actress.
Sushant Singh Rajput impresses in his brief role while Boman Irani is outstanding as the media mogul who is keen to avenge the trishul attack on him. Parikshit Sahni's depiction of a stubborn religious follower is quite a treat from one of the most under-rated supporting actors. Bhairon Singh's brevity on screen was definitely inadequate and we realize how well Sanjay Dutt complements Hirani's form of storytelling in any character. Saurabh Shukla's Tapasvi Maharaj is the manipulative hypocrite whose ego and lies reflect much of what is wrong with religion now. He is excellent in the debate scene with PK where his demeanor even sets doubts in our minds about the outcome.
Music by Ajay-Atul and Shantanu Moitra is reminiscent of Hirani's previous films. Refreshing and catchy with smooth melodies such as chaar kadam which has Shaan at his best. Waste of time is catchy enough to linger in our minds with its happy theme, reminding us of PK's silliness.
Rajkumar Hirani isn't out the change the world. But he is certainly enabling us to. PK only speaks his mind and looks at the world like a child but his struggle with making sense of the world is what we relate to. PK's questioning of the cultural norms and religious bigotries doesn't aim for sacrilege. It instead enables us to pursue what we believe in purely, without any influencing factors. The disbelief of the alien's existence quickly gets discarded by the script's intention to use him as a manifestation of an outsider, cutting through the layers of complexities we have surrounded our cultures with. Then there's the adroitly crafted Sarfaraz-Jaggu love story that seems like an odd deviation for a while, till it so heart-warmingly falls into the satire. There's so much beauty in PK and none of it relates to scenery, actor's bodies, slapstick comedy and over-acting. It's all in the writing and dialogues where it makes so much sense. This is an intelligently made film that took Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra 5 years to make (along with other projects) and the effort is completely justified when the audience nods with PK in appreciation of his views and rolls out of their seats while laughing at the brilliantly executed barber scene. PK and his friend are going to be one alien duo we will eagerly be waiting to welcome on to our gola.
- 9.222 on a scale of 1-10.