An Jo on PK


The striking evidence of the fact that Hirani demotes technological prowess/progress in cinema and elevates the basic function of cinema as a story-telling art-form is evident ironically in the introduction scene of Aamir Khan emerging from a space-ship that unmistakably looks like a toy that one’s nephew or niece would gloat over at a Black Friday sale. And this is how the ‘old’ school of cinema functioned; allowing technology in aiding the narrative rather than over-whelming it. And Hirani continues that in the middle-class mould of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee, K. Balachander, or, even to an extent, dare I say, Ray.

In essence, Hirani’s social satire is aimed at the cult of God-men cropping up in India cashing in on the depressing and fear-filled societally-stamped lives of Indians which he had briefly hinted at in ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’ with the ‘mangalik’ plot. He does—like Karan Johar in the politically manipulated ‘My name is Khan’— cunningly use a very convenient framing-device for an out-worldly character trying to reach his other-worldly home to critique the concept and businesses of ‘organized’ religion. Through an ‘extraneous’ character named PK, he taunts the existing – genuine or fake—system of God-men and their sometimes gullible or/and non-gullible disciples/followers. He succeeds in the majority part of the film – albeit with a few wrinkles.

Hirani and Abhijat Joshi display a remarkably acute ‘social-observation’ quotient in PK. There are razor-sharp metaphors to how a human stops from slapping another being just because of an image of God adhered to the cheeks while doing all things even criminally-unimaginable right under the invisible noses of the divine form/s; or how Gandhi’s [the Mahatma I mean, not Sonia] value is dramatically increased or decreased depending on where or what his image is printed on; or the act of ‘stealing’ foot-wear right after praying to God in his ‘abode.’ There are many well-written scenes like these that brighten this movie and seem to shadow some parts that are under-whelming. Aamir comes naked onto this earth like a child devoid of ‘learnt’ emotions – good or bad – and goes back fully clothed, taking with him some knowledge added to his being and some deducted that he acquired before from his other-world years. One can infer Aamir’s ‘other-world’ as simply a ‘utopian’ existence since one doesn’t need to dress or lie and just ‘dance’ away one’s worries there. Well, this is in fact all we earthlings are yearning for in today’s frenetically paced life! The mis-used ‘holy’ bead in PK could be a metaphor for any of the mis-representations of our society – that of the Jihad, that of covert-conversions, or that of superstitions resulting from blind-worshipping.

The first-half is more of a basket of gag-filled social stings while the second half converges toward social-critique infused dramedy. Anushka Sharma carries off her role with a fine balance of perkiness and constraint. Irani doesn’t have much to do but impresses in the scenes as the trident-pinched media-boss. Shukla is delightful as the deceitful God-man gasbag. He takes his repertoire of arguably being the finest actor to play character-driven roles in the industry today – carrying on the mantle of Anupam Kher and Paresh Rawal – adding this role to his rich collection of accomplishments as the police-man in ‘Barfi’ and the judge in ‘Jolly LLB.’ Dutt is quite likeable in a brief cameo. Sushant Singh is okay and not some wonderful actor that he is made out to be.

However, this movie is not all smooth and does bump onto some ‘craters’. The movie suffers from confusion whether it is attacking the ‘businesses’ of religion or the rituals by and of themselves. On the one hand, it takes on the Hindu ritual-rolling, the Shiite’s chest-beating, self-flagellating rituals which actually might not have anything to do with the ‘designs’ of God-men or Mullahs or what have you. These are practices internalized or passed over from generations. When one starts questioning these ‘independent’ of organized religion, any art-work starts treading that thin line between atheism and belief; between scientific thinking and religious interpretations. It is imperative for the benefit of the audience that the author takes it the whole nine yards – or at least try. Since Raju’s art-work is modeled more on Hrishikesh Mukherjee than on Basu Bhattacharya’s ventures, PK doesn’t quite muddy the waters and is quite content on a ‘sanitized’ version of a satire. The musical score is poorer when compared to other Hirani films that can be mentioned as having superior music – only when compared to that of PK!

As is the wont of those who call themselves ‘liberal’ in India, even in Hirani’s world – although, to be fair, Hirani is too much of a gentleman to be labeled a ‘liberal’ – there are false equivalencies of ‘Jihad-induced’ acts of murdering school-girls or the Missionaries’ covert-conversions with a God-man asking a man to make a debilitating trip to Gangtok to pray for the welfare of one’s afflicted spouse or donating 100 rupees for the fraudulent cause of a temple. So a fake God-man here conveniently and quite boldly tells a character not to trust Muslims [he doesn’t say ‘Pakistanis’; it is ‘Muslims’]. Horror of horrors, this God-man even invokes Mohammed of Ghazani as an example of the ‘true’ character of a Muslim! Essentially, the writers Joshi and Hirani try to fit-in all the loony and fringe elements into this character of a fake God-man leaving no distinction between a Satya Sai Baba and a Babu Bajrangi.

Coming back to the performances, this has got to be the best performance of Aamir Khan post ‘Talaash’ – right up-there with his act in’ 1947′, ‘Rangeela’, ‘Sarfarosh’, and ‘Dil Chahata Hain.’ It is a role that has hamming as one helluva bait, but Aamir doesn’t bite it – and he has a tendency to ham quite a bit as proved in Mela and Mangal Pandey— and brings a remarkable balance of goofiness and constraint to his man-child character. Even within the cage of a ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ frame, he unlocks emotions astutely through his body-language. This is a fine performance that reinstates the fact that Aamir continues to remain the only one amongst his peers that has the guts to unshackle himself of the trappings of stardom when required. It might be a shock but I would go on to say—in the context of PK— that Aamir has exorcised himself of the sins of the hideous ‘Dhoom-3′ by cleansing himself in the holy Ganges of Hirani and company!

The writers, in the climactic showdown, arguably employ a dues ex machina in the form of a flash-back that sticks out like a sore-thumb. But PK’s ultimate resignation that the only God he understands is the one that made him is a fine ricocheting of David Mitchell’s quote in ‘Cloud Atlas’: “Truth is singular. Its ‘versions’ are but mistruths.”

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55 Responses to “An Jo on PK”

  1. Wow, great stuff and thanks for no spoilers.

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    • Good writing and agree the way it is written it doesn’t divulge anything about the movie.

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      • Read your no- spoiler review. Thanks. Watching in a couple of days. A question, about the surging anger in a section of twitterati and net commenters– about supposed insult to Hinduism through this film. How justified? aamir is getting it mainly, with Hirani as add on. Pretty sad, the name -calling, threats of ban…

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        • I can see *why* this would invoke some kind unease with Hindus but this film isn’t about anti-Hinduism at all. If this movie was Pakistani..the antagonist would be a Muslim…if this movie was American..the antagonist would be a Christian. Obviously the demographic resulted in the antagonist be a Hindu…although there were moments where I was thinking to myself…wow…this is some ‘ballsy’ stuff from an Indian movie!

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        • LS – trust me – there is no offence to Hinduism – yes it makes light-hearted fun of hinduism/islam/christianity and all other religions in a way – but that can’t be termed as offensive – we are a democracy and the whole tricky issue of fraud babas/sadhus etc is addressed in a diff. way than OMG – sorry this is a slight bit of spoiler but the treatment of the movie is so very diff. and it is the screenplay which is the real hero here – i wish the movie were 20-30 min longer and it would have been better

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          • idea:”whole tricky issue of fraud babas/sadhus etc is addressed in a diff. way than OMG”

            The issue addressed is not about ‘fraud’ babas/sadhus; it is just about any babas, there shouldn’t be any mediators(godmen) between gods and its people (no managers as mentioned in the movie) is the message.

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          • Mater I beg to differ here: PK does not give any solution – it just raises the question in a satirical ways and indirectly hints at the solution – and that is the beauty of this film – it doesn’t tell us to do this or do that – it says that well this could be one of the initial steps to find out the “wrong numbers” in the society 🙂 Mediator babas/sadhus are so aplenty in this country that it is a herculean task to get rid of them completely – besides people love mediators as everyone can’t get that inner connection immediately. And we are a country sucker for short-cuts 🙂 even if these cuts promise to lead to God 🙂

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          • Good to read your comments. No critic seems to have taken offense, or at least, none has mentioned perhaps( I have read few reviews). Anyway Boycott PK is trending on twitter just as Boycott Haider trended for a while couple of months back. People are so ready to be offended.

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          • “it is just about any babas, there shouldn’t be any mediators(godmen) between gods and its people (no managers as mentioned in the movie) is the message.”
            Guru has a big role to play actually.

            Guru gobind dou khade,
            kaake lagoon paay
            Balihari guru aapne
            gobind diyo batay

            However the fake-gurus use/abuse the above sentiments of people. One should have discrimination/viveka to find fake vs real. Even Swamini Vivekananda asked serious questions to all the gurus he met; even to Paramhansa. It is not about blindly following a guru. The onus of finding the right guru is on the student! Unfortunately people are looking for quick fixes to problems and not really having any sort of spiritual quest. e.g. just put some money on a stone before exam instead of studying for exam. The one who studied well doesn’t need to ‘bribe’ bhagvan!!

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      • Thanks Rajen and Munna.

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  2. This an excellent review..thank you!

    On Aamir’s performance…I thought it was so genuine and like someone else mentioned on this blog…it was a continuation of his show SMJ; so he was perfect for this role. This was the most enjoyable Aamir Khan movie after awhile for me. I was thoroughly entertained (barring few moments towards the end). This reminded me of his HHRPK, Dil, and Rangeela days where his movies and his performances were both pure entertainment. As I said in the other thread…this certainly wasn’t Hirani’s most complete film..but still fun to watch.

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    • “although there were moments where I was thinking to myself…wow…this is some ‘ballsy’ stuff “– the difference is one of tolerance of culture & an inheherent ‘magnanimity’…
      “If this movie was Pakistani..the antagonist would be a Muslim”– the inherent fakery here is laughable trying to put it as a ‘like to like’..
      Do u think such stuff would have even been allowed had a different set of people been attacked ?

      Haven’t seen the flick but have heard about it enuf …

      The ELEPHANTS IN THE ROOM were clearly avoided and for eg after dutts was blown away and that issue was hushed up —
      But the film doesn’t want to be banned!!

      My other ‘concern’ is for the poor anu who won’t be able to prance around in micro minis and enjoying champagne with strangers and all that feminism after her choice here–
      Unfortunately this film stopped before anything/everything inconvenient & went after soft targets-haven’t read the post above to avoid spoilers before viewing the film but seems this has also taken the easy approach
      And a pro hirani/aamir write up is obviously welcomed with open arms here in a clear case of PUBLICATION BIAS but that’s not new either

      Obviously though that doesn’t take away from the merits of the film/performance but that’s a different debate …

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  3. as I wrote earlier – this is the best review of PK so far AJ – ” It might be a shock but I would go on to say—in the context of PK— that Aamir has exorcised himself of the sins of the hideous ‘Dhoom-3′ by cleansing himself in the holy Ganges of Hirani and company!” – ha ha! wonderfully put – my thoughts exactly

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  4. LS:

    This is NOT a movie about anti-Hinduism or ant-majority. That is a million miles far-away from Hirani and Joshi’s thought-process.

    But yes, there is ‘confusion.’ In an attempt to replicate the trinity of Hindu, Muslim, Christianity of Desai’s vision, they falter. Times have changed and Desai’s version/vision of 1977 no longer can be considered ‘practical’. Idealist – yes, but practical – not for a moment.

    So Hirani and Joshi falter in the ‘wedding’ of Desai’s times and today’s harsh realities.

    Hirani has the ‘balls’ to question ‘idolatory’ – do the idols sold in front of the temples have enough energy bunnies in them to solve humanity’s problems? But when it comes to wine being offered as ‘prasad’ to Allah, scenes are conveniently cross-cut to just show the protagonist running away from the mosque — nobody knows what EXACTLY happened when PK took wine bottles INSIDE the Masjid..or was he even allowed entry into the mosque? After all, any form of intoxication is ‘haraam’ in Islam.

    If loonies on the right, center, or left are not getting the movie, show them the middle finger and walk on..this movie is not for them..

    There is absolutely nothing that is ‘intentionally’ derogatory to Hinduism. Many reformers in the past have argued against idolatory. No big freaking deal.

    I have tremendous respect and ‘more’ toward folks like Hirani rather than Bharadwaj who are conveniently wedded to the ‘politics’ of the time. Remember the crass, insensitive, disgusting ‘tokenism’ toward the Indian army when it is ‘thanked’ for its ‘aid’ during the flood situation in J & K in the wonderful HAIDER? Bharadwaj would have earned a complete, undiluted respect from me if along with Bashrat Peer had gone full-frontal on the assault on the Indian Army. That takes balls. Selective ‘ballsy’ attitude is not my cup of tea – and will never be.

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    • Good to read your clarification.As for Haider the tokenism ay the end is cringe-worthy.

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    • “Many reformers in the past have argued against idolatory”
      No one worships the “idols”. You should read Swami Vivekananda’s (a vedantin) interaction with Maharaja in Rajasthan where the Raja ridiculed the “idol” worship. Swamiji then asked the maharaja to spit on the photo/painting of Raja’s father since it is just a piece of paper! So one doesn’t worship a statue or idol but what it represents. In that there is nothing wrong and is not worthy of ridicule by Hirani or anyone else. Similarly if beating yourself up during moharram (as long as little kids are not involved) or rolling on ground to reach mandir/masjit is concerned, I have no issues. Those are beliefs of individual and they have right to practice it, no? However from an alien’s point of view, it was interesting and rather poignant scene where he is so desperate to go back home that he would do anything and not a commentary on religion per se by Raju, I hope. Societies will always have godmen, whether advanced country like USA or backward/illiterate people elsewhere. People, in pain and desperation, always look for quick fixes and you will always have exploitative groups of people (be it a doctor or a godman) to abuse you in your deepest misery!!! I don’t think a movie is going to change that.

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      • Di:

        SPOILERS:

        I know that story about Vivekananda & the King [ it was beautifully captured in the Mithun Chakraborty starrer where he played Paramahamsa] and also know that in Hinduism idol-worship is NOT equivalent to idle-worship. It is the ‘faith’ that one places on a representation; on an interpretation.

        When I said there can be things possibly ‘wrong’ with idolatory, I was not talking of idolatory pre se but the ‘usage.’ For example, in the scene where they try to sell the ‘idols’ to PK, the stall-owners conveniently con PK to buy more puja materials since they could price him more. That is what I think Hirani was going towards. And this is what PK hints to in the end, thought it might be considered simplistic: What kind of worshiping is this where the rich get to see ‘God’ sooner just because of the fact that they are rich while the poor have to wait in lines?

        Actually the things you talk of about people being desperate for relief and latching onto anything that appears like a balm is what even the God-man asks PK in the end: ‘Who are you to take away something that this humanity looks to as a savior? As a ray of hope?’

        A few years back when I was still an under-graduate engineering student, people visiting Ganesh temples in Pune and Kolhapur started claiming that Ganesh idols are drinking milk when offered! I too was taken in by it [underlined by the fact that our family was going through a rough time] and was torn between my engineering side & my ‘bhakti’ side. Today I might laugh at it but at that time, it was not that easy.

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        • “in the scene where they try to sell the ‘idols’ to PK, the stall-owners conveniently con PK to buy more puja materials since they could price him more.”
          Bill Gates also tried to sell something that was not there or even a kapdey ki dukan wala does that in India or designer labels wala, on and on. Big Deal. I don’t think you need to make movie on THAT. That is just a business practice and even the consumers are savvy (especially in India).
          Anyhow my take is how an alien would view the ‘earthly’ practices with the premise that none of these things (con artists, lying, cheating) happen on outer planet! If I was Hirani, I would make more meaningful movie on corporate fraud or govt con artists or gunda raj or caste system; lot more deeper issues than religious-con artists which is not a big crisis (after all kali yug hai. Yeh toh hona hi tha).
          On Ganapati drinking milk etc: as a practicing Hindu, you don’t even need to go to temple. After all you yourself are bhagvan or non-separate from Ishwara. And since Bhagvan is everywhere and knows everything there is no need to do anything extra. Even the problems that one has in life is nothing but Bhagvan. Only the ignorant people go to ‘bribe’ bhagvan to get out of ‘problems’!! I do understand the vulnerability however one shouldn’t lose reason/logic even in deepest of crisis. There is a scene in No One Killed Jessica, where VIdya Balan gives 50thousand rs to the con-artist who was exploiting her, knowingly. But in her heart she wants to be certain that she left no corner unturned. And this was no even about religion/god/god-man!!

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  5. Somebody on fb is talking about a Shiva chasing scene — which may have caused resentment.

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  6. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    I do not understand what was wrong or a mark of ‘ tokenism’ in thanking the Indian Army for the aid offered during the Kashmir floods. The army do provide much needed aid during the floods, didn’t it? And how does thanking the army for this is any way wrong? Shouldn’t they be thanked? And how does it affect the film in the least? It si not a part of the film is it? LK Advani is thanked at the beginning of PK. How does it affect the film?

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  7. Though the language gives humorous interludes, Aamir/PK just has to hold hands for 6 hours, then I wonder why he doesn’t hold Anushka’s at some point and move to shuddh hindi or english instead of having ‘astronaut’ speak in bhojpuri the whole time. If he was allowed to blink, the movie would have been wonderful. By not allowing the main protagonist to blink, they have chopped poor Aamir his acting wings. There is a poignant scene where Aamir crys in front of Mataji and that was most moving scene in the movie and probably one of the few places where Aamir/PK is allowed to blink! Overall it is just a bunch of really nicely written scenes pasted together with climax scene as messed up as the delivery scene of 3 idiots. Overall it is alright but not as good as 3 idiots or lage raho series. I definitely see PK part 2, 3, 4, 5 coming with various ‘earth’ aka India bound issues highlighted in each of them like SMJ

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  8. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    LA Times review

    Bollywood star Aamir Khan plays Tipsy, an extraterrestrial whose spacecraft drops him in the middle of the desert in Mandawa, India. A mugger promptly strips him of the remote that summons his vehicle for pickup. Everyone he turns to for help advises him to seek it from God instead. So he takes up not one but all religions — including Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam and Christianity — in hopes that some god will answer his prayers and help him find a way home.

    Cast against type, Khan sheds his charismatic leading-man persona to play the oblivious, childlike alien who breaks all Indian cultural protocols and hierology. How this astronaut can be so clueless and gullible does require suspension of our disbelief, just as do characters randomly breaking into song and dance. But the fact that Tipsy isn’t human allows the film carte blanche to be sacrilegious in the most harmless, inoffensive way. Genius.

    http://www.latimes.com/…/la-et-mn-pk-movie-review…

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  9. Jayshah’s comments make me fairly confident that the movie is a winner. Will be seeing it on Tuesday – my first in a very long time.

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  10. Great review AnJo…loved it

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    • I concur. He writes well. He should change his profession like BR 😉 🙂

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      • omrocky786 Says:

        Ab itna achacha bhee nahee hai …LOL!! JK

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        • haha…agar aap liktey toh aapko bhi komplement milta…hai K nahi? 😉

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          • omrocky786 Says:

            lul ( PK wala) milega…LOL!!
            Aside- Besides Aamir I think it was Saurabh Shukla who simply nailed his part. My wife had two problems with the movie-
            1. Condom wala scene and2. Dancing car, she was like Ek baar dikha diya chalo theek hai, 5-6 baar dikhaney kee kya zaroorat thee…lul kaheen key PK !!

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          • omrocky786 Says:

            Ever since I came out of OK, I was thinking about what did Aamir remind me in the wrong connection lag gaya scene at Anushka’s house– finally Now it dawned on me that – it reminded me of Aamir in Raja Hindustani with you are cumcum madam and Anushka as the Madam

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          • *Spoiler*

            kapde to wahin se mlte hain – Dancing Car 🙂

            Yeh sochiye agar car se Ghaghara aur coat gahyab ho to car waale kya pehenge?

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          • omrocky786 Says:

            Munna- Choli aur Patloon!!! LOL

            Aside- From IMDB
            Sex & Nudity

            EditHistory

            4/10

            It is implied multiple times that people are having sex in a car (nothing can be seen).

            There is a reference to a packet of condoms and a discussion about sex between two characters

            Two characters visit a brothel and prostitutes (fully dressed) are seen.

            Two characters kiss once in the first half that lasts for few seconds.

            The lead character is completely naked in a scene but covers his private parts with a big radio transistor.

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  11. Loved the movie.. will have a post on it.. supremely entertaining.. I still wouldn’t necessarily place it with the earlier three films..it’s as easy a watch as those three, as inspired as those films a lot of times but perhaps those ultimately had a bit more of a narrative arc. Extremely enjoyable as it was I still felt it could have been more, which isn’t something I would say for the other three films. Having said that I didn’t like it less than 3I. And I’d agree with many who are calling this Aamir’s best part. But more on all this in a proper post.

    Some great trailers here. I (once more loved this first trailer), Wazir, Broken Horses, Tevar, Badlapur, maybe one other.

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    • omrocky786 Says:

      I saw GOW Trailer as well, the subtitles were out of focus……
      waiting for your full review

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    • “Extremely enjoyable as it was I still felt it could have been more…”

      I agree with this part most. Though I enjoyed pk a lot more than 3 Idiots…3 Idiots is a better film IMO.

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      • will say though that irrespective of which film one likes the most from Hirani (I am still most partial to the first Munnabhai) there’s no doubt that he’s found his mark uncannily a fourth time! And with this film Aamir will have starred in the two biggest absolute grossers for now. I am pretty certain this is going to be way out of the ballpark much like D3 was with respect to the others. And yeah 300 is certainly plausible here. the rest is hard to predict this early.

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    • It was DBB trailer, at least on my end here in NJ and it was simply mind boggling.
      And without any exaggeration it was almost a miracle- a viewing of PK with the most receptive, interactive, cheerey and completely engrossed packed audience.
      From 2 to 80 years old crowd and no one finds any language barrier-no but-no if -no comparison-just fullest entertainment and acceptance and realization of wrong turn of humankind..ie creation of man made gods and blindness to that..

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    • Satyam, I hope we are getting a piece on PK from you.

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  12. Many times Bachchan has recited his father’s poem at VC’s house in presence of VC, RH and AC and so a kind of payback in the foam of AB’s recitation concert in Belgium episode in the movie.

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  13. *Spoilers* Not that you need this disclaimer, if you have not already seen it already, get going!!

    No one can claim of this being anti-Hindu. Hirani has used a very potent device, ie an ignorant alien, to question every religious dogma that inhabits hamara gola. And India is the melting pot of every dogma that ever existed in mankind. No better language or land that can take on all these issues.
    The conversion issue is addressed in a 5sec clip that criticizes missionaries with a simple dialog that bolsters the case of any RSS sympathizer (ie in case they thought this movie was against their worldview).
    Terrorism is addressed very aptly and appropriately, again with a simple dialog: if everyone violently protected their religion, all we would be left are shoes and no humans. That last faceoff between PK and Tapsvi is not just addressing Hindus, it is metaphorical for every religion.
    Someone mentioned that Hirani has faltered due to lack of an author-backed script (a la 3I). IMHO, this is his greatest contribution to mankind. Previously, he took on issues that do affect people in various walks of life. But nothing affects people more than religious dogma. I may have missed any equivalent Hwood work that is similar in scope and reach, and so I feel that this is the best vehicle to have addressed issues affecting humanity at this very juncture of our history. And all wrapped in satire with rib tickling comedy. He may have stolen some whatsapp-FB jokes, but cud anyone else weave them so effortlessly in the narrative?
    No wonder NYT, LAT, etc are also positive on this movie. Anyone with perspective will enjoy this movie. Except for SRK/SK fans..lol..ab chodo BO numbers. Pant utaro, peeche mudo, jhuko aur bolo: Aamir Jahanpanah, tussi great Ho!

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    • Ha..Ha..lol about chodo box nos.
      would say everyone will enjoy this movie..no exceptions. .Including srk/skin fans.
      This movie crosses all bariere. Pretentention would be a different matter though.

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  14. Baba Rampal is just the latest in the long line of cult leaders. To be a cult leader you need to have fans who believe everything you say, evidence notwithstanding, and are willing to attack, sometimes violently, those who criticise you or your ideas. Baba Rampal certainly fits the bill. He declared Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, the three sons of Kaal Niranjan and Ashtangi Aadi Maya were spreading a false web to waylay humanity and that the true path to the true God, or Sat Purusha, was him, the spiritual successor of the true saint, Kabir. Thousands of people believed these stories, drank the kheer allegedly prepared from milk used to bathe him, and were willing to kill for him, and die for him.

    Before we start believing that all cult leaders are Indian, we must turn our gaze to America’s televangelists who have a long history of telling bizzare stories that their fans accept as the truth. They reject the idea that Jesus saw value in poverty and suffering as the Catholic Church claims, or that he valued the simple life as many Protestants believe. These Prosperity Preachers insist that Jesus wants everyone to be rich, that greed is good and godly, and that giving money to their Church is a quick way of attracting the Lord’s fortune.

    Not all cult leaders are religious. There are quasi-academic quasi-political cults, like the one led by Rajeev Malhotra, who shot to fame by initiating the witch-hunt against Wendy Doniger in USA (who also has her fan following that believes every word she writes is the truth and nothing but the truth). Fuelled by that success, this NRI now imagines himself as an ‘intellectual kshatriya’ who is going to ‘save India’ from those Western and Indian scholars, dead and alive, who he imagines as conspiring to ‘break India’. He positions himself as the source of all ‘path-breaking’ Hindu wisdom, yearns to be invited to meetings and literary festivals, itching to debate and demolish. Ignored, he mocks imagined challengers as ‘colonial sepoys’ and he brands imagined rivals as ‘mediocre’ and ‘plagiarists’. His fans enthusiastically agree. For them, he is the saviour, prophet and martyr of Hinduism, and they fail to see the irony of such qualifications! Perhaps the most fascinating cult leaders are the ‘rational’ ones and their ‘rational’ fights, the most acrimonious being the decade-long feud between Richard Dawkins and Deepak Chopra. Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist, famous for coining the term ‘meme’; he is what is best called a militant atheist. Chopra is a mind-body guru, popular among Hollywood stars, who questions the scientific status quo by speaking about ‘consciousness’ and ‘quantum healing’. Both Dawkins and Chopra, call each other names like fraud, fundamentalist and bigot. Both inspire great admiration and irritation, in equal measure, as they make room for no other truth but their own.

    Cult leaders are not liars; they do present powerful and profound truths. But the problem is that it eventually stops becoming about what they are saying, it becomes about them! They become attractive, evoking the animal within us, our desire to be part of a pack or a herd, our desire to follow an alpha and protect a territory against rivals. They also appeal to our human side, the side that yearns for some meaning and purpose, that wants to reject others, indulge the self and feel superior, by association to grand personalities.

    – See more at: http://www.mid-day.com/articles/delightful-truths-of-cult-leaders/15857151#sthash.18S8AuGK.dpuf

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  15. This is a fine review An Jo, now that I’ve seen the film.

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  16. Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani has hailed Aamir Khan-starrer “PK” as a “wonderful and courageous film”.

    A movie buff, Advani recently watched the Rajkumar Hirani directorial. He took a liking to the film and feels that a majority of people should watch it.

    “Hearty greetings to Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra for a wonderful and courageous film that they have produced in the shape of ‘PK’,” Advani said in a statement.

    “We are fortunate to have been born in a vast and variegated country like India. This however casts on all patriots a duty to ensure that nothing weakens the unity of the country — neither caste nor community nor language nor region, and certainly not religion,” he added.

    Featuring Aamir as an alien, the film takes a hard hitting swipe on organised religion, god and godmen.

    Advani believes that religiosity is for “our nation an inexhaustible source of spiritualism, and so of ethical conduct. Those who run down religion, any religion, are doing a great disservice to the country and to its unity”.

    “It is this cardinal lesson that emerges clearly out of this recently released film ‘PK’ which has excellent performances by the protagonists Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma and Boman Irani,” he added.

    SOURCE: TOI

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  17. In downtown Worli, it is common to hear an unusual greeting of ‘Assalamu-Alaikum, Guruji’ whenever an 80-year-old Muslim man steps out of his modest home. He is renowned Sanskrit scholar Pandit Gulam Dastagir, who over six decades has impressed the Shankaracharyas, late prime minister Indira Gandhi, RSS leaders and Islamic scholars, all with equal elan. Armed with a deep knowledge of both Islam and Sanskrit, Pandit Dastagir can speak with authority on any religious topic. Born in Chikhali village in Solapur district, Pandit Dastagir completed his schooling before joining a government Sanskrit institution.

    “I was the only Muslim student in a class of four dozen Brahmins. My Brahmin Guruji developed a liking for me and
    encouraged me. I acquired my entire Sanskrit knowledge of the scriptures, Vedas and other texts there,” says Pandit Dastagir.
    Around mid-1950s, he shifted to Mumbai and joined the Maratha Mandir Sansthan’s Marathi-medium Worli High School as a Sanskrit teacher for all classes. Two decades later, to comply with professional requirements, he appeared directly for a Master’s degree in Sanskrit from Mysore University.

    After the Emergency, when the Janata Party ruled India, Pandit Dastagir was suddenly targeted. “They suspected I was a namesake Muslim propagating the RSS and Jana Sangh ideology through Sanskrit. It was only after a long investigation that they were proved wrong,” he chuckles.

    When Indira Gandhi returned to power in 1980, she summoned him and was surprised to discover that Pandit Dastagir was actually a ‘Syedvanshi’, or belonging to a clan considered the direct descendents of Prophet Mohammed. “She met me several times and appreciated my knowledge and love for Sanskrit. In 1982, she told the education ministry to appoint me as a ‘Rashtriya Sanskrit Pracharak’,” Pandit Dastagir says. When baffled officials asked Gandhi how should his duties be classified, she reportedly shot back: “He will teach us what needs to be done. Let him function independently.”

    For two years, he toured India extensively and propagated Sanskrit in government and private institutions. He quit the post after Gandhi’s assassination in 1984. “I acquired my MA in Sanskrit only in 1987 at the age of 50, although I was proficient in the language long before.” Since his retirement, Pandit Dastagir lectures on the similarities between Islam and Hinduism with reference to various aspects of one of the world’s oldest and richest languages, Sanskrit. “Sanskrit is not only for Brahmins. But this perception made the masses reluctant to study it. I create awareness about Sanskrit all over India among different castes and religions,” he said.

    Pandit Dastagir explained that Hinduism does not recognise ‘conversions’ or the caste system. “The current craze for ‘conversions’ has no basis in Hindu scriptures. It is not recognised. At best, you can change a person’s name, not his soul from the religion of his/her birth,” he said.

    Pandit Dastagir says he has never encountered objections from fellow Muslims over his passion for Sanskrit. “Comparative study of different religions makes you more reasonable. I am not a fanatic, just an ordinary Muslim.”

    – See more at: http://www.mid-day.com/articles/conversion-has-no-basis-in-hindu-scriptures/15871196#sthash.5tPKxNwF.dpuf

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