Features Sunday, January 18, 2015 - 05:30
By Mukesh Khanna PK – also pronounced PEEKAY – meaning drunken – seemingly has triggered an intoxication that spiralled out of control. All this costs a lot effort, involves a lot of people, legal hassles and its aftermath – all of which boil down to the 5-letter word money. To me it seems like a hugely budgeted show, whose accounts, at least to the naked eye seems to have overshot the budget of the entire film and its pre-planned publicity. There are no free lunches available anywhere. The questions that occur to me are: [a] who is paying for it on either side of the divide and [b] is it all a stage-managed drama to boost the earnings of the film? I have no clear evidence of this possibility – but I can say with some clear knowledge of past track records that such controversies always drive audiences to cinema halls to boost earnings. In the case of PK, the attacks on the box-office winner starring Aamir Khan are the truest portrayal in the Punjabi proverb that avers that the tree with the largest collection of ripest fruits attracts stoned urchin thieves’ stone pelting. An aspect worth noting is that this hullabaloo began after the film had made history in terms of being the most profitable film in India. This publicity, to put it mildly, can only extend the movie’s stay in theatres and increasing profits for its distributors, makers, et al. Sections of the Bharatiya Janata Party and some ultra-right-wing radical Hindu organisations – aver that Muslim, Christian and Sikh religions were let off lightly during critiques in the successful movie. Just as a creator has a right to freedom of expression, others have the right to protest against such expressions if they harm the sensibilities of any community. Vandalism and rowdyism are law and order problems to be tackled by the police. The legal issue will be decided by the censor board and it already has taken a clear stand. Holding a legal degree, I can say all this with some authority. If someone has to challenge the very film’s screening – the whole exercise would be meaningless because a huge section has seen it and its illegal DVDs are available all over the place. Incidentally, the whole anger seems to stem from the personal faith of Aamir Khan – as a Muslim. Those who seem to be angry about the critiques in the film seem to be implying that all this slamming of fraud God-men cannot be said by a non-Hindu. I base my deduction firstly on the basis of the fact that similar kinds of films have been released in the past – made by Hindus and none had raised his/her/their little fingers about it in legal terms. One film was about a so-called court case against God! Secondly, all such protests have rendered all controversial films as hits. As a sensible person, I have to suspect foul-play. Let me carefully add, I am merely raising a suspicion. If such an event has not occurred, so much the better. Ironically, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs – His Holiness Shri Gobind Rai – had clearly stated vide the first Anandpur Sahib Resolution that Sikhism is the sword and shield arm of Hinduism! This brouhaha also is choking the release of a biopic of the late lamented freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak, one of the foremost defenders of the Hindu faith. To my mind, some incidents in the film betray the following grey areas: 1. By showing that minority religions’ holy men and their adherents are successful in silencing India’s largest religious denomination to which the main protagonist in the film is believed to belong by his detractors, the implication is that Hindus are wimps of the worst order. 2. The protestors while letting off steam against PK – are silent about 2 facts: [a] The Catholic Pope has ordered the defrocking of over 500 priests on charges of sexual misconduct; [b] in the name of Islam, wars are being waged and terrorism being defended offensively – despite its founder Prophet Muhammad expressly prohibiting them; and [c] despite Sikhism being the defender of the Hindu faith had its own versions of dubious characters in the form of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale who besmirched the reputation of the holiest shrine of the Sikhs – the Harmandir Saheb and its latest avatar – one Baba Ram Rahim against whom the Central Bureau of Investigation has launched a probe. 3. In a single sentence, PK, a character supposed to have landed from some outer planet played by Aamir Khan – tells all of us that our beliefs are basically flawed – and this includes Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism. Does someone from outer space need to tell us our flaws? 4. However, I am led to suspect the following as well: a. Is this movie being slammed because Aamir Khan subscribes to Islam? b. Is someone being paid to do all this to divert attention from more pressing problems facing the nation – like rising unemployment, rising prices and huge defence scandals by getting parliament stalled from the opposition benches? c. Or is PK part of a grand and sinister design to trigger a certain kind of lawlessness in the length and breadth of India that is Bharat? d. Should one read more into the other celluloid successes that depict the victory of vigilantism – some of them coming from Salman Khan, Ajay Devgun and Akshay Kumar – examples: Dabangg, Singham I and II and Holiday? e. Would I be right in assuming that the common masses are being encouraged to take law into their own hands – leading to intolerance in the name of religion? Well, the recent events do show such successful common trends’ threads … movies and/or rowdy acts by certain criminalised sections of the Indian society. I can hear persons baying for my blood because I too had played the first Indian superhero – Shaktimaan – a fictional nemesis of dark and evil forces – with a superhuman strength granted by powers beyond the conceptual reach of normal laity. To those, I have to point out some basic facts. I. I played a superhero – blessed with divine powers and pontificated against bad habits like tobacco and alcohol addiction but in every episode – exhorted the public to obey the law and develop clean habits. I succeeded in making the serial a commercial success – in Doordarshan – despite the onset of richer, better organised private satellite channels. It is being rerun in a private channel now attracting a huge audience. II. Those who tried to threaten and close my serial some years ago belonged to the vice-lobbies. III. The modern day commercial celluloid successes depict heroes who smoke, drink and dance with hired hip-swinging female courtesans of ill-repute in the name of entertainment. IV. While I do not begrudge anyone’s monetary success, I have a very simple question on the basis of my past contributions to the world of entertainment – when clean software does succeed, why do persons and/or establishments with deep pockets – peddle scorn-soft-porn and advocate lawlessness? To understate the whole thing – there is a major difference. So, here we are – showing some successes of some so-called good guys or those who do not know what they are – good, bad or plain indifferent – as in the case of PK [as the main protagonist is an alien] whose villains and sometimes heroes themselves indulge themselves in evil vice, planting ideas into the baddies’ already convoluted minds. Now, I am asking myself some questions – to which I at present do not have answers – and pose them to the general audience: i. Does financial success iron out wicked ideas propagated in the name of goodness’ triumph over evil? ii. Who will undo the harm whose proof is being seen in the length and breadth of India – with school girls less than 10 being raped by those in whom they have placed their trust in temples of learning? iii. When and how will the correction happen? iv. Who will judge whether the corrective measures – be par for the course? v. What will happen if the corrective measures – by themselves – turn out to be more counterproductive than the current malaise? Tweet Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability on the same.
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