Saturday, 3 January 2015

To Ban or Not to Ban PK - Now That is the Question!

PK is a new Indian comedy-drama film starring Aamir Khan and Anushka Sharma. The movie has been directed by Rajkumar Hirani (who is also one of the film's producers) and written by Hirani and Abhijat Joshi.  Since its release on December 19, 2014, the film has been surrounded by controversy, sharp reactions, and calls to ban screening and nationwide protests from right-wing Hindu groups.

Reports indicate that a case has actually been registered against the director, producer and actor of PK on the grounds that the movie includes deliberate and malicious acts that are intended to outrage the religious feelings of people and that it promotes enmity between people on grounds of religion, race, place of birth and language.

Allegations are being thrown in all directions. Claims that the movie hurts religious sentiments have been rampant in the print and social media. #BoycottPK has been trending on Twitter quite aggressively and people are expressing displeasure over the movie's story and concept.  Some have gone so far as to say that financing for the film has come from Dubai and the ISI.

There is no doubt the movie openly criticizes Hindu gods and goddesses and brings to light certain elements of Hindu culture and religion. However, it is important to understand that while open in its message, the movie does not specifically target one particular sect. 

Majority of the members of the PK team are Hindus. Their argument is that it was not their intention to hurt the sentiments of Hindus but to simply communicate the concept that it does not matter which religion, race or caste you belong to, it is actually the humanity in you that matters. Everyone is created equal and the important thing is to accept each other with open hearts instead of creating divisions and sects in the name of religion.

I believe the problem is more with the hesitation to accept the movie’s message rather than its actual content. I find it amusing that even the poster featuring Aamir Khan wearing nothing but a radio transistor has been labeled offensive. This is really funny considering the fact that Indian actresses hardly wear any clothes in many of their screen appearances. Discrimination much?

Personally, I loved the movie. I do think it was a bit aggressive in communicating the concept that no matter where you pray or who you pray to, everyone's God is one and the same but at the same time, the society we are living in today and the events happening around us require such messages to be communicated.

In one of the scenes, Aamir Khan says, "kaun hindu, kaun musalman? thappa kidhar hai dikha. ye farq bhagwan nahee tum log banaya hai." ("Who is Hindu, Who is Muslim? Show me the stamp? You are the ones who have created this difference, not God") I think he says it all in this one sentence alone.

Despite the protests and the indignation, there are people around the world who absolutely love the movie. The movie has been hugely successful so far and has already grossed more than £49.1 million worldwide in only its first two weeks. To date, it is the second most successful Bollywood film of all time. At the rate it’s going, there is no doubt that it will overtake Dhoom 3's £54.7 million and create box office history.

Aamir Khan is one of the biggest stars of Bollywood. He is not a typical actor. When you watch an Aamir Khan movie, you can be sure it is not going to be the typical run-of-the-mill Bollywood entertainment with men and women dancing around trees and the hero killing a hundred goons with a six-shot revolver. No. With Aamir Khan, you get movies on subjects that are different; that are relevant to society; and that have an underlying message in them. I think the film should be appreciated for its social goals and the PK team should be admired for its courage to communicate to the world that religion should not be a source of division but something that should be used to make us one.

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