'PK' Protestors Have a Wrong Number

 (Mohd Asim is Senior News Editor, NDTV 24x7)

PK is a cracker of a film. But some crackpots can't get it. There is a breed amongst us that just loves to hate any creative expression. And they resort to threats, thuggery and hooliganism if that piece of art remotely deals with religion, be it a painting, a book, a movie or a play.

These thugs are available in all shades and religious denominations in our country. Last year, the Muslims versions came after Kamal Hassan's Vishwaroopam, claiming that it painted a bad picture of Islam and hurt their religious sentiments. I was agitated then (Read it here: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/blog-i-m-a-muslim-indian-and-i-m-with-kamal-haasan-324292) and I am agitated today as a different lot has now come breathing communal and parochial fire against PK.

It's a repeat telecast. Just replace the beards with saffron scarfs and tilaks. The only difference being that no one called Kamal Hassan anti-national or a traitor. He was labelled anti-Muslim. Today, Aamir Khan is being labelled not just anti-Hindu, but also anti-national. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has made an outlandish 'expose' on PK's funding, insinuating that it was funded by some underworld-terror syndicate. For him PK is not just an "anti-Hindu" film, but a grand "anti-India project".

And all his filth is only directed at Aamir Khan. He seems to conveniently forget that the movie is produced by Rajkumar Hirani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Siddharth Roy Kapur, and that it is directed by Rajkumar Hirani. So Dr Swamy, Aamir Khan can at best be blamed for playing his part in the movie and nothing more. But logic and facts as usual evade Dr Swamy. Hirani, Kapur and Chopra are boring names for him to pick on. His dirty politics can be played only in the name of Aamir Khan.

I am just curious about whether Dr Swamy and his fans also did some nationalistic investigation into the funding of another release, Oh My God, in 2012. It starred one of the finest actors today -  Paresh Rawal, who is now a BJP MP, and whose film was a  much more scathing a satire on Gods and godmen.

Let's talk about PK a bit. It demolishes, brick by brick, the institutions that religions have become today. It lifts the veil of spirituality from the faces of self-declared Godmen and pulls the rug from under their feet. And none are spared. Temples, mosques, churches all get it from PK in equal measure with the best weapon - humour.

For those who could only see Hindu Gods and Godmen being made fun of, please recall the scene where PK is seen carrying two bottles of wine to a Muslim place of worship. The song being played on his radio are famous lines by Ghalib: "Ghalib sharab peene de masjid baith kar, ya woh jagah bata jahan khuda nahi" (Let me drink in the mosque or tell me a place where there is no God) . Take a gulp. Here PK hits at the misguided notion of some holy places and the hypocrisy of the "faithful" who on the one hand claim that their god is omni-present and on the other imprison him within the four walls of a mosque or a temple or a church.

Or take that funny scene from the church where PK is amazed to know that the God here loves wine while the other God in a temple loved nariyal paani.

PK strips religions and gods of all rituals and make up. The godman is exposed, and the God is set free. It also tells us that if there's a relation one need to have with his/her God, it is that of love, not fear, as the managers of religions desire.  It urges its audiences to pause and think for a moment. Are we worshipping a God or the Godman/mullah/priest? Do we love our God or fear him/her?

PK also raps our hypocritical society about issues like sex. We all do it, but don't talk about it.

In another part, PK is baffled that Mahatma Gandhi's photograph is only respected on a currency note.

That PK's message is amusing and not  offensive  as claimed by protestors is evident from the fact that the country in general is loving it. The biggest test of a movie is the box office. People are coming out of theatres smiling, not nursing their hurt sentiments.  The protests and vandalism at theatres have not scared the people away. It can't be a coincidence that those protesting against the movie eerily resemble the characters in it.

Aamir Khan has till now rightly maintained a graceful silence on the issue. He need not shout from the roof top that he has only acted in an intelligent film and not participated in some anti-Hindu or anti-India mission.

The thumbs up from the audiences have made it clear that the likes of Dr Swamy and the VHP are dialing, what PK would describe as a wrong number. I am sure if they ever really encounter PK themselves, he will smile at them and ask "Pee Kay hain kya?"

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