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Rediff.com  » Movies » Review: PK, a mixed bag of spunk and sentimentality

Review: PK, a mixed bag of spunk and sentimentality

Last updated on: December 19, 2014 16:15 IST

Aamir Khan and Anushka Sharma in PKWhen PK works, it does with great merit. When it does not, it sermonises, says Sukanya Verma.

Among showmen and whiz kids, game changers and auteurs resides a genial filmmaker, a fairy godmother the disenchanted audience badly needs.

Rajkumar Hirani could easily be mistaken for that kindly neighbour in one's building, the sort who greets you in the lift with a warm smile and offers to help you with the grocery bags.

But mostly he's the genius generator of best-selling philosophies like jadoo ki jhappi, Gandhigiri and All izz well -- persistently seeking some good in a dark world through oddball protagonists driven by curiosity and a desire to repair defective mind-sets.

It's the foundation of all his features, be it Munnabhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munnabhai, 3 Idiots and, now, PK.

Somewhere through the frolic, in playing society's self-appointed conscience, Hirani has fallen in a monotonous, predictable rut.

In PK, he tackles the widespread evils of religion-dictated farce in this country, the bizarre rituals it entails whilst acknowledging the distinction of a divine presence from idol worship.

The Paresh Rawal-starrer OMG-Oh My God, a satire I quite relished -- in fact a tad more than PK -- raised similar concerns through hard-hitting rationality and an element of mythological fantasy.

Part comedy, part drama, PK opts to share its genre specification with science fiction.

To get across his point, Hirani appoints Aamir Khan to play PK, a freakier, flashier version of 3 Idiots' Rancho.

The actor, given his newfound comfort in the socially aware, is on the same wavelength as his director resulting in a performance that is flamboyant enough to make a splash.

One sees a lot more of him than is accustomed to in PK. While it's not pin-up material, it's refreshing to see a mainstream star in such an uninhibited space.

During the course of his quest to return home, filled with madcap discoveries regarding God, fashion, music, language (watch out for one hilarious achha scene), social etiquette and self-defence (who knew Hanuman stickers could come in so handy?), PK bumps into a pixie-hair television journalist Jaggu Sahni with daddy issues (Anushka Sharma) and they join forces to blow off the whistle on a flimflam Godman (Saurabh Shukla is a hoot).

Before arriving to the story's simplistic and lacklustre conclusion that points out to Hirani's chronic weakness -- too much sentimentality -- PK moves at a buoyant pace.

Save for the Aamir-Sanjay Dutt track, Tharki Chokro, which feels needless and punctures the narrative momentarily.

Music, as in the case of most Hirani films, is not a strong point in PK. His fluency shines in storytelling. Even the most mawkish moments scrape through largely on his conviction and his actors' charm.

Most of the initial film is centred on Aamir's unique logic, wherein he uses a cycle lock to safeguard his chappals from temple thieves, pees on the walls of Delhi's Red Fort (the notoriously picky censor board did not mind?) and tries to barter food for Gandhi's pictures presuming it's the man and not the moolah that carries worth.

Considering how rare it is when the hero and heroine do not romance one another, the dynamics of a high strung Aamir and sunlit Anushka's animated chemistry are more Lilo & Stitch than, say, Shrek and Fiona.

Beneath its vibrant bouts of humour, PK mocks at the societal arrangement we have grown apathetic to. Those jokes are ultimately nothing but PK's sarcasm at the expense of our collective desperation that wagers to chance and dubs it a miracle, rejoices in disparity, exhorts fear and has forgotten their fundamental right to question.

When PK works, it does with great merit, spunk and surprise.

When it does not, it meanders, sermonises and guilt trips exactly in the tone of the one it reproaches.

Rediff Rating:

Sukanya Verma