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PK is quite simply, the best Indian movie made in a long time. It takes on India’s holiest cow – religion, skewers it, roasts it on the brilliant fire of a great script and uses humour as a tasty marinade to make the dish not just palatable, but delicious.

Too many people have written about the story and the script for me to repeat it. I will stop at saying that the set-up of the context is brilliant, the treatment topical and contemporary, and the depiction of the modern world’s incestuous interplay between religion, media – both TV and social, technology and the common man, nothing short of outstanding. The only modern scoundrels spared are politics and big business.

What makes PK stand out is the essential boldness to call out the difference between God and religion. The search for a God-given solution to a personal crisis is portrayed so truly, and so hilariously, it must have made many lovers of the “ritualism over substance” school squirm.

The depiction of how each religion projects itself as the one truth yet confuses the hell out of the unknowing supplicant with all their contradictions is one of the finest parts of a movie of many fine parts. Fast on Monday or on Tuesday, fast till the sun rises or the moon, take off your slippers or wear shoes, cover your head or leave it uncovered, and the best one: offer coconut water or wine or no alcohol at all. Each piece of hypocrisy, peddled by the makers of religion, is shown up for what it is, through the stunning cinematic lens of an alien asking simply unanswerable questions.

 

If each of us stopped to think how absurd some of what we do must seem to a child who gained consciousness only at age 16, we’d be amazed.

 

Would Jesus or Mohammed or Krishna recognise how their inspirational teachings about the greatness of God, have been subverted to serve the power cravings of a few megalomaniacs?

PK’s most brilliant moments are in the few scenes that are like sharp kitchen knives that any Japanese chef would be proud to wield.

The first (and my favourite) is when PK characterises each religion as a company run by managers and is confused as to which company he needs to join.

His second revelation was that the calls from the faithful must be going to a ‘wrong number’, and there is someone playing a prank at the other end of the line. (The set up that leads to this conclusion is a wonderfully scripted little scene).

The third was when he says that surely no merciful, loving God would make his followers undergo the pain they are forced to endure by the “managers”. (He would have made Dawkins proud!)

And the final one is PK’s delightful answer to the question “if not God, who will sustain people? Where will they get hope from?” The incisive “right number” he provides is that “yes, we need a true God to sustain us in moments of trouble and give us hope. But the “managers” have created a fraud God, one who seems to rule by fear’.

 

Ultimately, this is PK’s message. It exposes religion, especially organised religion, for what it is: a money-grabbing power play. A few men have claimed the sole right to interpret God, to lay down rules for the rest of us, and so they profit and gain messianic power. For PK, the real God needs no such intermediary, we all have a direct line to him.

PK brilliantly does what documentaries, science, atheists, rationalists, the likes of Richard Dawkins, with their appeal to reason have struggled to take beyond a niche audience. It makes the most uncomfortable of truths edible to practically everyone, that while God is worth seeking, religion has become the greatest fraud in the world.

And it does so with the most elegant of weapons. It was Mary Hirsch who said “humour is like a rubber-edged sword, it allows you to make a point without drawing blood”. PK must be the sharpest rubber-edged sword ever made. It draws copious blood, makes plenty of sharp points, but does so painlessly, like a great doctor who is treating a small child.

There will be the idiots who say this is anti-Hindu (I can already hear the ‘which other religion would tolerate this’ brigade up in arms). Some will say that this is anti-God. The truth is that it hurts them because they see themselves and their little hypocrisies stiletto-ed to death by a 1000 cuts in every scene of the movie. The truth is that they cannot handle the fact that PK’s simple questions are just unanswerable.

Has there ever been a more universal destruction of the false prophet of religion? Not to my knowledge. Not anywhere in the world. Take this movie anywhere and everyone will instantly recognise its message. Change the religion to Islam or Christianity and the managers to mullahs or priests and people will get it too.

Yes, there will always something to cavil about: songs, some Bollywood melodrama, a too-buff Amir, an overtly Indian setting, etc. But its setting in a country obsessed with religion actually amplifies the message in the same way that Kurosawa’s Japanese settings brought home many universally relevant truths.

PK is universally relevant. Pope Francis would approve of it wholeheartedly. Isn’t he saying the same things when he excoriates the Curia and when he says “who am I to judge”? The Dalai Lama would approve of the Buddha like quest for the truth, as would the great Sufi poets who preached Tawhid or oneness. Gandhi would have loved the impish humour behind the God images placed on each cheek.

PK deserves to be shown to every child in every school in India. Over and over again. At assembly time, every morning. It is not anti-God, it is anti-organised-religion. And for that very reason, it will not be. After all, who controls the majority of schools in India, but religious trusts of every hue). But it should be.

God bless R K Hirani and Aamir Khan and their delightful crew and cast, right down to the person who did the sub-titles, for making a fine movie, one that is globally relevant but just happens to be set in India.

And for delivering an epic carve-up of the world’s most destructive force – organised religion.

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