In his seminal work “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, the great German philosopher Nietzche gave the world the concept of Übermensch or “over-man”. Widely misinterpreted through the ages, Hitler for instance used it as the philosophical underpinngs of Aryan superority, Übermensch is a notional anthropomorphization of “ultra-humanism”, a supreme being who while being infallible and possessing the power to create not just worlds but also values, is still not a God, because he is, by definition, human.
So I saw PK.
How was it?
TLDR: It’s a three-hour long episode of Satyamev Jayate.
For those of you who have not seen this program, which strongly makes me believe that you are not the kind that stops at a stop sign, Satyamev Jayate can be summarized as “social activism for those of us that like to watch Big Boss but feel guilty “. It picks a certain “problem of the week”, like police reforms or corruption or doctors, and then runs through an hour of over-explaining and music and appropriately emotioned-up guests. The USP of the program, the reason why people watch it, is of course Method-Actor Khan (known to mortals as Aamir Khan) for whom Satyamev Jayate is a perfect prop for his carefully cultivated image as a socially conscientious superstar. Cycling through various expressions, “the-oh-my-God-I-had-no-idea” (“Apko police ne yeh kaha?”) as if he is hearing the guest’s story for the first time, “the-oh-my-God-I-so-feel-for-you” eyes-welling-up-with-tasteful-tears, Mr. Khan straddles perfectly that grey area between reality and choreography, between the person and the persona, and if the topic of the week does not keep you watching, or that sharp prick on your conscience if your finger goes to the remote control to change the channel, Aamir Khan’s performance sure does.
Like Satyamev Jayate, PK too has a “problem of the week”, long passages of preachy exposition, poking-in-eye messaging, and each one of Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate stock facial expressions. Except being an alien, his innocent “I-had-no-idea” face makes a little more sense, though for old-hands like us, there is a bit too much of the Main Kahaan Hoon Tiloo from “Andaz Apna Apna” and one of the characters he played in Dhoom 3, for me to be overtly blown away by the acting. Just as Satyamev Jayate, despite its flaws, is an improvement on the brainless muck that passes for entertainment on Indian television, PK is definitely better than the “Bang Bangs” and the “Ready”s, a low bar surely, somewhat like complimenting a fast bowler for bowling faster than Venkatesh Prasad.
It had a lot going for it, like Mr. Perfectionist’s perfect derriere, though obfuscated by mist, Raju Hirani at the helm, and some funny sequences involving pee-ing, peek-ing, peekaying and anal-probing, which I would perhaps have better appreciated if I was nine years old
However it is let down by two major cinematic boo-boos.
I, like many others of my generation, grew up on an oily diet of Kashmir masala films.
Roja. Which, besides introducing this guy called A R Rahman, gave hope to boys like me that you could have a physique like ArvindSwamy but still get to curl your fingers around the shapely waist of a Madhu, if you play the marriage cards right or if the script-writer writes that in the script for you.
Pukaar. Where sinister plots from across the border are spoiled by Anil Kapoor’s verdant chest hair.
Mission Kashmir. A convicted Bombay Blast accused played a patriotic cop and where the man who single-handedly wiped out polio played a terrorist.
Countless other action films, their names a-blur, typically starring Sunny Deol, in which all laws of physics and common sense could be violated as long as Pakistani ass was being mausichi-ed.
The rhetoric was simple. Pakistan was evil, India was good, Kashmiris were misguided and all would be well in the end if the pesky Pakistanis and their agents were demolished.
When I came out of the theater after seeing Haider, I was happy I had seen a film that had flipped the formula. I was happy that finally the censors were letting audiences decide what was wrong and what was right and that there were no bans or stay-orders or any of the other silliness that has so stifled the free expression of ideas in India, a fact that was doubly surprising given that our wise mediwallahs had been prophesying a dystopian Hitlerian Bharat of suppress-oppress-depress ever since that man took over.
I haven’t seen Humshakals.
After becoming a father and with the World Cup on, free-time is at such a premium that I don’t think I would have a few hours to destroy on something I have already seen before.
I know I just contradicted myself.
I have seen Humshakals.
As a matter of fact I have seen it many times.
Winston Churchill had once said about Russia, “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”.
The Red Rose, (a scene-by-scene remake of a Kamal Hassan and Sridevi Tamil movie) is a Russia, wrapped in Russia, inside a Russia, so convoluted and complex it is, with its nested riddles, mysteries and enigmas.
Is Red Rose, with its themes of perversion, voyeurism, gratuitous gore, sexuality, verdant chest-hair and mammaries (only Om Shivpuri’s is shown) , an Indianized tribute to the Japanese pinku eiga or the Hong Kong Cat III or the Giallo genre of Italy?
One of the many things I do not understand about the world is why people would pay money in a theater to see Sunny Leone in a half state of undress doing tepid things that would pass through the sieve of Indian censors when they can see her fully RTI-ed online doing bahoot hi krantikaari stuff for free.
It’s like someone getting a business class upgrade and then sitting coach-class right next to the lavatories, where the seats don’t even go back.
I never get it.
Because that’s all Ragini MMS 2 is.
Sunny Leone in lingerie and baby dolls and a song that has the words “baby doll”.
The first Ragini MMS was a passably good horror Hindi movie, given the severe restrictions of the Indian horror genre, stuck as it is in the scantily-clad lass in peril mode since the days of Ramsays. There were some nicely done moments, Rajkummar Rao is always good in whatever crappy role he is put in, and Kainaz Motivala’s demurely voluptuous charms captured through strategically-placed cams I at least understood the artistic reason for.
But Ragini MMS 2, with Sunny Leone playing a character called Sunny in the same way Himesh Reshammiya plays characters called Himesh (Himesh’s gratuitous cleavage being a horror movie in itself), is a disaster in every sense of the term.
I have known the director of Gulaab Gang, Soumik Sen, for years now through my blog and have had the good fortune of meeting him at the reading of “The Mine”. When his movie came out, I knew I had to go see it but the problem with seeing anything done by a friend is that it is difficult to be totally unbiased. Also you are kind of afraid of not liking it. What do you do then? Pretend that you didn’t see it. Be brutally honest and say the truth? Since I write books and my friends read them, I am intensely conscious of the same dilemma that I put them in and always wonder how much knowing me affects their perception of the book.
Anyways, I went to see Gulaab Gang, trying to be as fair as possible, determined to tell the truth no matter how it turned out.
I loved Gulaab Gang.
Of course, I will accept my bias here, not for Soumik but for Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla.
I grew up on them. I lived QSQT and Tezaab. I will also accept my bias for old school Bollywood, sans the nauseating wannabeness of what has come to sully its good-name, a Bollywood of larger-than-life characters and conflicts, script-writers who could craft memorable lines and actors who could deliver them. Dilip Kumar. Raj Kumar. Shotgun. Amitabh. Sunny. Dharam. Prabhuji. Gulaab Gang stays true to the spirit of that masala Bollywood. And in a refreshing departure from current fashion, it is reverential to its roots rather than mocking in the way the Dabangg, Singham and that Rohit Shetty-Akshay-Kumar-Ajay-whatever-how-he-spells-his-last-name-as-now school of forty-feet-jumping trucks is, where the conventions of classic Bollywood are extravagantly exaggerated and played for comedy and nothing else.