One aspect of society where a lot could be changed: Check. (The medical field, construction business and telling lies, the educational field, religion.)
A Heroine who makes the protagonist feel for a cause that’s actually social: From social to personal, to social: Check. (Gracy Singh was the doctor who Munna fell for, Vidya Balan the radio host who pulled him into the old age home cause, and Anushka Sharma the journo who pulls PK into the murky waters of religion.)
A Villain who is more comic than one who seriously poses a threat: Check. (Fortunately Boman Irani in the first two Munnabhais was a worthy adversary able to cause great loss to the hero when he wanted to. In 3 Idiots, in their very first interaction itself, Aamir pretty much defeats Boman Irani in public and even post that it’s only much later that Boman Irani’s character is able to cause any damage at all to the super heroic Rancho. And it’s only gotten worse post 3 idiots where the Villain is totally powerless.)
A Public Showdown where the villain exposes some emotional weakness and almost makes the hero lose, before a comeback and a final victory: Check. (The public showdown in the medical college, the public showdown between Lucky Singh and Munna where he admits to seeing Gandhi, a public showdown between the Swamy and PK, the public showdown between Aamir and the principal.
A Word that needs to become part of pop vocabulary that is metaphoric: Jadu ki jhappi, Aal is well, Get well soon and now ‘Wrong number’: Check.
Montage at the end of many people affected by this new word and how it changes lives: Check. (The Aal is well montage, the Jadu ki jhappi montage, the Get well soon montage, the Wrong number montage)
Unfortunately, despite what started out as an honest intention, Raju Hirani’s films have become stuck in a formula.
The painful and sad part is that their inherent stories are becoming weaker and weaker with every film, though one isn’t debating the intention, I personally feel the strength of the intention is and must be intertwined with a good story.
Munnabhai MBBS, still Hirani’s best work had a protagonist who wasn’t out to do good. He lived in his limited universe and is a very believable man who’s being good is an accident, not something he likes to throw around in people’s faces. Munna Bhai therefore was Hirani’s most likeable and honest protagonist. And Circuit an even more endearing character, not unlike Hanuman to Munna’s Ram. They didn’t go around trying to change the world, they didn’t go around talking down to people about life, talking to the world as if the whole world was a kindergarten class, solving world issues with some smart dialogue. They were in hard lives of their own with regular issues of common day, and they only wanted to solve their own issues like real people do. Accidentally these issues at some point became larger than them and this made it so much more natural.
With the advent of Aamir in Hirani’s films, a new type of character was born, literally a ‘Superhero’, who comes from outside, and not inside a system, someone who is an outsider to a world, comes in, talks down to its people, solves their issues in a jiffy, has no real loss himself, uses witty dialogue to just take care of issues in the snap of a finger and walk out, having thus changed the world. The problem with this new character is that he isn’t real.
Munna and Circuit were always part of this world, not otherworldly. They had something to lose, they had real lives, they didn’t waltz around spewing philosophy, solving issues with smart dialogue, they really felt pain, got hurt, they were the ones who had the most to lose, always as much as the people who’s lives they’d entered.
PK has smart dialogue and maybe an honest intention but then I find it tough to see an honest intention when a filmmaker isn’t able to break free of formula. Holding a rope tight and setting forth into an ocean isn’t poetic. Letting go off a rope and jumping into the unknown to explore territories previously uncharted is poetic.
Every plot turn is so contrived it almost hurts to watch it, right from the convenience of Sarfaraz’s break up with Jaggu, to how the villain, Swamy, is forcibly linked so easily with the magical amulet. It’s like someone took the arm of the story and twisted it till the story agreed to go where the writer wanted, rather than go where it should naturally and in an organic manner. The TV channel owner suddenly agrees to do a national show on PK for no good reason even though his earlier stance was exactly the opposite when it came to the Swamy, the love story post the interval is totally forced and the whole sacrifice angle is even more of a force fit. And for the life of me I couldn’t understand why Aamir needed a six pack for this film with shoulders that looked like he was carved out of stone. This isn’t the Terminator. He isn’t a killing machine but a soft emotional social guy. So why this need for a physique that needs to be shown off the first chance they get; another unfortunate formula in each and every blockbuster film nowadays.
And in terms of an intention this film didn’t cover even one single aspect more about this world of religion that Oh My God didn’t. And even that was far from an original thought. It doesn’t really go deep into this whole issue at all. Just enough to be entertaining and play safe.
Is it better to have a film like this than a Dabangg or a Ready, yes to me, definitely it is. But are we losing good stories with strong characters overall in our blockbuster films; most definitely. And that’s a painful, unfortunate truth. Maybe a Munnabhai needs to come into the world of film stories and correct that too, soon.
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