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‘PK’ becomes highest-grossing Bollywood movie, stokes controversy

PK, which is in its second month of release, has so far grossed INR 647 crore (approximately $110 million) worldwide, according to industry estimates. The movie is still topping the charts, beating out other new entrants.

The movie revolves around an alien, played by actor Aamir Khan, who crash lands on earth, and is in search of spare parts to repair his spacecraft. During his search, he is told by various people that only God can help him, prompting a search for this “god.” The movie uses the plot to criticize religious conflict as well as Hindu gurus. The alien finds that most people claiming to know God are taking the masses for a ride.

Popular yoga guru Baba Ramdev has said that the movie seems to apply double standards to various religions. “People think ten times before making any comment about Christianity or Islam, but when it comes to Hinduism, it’s a free-for-all,” Ramdev said. A majority of India’s population is Hindu, though the nation is itself a secular republic. However, with the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Narendra Modi, who have placed greater emphasis on traditional identities and role models such as the philosopher Vivekananda, political parties have been accusing each other of either pandering to minority groups, or the majority Hindus.

Rajkumar Hirani, the film’s maker, has clarified that the movie is not intended to target any particular group. “With PK, I am saying that we are humans first and not Hindus or Muslims,” said Hirani. “Today, the biggest challenge we face is people fighting over religions and trying to prove that their God is the best. And people are even ready to kill to safeguard their religion.” He clarified further, “And it’s not that we haven’t talked about Islam. In one scene, a girl talks about fatwa being issued about girls who want to study. The blast scene was a clear indication that it was the work of Islamic terrorists.”

The controversy has worked out well for the movie’s financial fortunes though, with its collections beating the next highest-grossing movie, Dhoom 3, by INR 100 crores ($15 million).

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