Aamir Khan-starrer ‘PK’, which takes a swipe at organised religion and godmen, was today at the centre of a controversy with Hindu outfits demanding a ban on the film for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
The film, which earned Rs 214 crore in the first nine days after its release on December 19, has sparked protests by Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and All India India Mahasabha while police complaints have been filed in several parts of country alleging that it mocked Hindu gods and its contents were “highly provocative”.
Yoga guru Ramdev today demanded that the movie should be boycotted and all those associated with it “ostracised” from society.
While the right wing leaders lashed out at Aamir insinuating that he “insulted” Hindu religion because he was a Muslim, the actor has said, “We respect all religions. All my Hindu friends have seen the film and they have not felt the same”.
“Even Raju (Hirani) is Hindu, so is Vinod (Chopra) and so is Abhijat (Joshi). In fact 99 per cent of the crew was Hindu. No one would have done such a thing,” the actor said, referring to the director, producer and the scriptwriter of the film.
Swami Chakrapani of Hindu Mahasbha alleged that the film’s depiction of ‘gow mata’, Hindu deities like Lord Shiva is an “insult of Sanatan Dharm”.
“The way they have questioned the making of pilgrimage to Amarnath…. And they have deliberately given such comments so that their film is a hit and they earn more money,” he said, adding, “They have hurt the sentiments of all religions and all should get together to ensure this does not happen”.
“When it is about Christianity or Islam, people think 100 times before they speak anything (against the religions). But when they talk about Hinduism, people say or show whatever comes to their mind without giving it even a single thought. This is shameful,” Ramdev told reporters in Mumbai.
“People who speak in a bad light about Hindu culture should be ostracised from the society and their films should also be shunned by the people,” he said.
While the Censor Board too earned the ire of the protesting outfits, its chief Leela Samson said the Board will not remove any scenes from the film.
“Every film may hurt religious sentiments of somebody or the other. We can’t remove scenes unnecessarily because there is something called creative endeavour where people present things in their own way,” the Chairperson of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) said
“We have already given certificate to ‘PK’ and we can’t remove anything now because it’s already out for public viewing,” she told PTI.
Meanwhile, Muslim religious leaders today supported the demand for ban on alleged “objectionable” scenes in the film to ensure that communal harmony is not disturbed.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) member Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahali and Maqsood Qasmi of the Imam Council said the Constitution does not permit demeaning or degrading of any religion.
FIRs have been filed in Delhi, Hyderabad, Thane and other cities objecting to the film’s content.
Defending the depiction of religion in his film, Hirani said “the core idea of the film is that we are not born with a birthmark -proclaiming we are Hindus or Muslims or Sikhs or Christians” and are made to follow a certain lifestyle and perform certain rituals.
“We decided to have Aamir as an alien, which meant he too did not have any idea or notions about what religion is here on Earth,” he said.
However, Farangi Mahali said in the current scenario, film-makers should exercise caution.
“Freedom of expression does not mean hurting someone’s sentiments. If there are such scenes, the Censor Board should remove them so that communal harmony is not disturbed.
“The way atmosphere of the country and UP was vitiated, small matters are blown out of proportion and issues like ‘Love Jihad’ and conversion were being raised, it is the need of the hour to take precautions while making films,” he said.
“If a movie had material that hurt religious sentiments, especially when it is played by a Muslim, who played a Hindu character, it could be taken otherwise,” the Maulana said.
However, Qasmi felt the way Hindu oufits were protesting was questionable.
“They should protest outside the house of L K Advani,” he said apparently referring the the BJP patriarch’s praise for the film.
Advani had reportedly termed PK as a “wonderful and courageous film”.
Religious leader Acharya Pramod Krishnan decried the protests against the film.
“Films are a mirror of society and Aamir Khan’s movie is reflecting the ills. Action should be taken against those opposing it,” he said.
He alleged that fanatic outfits which exploit religion and take advantage of it are opposing the film as they have been exposed.
The film had earlier attracted controversy over its poster which showed Aamir bare-bodied except for a transistor covering his private parts.
The Supreme Court had in August refused to entertain a public interest litigation seeking ban on the release of PK for promoting nudity and vulgarity.
Dismissing the plea, the apex court had told the petitioner, “If you don’t like then don’t watch the film but don’t bring religious facets in it”, adding that, “these are matters of art and entertainment and let them remain so.”
The petition, filed by All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front, had alleged that the film promotes nudity and pleaded the apex court to immediately intervene in the matter.
However, the court, had said, “any restrictions on release of film would affect constitutional right of the film makers”.