With PK, Khan and Hirani have struck gold once more

Aamir Khan and Rajkumar Hirani have created a film that addresses controversial subjects with humour and without preaching.

Aamir Khan is lofted on the shoulders of Sanjay Dutt among others in PK, which looks set to rule the box office. Courtesy Rajkumar Hirani Films
Powered by automated translation


Directed by: Rajkumar Hirani

Starring: Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma

Four stars

Five years after his blockbuster 3 Idiots hit cinemas, Rajkumar Hirani has returned with another heartwarming drama that takes on a new set of controversial issues.

While 3 Idiots shone the spotlight on students buckling under India's rigid, unforgiving education system, and the parents who expect them to emerge from it as valedictorians, PK has its sights set on bigger things: God and religion.

Aamir Khan, who starred as the indomitable whizz-kid Rancho in 3 Idiots, portrays an alien who has been sent to Earth to live among humans and learn their ways. But minutes after he lands – in a quiet corner of Rajasthan, where the mothership randomly deposits him – his homing device is stolen.

And so the extraterrestrial goes looking for it (and clothes, because he finds out quickly enough that Earthlings, at least in India, have a problem with nudity). He ends up on an adventure of sorts and has a series of encounters – some fun, others terrifying – with the inhabitants of this strange planet who lie, cheat, steal and generally behave despicably.

He is soon given the name PK – "peekay" is Hindi for drunk, something he is accused of every time he fails to comprehend the ways of the world.

Then, as he strives to understand these complicated human beings and track down his property – which has ended up in the hands of a not-so-­holy godman – a frustrated PK discovers religion, and this is where Hirani excels.

Never preachy or high-­handed, the filmmaker is an expert at presenting complicated concepts in the simplest of ways. In PK, he takes what we already know – that religion can be more divisive than unifying – and illustrates this through a script so well-written, all Khan had to do was execute it.

It’s hard to imagine any other actor doing justice to this role – every gag is superbly timed, every monologue equally rousing and tear-jerking. Khan is simply brilliant as the puzzled, simple-minded alien who’s doing his best to survive in a hostile environment without losing his sense of self or compromising his inherent honesty.

While PK is out-and-out an Aamir Khan film, Hirani manages to coax the best out of the other actors, too.

The young Anushka Sharma sensitively portrays a television journalist looking for the scoop of her career while nursing a broken heart. Boman Irani and Sanjay Dutt are hilarious in their cameos, and Sushant Singh Raj­put is inspired as Sharma’s love interest, a small plotline that appears briefly at the start of the film only to loop back at the end in a satisfyingly neat way. But there’s more: look out for the surprise appearance by a Bolly­wood heart-throb in the final scene.

Judging by the audience’s reaction, Hirani and Khan have done it again. Only this time, it’s bigger, it’s better, and it’s going to smash the box office faster than you can say Happy New Year.