Monday, December 22, 2014

Reading PK





1. Anger is Comedy
Bill Hicks, George Carlin.. most comedy is  disguised tension.
Raju Hirani's brilliance is in channelling that anger seamlessly into a narrative that flows from seemingly light-hearted comedy (even when it is subversive) to empathetic realisation. In act-one of his films, you laugh. In act-two you can't help but cry with mirth/ empathy. This is why his Munnabhai films are classics. Your reactions are not voluntary. the jokes do make you laugh, and the denouement does make you cry. With PK, Hirani got the first part very well - subversive comedy that gets laughs and nods. The second part however, seemed to lack in empathy. Anger as comedy worked, anger realised was 'lull'.

2. To think or to feel?
 Maybe it was the wooden performance by Aamir Khan who is supposed to be an alien. Maybe, it was the paternalistic tone of the film that tries to teach people a little too hard. But mostly, it was the lack of clarity in script. Who were we supposed to root for? alien PK, botox lips or the god?
This film is different from other films of his because this film aimed to make us think instead of making us feel. now the business of making people think of something is a different game altogether. The narrative needs to be tighter. The climax should come with a forceful surprise or impact to crowd-out any other thoughts. Or, the logic of the movie's universe needs to be quickly established and then you need to be smart with that logic's ramifications. But it wasn't that kind of movie.

3. Lazy writing/ single metaphor pony
His movies are in service of his world-view. Munnabhai 1 wanted a world where hospital care was empathetic instead of being apathetic and clinical. Munnabhai 2 wanted a world where the elders had dignified identity. PK wanted a world where false godmen don't exist.
While Munnabhai movies proposed these worldviews with stories of intimate relationships, PK proposed its worldview in the form of a bland TV debate.And there have been just too many movies with denouements like those. eg. Nayak, Ungli and so on. The template is thus - a social concern goes viral, the virality justifies emotions/ acts, and then climax on the News channel program with the bad guy losing out the battle of entertaining glazed eye balls.
Hirani is no doubt a genius story teller. And that makes me wonder why did he use this lazy template for his film. Couldn't he explore better ways to build the climax - perhaps PK holds the godman's hands (alien jaadu ki jhappi), perhaps the godmen's characters are given more depth instead of caricatures. (Good idea for a film here - exploring the making a godmen). Instead of being a reporter, what if Anoushka was a bhakt/ sadhvi of the guru whose illusions are cleared by PK? This way her liberation would have been more poignant, instead of the weak ass climax of her Belgium based relationship. (again a concern of upper middle class person) Perhaps this has to do with class of audience. Did the makers consciously chose an upper middle class godman and climax (media endorsed world view)?
Anyways, this movie is not for the under class. Apparently, the makers are arm twisting cineplex owners and single screen theatre owners to raise the ticket price so that they could quickly ascend to the '100 crore' club. In effect pricing the lower middle class out of the theatres.

4. Toxic obsession about 100 crore clubs/ a movie for upper classes
This dumb tweet is apparently trending today.
"Aamir Khan: Actor's new film, 'PK,' surpasses Rs 50 crore but fails to set record on opening weekend."
 It is not about the story, nor about the issue it raises. It is about how much it has earned. People do not watch movies these days. They watch the making of fantastic billionaires.
This trending topic proves that the movie has been ineffective in raising the issues it was supposed to be raising. No one is questioning godmen after this. no one is calling 'wrong number' on fakesters. They are simply watching the makers add another fortune to their name.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

hyperlinked minds

Here's a challenge for the digitally connected, compulsive media consumer you.

For a complete day, can you converse (with someone else or with yourself) without referencing any idea/ thought/ incidence/ information that has come from outside of your own head? so no use of cultural phrases, metaphors, tropes, news items, memes or previously narrated experiences.
The only exception is the use of language in its basic form. (commonly used words meant literally)

Experiment 2:
Spend a day conscious of thoughts that are not yours.

Experiment 3:
Spend a day conscious of the meaning of what we say during the day. how much of it actually makes sense? (How many people actually know what they are talking about anyways?)