Aamir Khan-starrer PK, which caricatures a godman and questions the “exploitation” of the faithful by the “managers” of religions, has angered religious heads, spiritual gurus and their followers, even prompted the far right Bajrang Dal to vandalise cinema halls. What’s not known is that religious places played an important role in the film-making.
Director Rajkumar Hirani also gifted a crucifix to a church where one scene was filmed.
The Kala Ram temple trust in Nashik received Rs 25,000 in donation from the producers. Trust official Sudhir Pujari told The Indian Express: “The film crew was in Nashik for several days. They filmed for two days at our temple. They gave a donation of Rs 25,000 to the temple trust and took a receipt.”
“There is a scene where Aamir Khan is rolling on the floor with devotees. It was shot in our temple. As far as I remember, some people stalled the shooting after they noticed that crew members had footwear on. But that issue was resolved after the trust management intervened. The shoot was completed,” he said.
Another scene in the movie shows Aamir Khan walking into a church with a pooja thali, complete with a coconut and incense sticks. He wants to break the coconut near the crucifix. That scene was shot at the All Saints Church in Jaipur.
Speaking over phone from Jaipur, Reverend J C Joseph said: “As per the script, pk breaks the coconut in front of the crucifix. When we got to know, we told them categorically that we won’t allow any such scene to be filmed in the church. So they changed it: pk is stopped by two persons who then take him out of the church and counsel him, telling him ‘Tumhare paapon ke liye Jesus suli par latak gaye’.”
Reverend Joseph, who is yet to watch the film because he has been busy with Christmas festivities, said the producers donated Rs 20,000 for “maintenance of the church”.
“We don’t accept donations as such. We took that amount to use it for maintenance work. Also, director Hirani gifted the church a crucifix which he had brought from Mumbai,” he said.
Pramod Tekwade, from the management of Khandoba temple in Jejuri near Pune, said producers had sought footage of the palkhi when turmeric powder (bhandara) is showered on the devotees. In the movie, Aamir Khan is among the hundreds trying to touch the palkhi.
“As a policy, we only give shooting permission to films and TV serials which portray Lord Khandoba in positive light. When producers of this film approached us for footage, we tried to know the subject. But we were only told that it was an Aamir Khan movie. Since they didn’t want to shoot and only needed the footage, we did not insist on details,” Tekwade said.
The two-and-half hour film also has shots of the Jama Masjid of Delhi, Saral Bihari Mandir in Jaipur, the Art of Living Ashram in Bangalore.
Director Hirani and producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra were not available for comments. Calls to their offices were directed to the head of a public relations firm “handling the press” for the film. Emails and phone calls to the PR firm chief got no response.
After UP, pk Tax-free in Bihar too
A day after UP decided to exempt Aamir Khan-starrer pk from entertainment tax, Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi Thursday declared the movie tax-free to ensure it reaches more people and “wrong numbers” are exposed.Manjhi said former CM Nitish Kumar watched the movie and suggested the government to make it tax-free. Nitish said: “There is nothing wrong with the film. It does not attack any religion or faith but attacks hypocrisy and contractors of religions. Our society has a lot of wrong numbers who need to be exposed.”