Mumbai: Film director Umesh Shukla, whose film "OMG - Oh My God!" raised questions on the commercialisation of religion back in 2012, defends "PK", saying any wrong aspects of religion must be condemned. He also says that by doing so, doesn't make filmmakers like him and Rajkumar Hirani "anti-religion".
In an interview, Shukla has spoken about facing protests for "OMG - Oh My God!", which had later won a National Film Award for Best Adapted Screenplay; his views on "PK" and the similarities between his own film and the Aamir Khan-starrer.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. "PK" has been compared with your film "...Oh My God!". Both seem to have got themselves into trouble with right-wing organisations?
A. Why trouble filmmakers who are trying to do something out of the box? We're trying to make good cinema. And it's not as if audiences have objected to "...Oh My God!" or "PK". Why not protest against films that glorify goondaism? We aren't forcing anyone to watch these films. There should be no attempt to stop a film once it is passed by the censor board.
Q. Your film which also attacked organised religion, didn't get attacked so vehemently?
A. They had protested against my film. In Jalandhar, they had burnt posters and vandalised theatres. But not on this level. The protests against "PK" are far more vehement.
Q. When in fact, "PK" puts its points forward far more gently than your film?
A. That's Rajkumar Hirani's style. He makes feelgood films. His style is very different from mine. Raju Hirani, (writer) Abhijat Joshi and Aamir Khan are among my favourite people in cinema. I hate to see them targeted in this way.
Q. There are many points of similarity between "...Oh My God!" and "PK"?
A. Yes, there are similarities between "PK" and my film. It's the genre. You can't change the basic idea. If you make a love story, "I love you" is bound to show up somewhere. Why such a hue cry over the similarities? "...Oh My God!" came first. To remove the similar plot points from "PK" was very difficult. If I was in their place I wouldn't have known what to do. They've done such a fine job of giving a new twist to the theme.
Q. Your Gujarati play "Kanjilal Versus Kanjilal", about organised religion, has been running for years?
A. That's right. And no one has objected. The play and the film "...Oh My God!" aren't anti-religion. They're against wrong religious practices. We are against some aspects of organised religion. Many religious sectors including the Brahma Kumaris and the Radha Saomis appreciated our film "...Oh My God!". They didn't feel threatened by the film. We had screened "...Oh My God!" for Shankaracharya before release. They had no issues with the film.
Q. But many Hindu organisations have protested against "PK"?
A. I wonder why people have so many issues with "PK"! I don't understand it. Why don't the protesters sit and talk with Raju Hirani and the "PK" team. And it isn't as if we're only against commercialisation of Hinduism. In "...Oh My God!" we had asked why place a 'chaadar' on a dargah, why not on a poor homeless person?
Q. Makes sense.
A. Whether the Hindu religion or any other, the wrong aspects must be condemned. I get so many messages accusing me of being anti-religion.