Would you have watched PK had the film been called Hey Bhagwaan or let’s say Badey Kaanwaala? The fanboy in you would have still headed to the multiplex, but I am willing to bet my last paisa that your level of interest would have been a lot less. Clearly, Rajkumar Hirani knows a thing or two about names. His titles are always character centric but like any income tax return, it hides more than it reveals. Munna Bhai MBBS gives no inkling of jaadu ki jhappi. Lage Raho gives no clue of Gandhigiri and 3 Idiots doesn’t feel at all like a satire on the Indian education system.
That said, the choice of PK was partly fortuitous as Raju Hirani had originally planned to name it Talli or more specifically Ek Tha Talli. The release of Ek Tha Tiger forced a rethink and he chose PK over Talli. Maybe because Talli creates a misimpression that the film is about an alcoholic, while PK can pass off as a nickname or the initials of a person.
Even with character names, no one has come up with quirkier ones than Raju. The lead character of Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone was Ryan Oberoi. Any lesser director adapting the story would have faithfully stuck to Ryan. But Mr Hirani is not your average auteur. He picked Ranchoddas Shamaldas Chanchad instead. The other alias for Aamir in the movie was Phunsukh Wangdu. In another era, Ranchoddas would have been the hero’s dad and Phunsukh possibly a Nepali sidekick. To select un-heroic monikers for heroes requires chutzpah. And Raju saab has plenty of it.
His desire to stay away from the same old Vijay, Rahul and Raj has led the genial director to the doorsteps of the unusual. Anushka plays the role of Jagat Janani urf Jaggu in PK. I can’t recollect a single Hindi movie heroine bestowed with such loopiness.
The minor characters in the Hirani ensemble are always a delight. If Circuit and Short Circuit had the audience in splits in Munnabhai, Centimeter and Millimeter took the cake in 3 Idiots. Thankfully, he’s not repeated the trick in PK. And that only means ‘all izz well’!