Aberrant Decoding refers to the situation in which a message conveyed in a certain meaning gets interpreted in an entirely different meaning. The receiver of the message does not understand the meaning which the sender wants to convey but understands a totally different meaning out of it. The received meaning will therefore differ from the intended one and this theory casts doubt upon the role intentionality and upon the idea that the meaning is contained in the message. It is a concept used in fields like communication, media studies, semiotics, journalism about how messages can be interpreted differently from what was intended by the sender.
Every communication act requires that the messages must be encoded into a set of signs by the sender. These signs must then be transmitted and decoded by the receiver to understand the contained messages.
This right interpretation can be called the preferred decoding or preferred reading. When the interpretation of the message is different from what was intended, this can be called aberrant decoding.
PK is a movie about a life or look-alike of human being but unlike us, with some super power from a different planet, who lands up on the planet called Earth to know about the planet and faces difficulties in returning back to his own homeland. During his stay on the planet Earth, he confronts different kinds of people, living beings, cultures, languages etc. which he could not decode correctly at the beginning. The place from where he belonged, had no clue of what clothes are, languages are and what he should do. He is surprised at everything that he sees and is also exciting for him.
The movie PK implements the concept of Aberrant Decoding to some extent.
The name of the movie itself depicts it. When Aamir Khan goes to the temple to buy the idols of God after knowing that God is the ultimate one can help him, he finds that after one time, according to him, the idol he bought is not working. The first time he held the idol in his hand and asked for food, he was offered a snack from a woman, the second time he asked for his remote control without which he is unable to go home, from the idol, he did not get anything. So takes the idol back to the shopkeeper and asks him if it is battery operated. The shopkeeper gives him a plate consisting of flowers and coconut and him to go inside the temple and give it to the God there. The pandit of the temple accepts his ‘thali’ and asks him to move forward. Aamir Khan starts questioning him about when will he get back his remote control. The pandit fails to answer him properly and tells him to move forward but Aamir Khan keeps on questioning him and the pandit asks him ‘peekay hai kya?’
Then he goes to the police station to file a complaint against God, but the police at first does not understand that he is talking about God, when the police realizes, he asks him ‘peekay hai kya?’ The police checks his wallet (which was not his) and finds that he is a christian and asks him to go to the church since he does not remember his religion as he was drunk.
PK or Aamir Khan goes to the church with a ‘thali’ on his hand and breaks the coconut in front of Jesus. People at the church are shocked and surprised and he is thrown out of the church and one of the man asked him ‘peekay ho kya’?
Therefore, from the above context, it is clear that, there is use of aberrant decoding in this movie.
Here, in this movie the people are asking Aamir Khan whether he is ‘drunk’ or not. But he interprets it in an entirely different context and thinks ‘PK’ to be his name. So whenever, someone asks him ‘peekay hai kya’?, he replies with a ‘yes’. Here, the pandit, the policeman and the man from the church wanted to convey a certain meaning, but PK completely interpreted it in a different notion. The message in the above context, was encoded with a different meaning by the senders but it was decoded by the receiver in his own way as he could understand it. The interpretation of the phrase was different from what it was intended to be conveyed. This is one instance of aberrant decoding from the movie PK.