Saturday, September 01, 2012


Cruel Joke

If Joker were a small indie film made by enthusiastic amateurs, they could have been pardoned on grounds of ignorance. That a script like this even got past the narration stage is a wonder; then Akshay Kumar, UTV and Farah Khan thought it was worth backing.  Okay so Farah Khan is the wife of the writer, director, editor, lyricist, background music composer Shirish Kunder, but what were the others smoking?

Come to think of it, the idea and treatment is similar to Farah Khan’s last disaster Tees Maar Khan. In that film a fake film shoot is organised in a village of idiots to rob a train; in this a fake alien invasion is organised in a village of idiots to get state attention.  Fake and idiots are the key words here.

Agastya (Akshay Kumar--lost) is a scientist in the US, who has been given a huge grant to tinker around with computers—so  that he can make contact with aliens, just because he believes there’s life out there. Well, Steven Spielberg proved it way back in 1977--at least in cinema.  So Shirish Kunder is not just unoriginal, he’s hopelessly out of date.  Nobody makes films about crop circles and UFOs any more, unless they have a big point to make, or at least have a credible conspiracy theory.

This NASA scientist came from a village called Paglapur, which lies in a forgotten heap, since an Englishman neglected to put it on the map in 1947! Then for so many years, nobody bothered to correct the situation, but still, one boy, Agastya, managed to escape that mad village and went right into the arms of NASA. 

Then ‘sick father’ (Darshan Jariwala) calls, Agastya returns to Paglapur with his “friend”  (Sonakshi Sinha--vapid) on his arm, and finds nothing has changed. It is populated by nutcases, including his gibbering brother (Shreyas Talpade), a hanger-on who wears gladiator costume, another who believes he is a king, a teacher (Asrani) who thinks World War ll is still on,  a leftover Englishman, Lord Faulkand and a kid who hangs upside down because he believes he is a lantern!  When Agastya’s attempts to draw attention to his village fail, he gets the cretinous villagers to create a crop circle, and the world’s media descends on Paglapur, followed by slobbering politicians who had refused to help earlier because the place didn’t belong to their state. A sneering white scientist (Alex O’Neil) who tries to expose the fraud is painted a villain. An impoverished village, still manages to get a troupe of lavni dancers for an item number. And considering there seem to be no women of appropriate age around, where did the mad men of Paglapur descend from?

Joker is not funny, it’s too silly to be effective satire, it’s too insincere to be a help-the-poor plea (like Swades), its tackiness ruins the small sci-fi bit, it’s not cute enough to appeal to kids... it is just one big zero. 


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