Movie Review: Joker


Movie Review:  Joker

Cast:Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Asrani, Shreyas Talpade, Chitrangada Singh
Director: Shirish Kunder

It is easy to see why lead actor Akshay Kumar has reportedly disowned this film despite the fact that his own production banner, Hari Om Entertainment, has lent its name to it.

Joker is a crude joke of a film that will leave you in tears unless you have a stomach strong enough to digest such unmitigated junk.

Occasionally, trash does have its uses in the domain of entertainment. But when it decomposes and turns into putrid garbage, it stinks. Yes, Joker is a load of rubbish that belongs in the dump yard.

The single star that the film gets is for the fact that Joker is probably the first mainstream comic fantasy made in Mumbai. That apart, it has nothing that remotely resembles a redeeming routine. Pity, even Chitrangada Singh's Kaafirana dil can make no dent.

What Joker delivers in the garbled guise of the genre plumbs such depths of vapidity that it stands no chance of ever coming up for air.

The run time of the film is an hour and forty-five minutes. Thank God for small mercies. But even at that length, Joker is difficult to deal with.

The screenplay is all over the place, clearly the handiwork of a person unable to decide whether it is a film about a forgotten village of nitwits who revel in making a sorry spectacle of themselves or a cross-eyed comment on the propensities of the nation’s over-eager electronic media and smarmy political functionaries. Either way it is pathetically half-baked.

Joker is set in a village called Paglapur, which isn’t even a speck on the map because it is populated by a bunch of freaks that owe their bloodline to mental asylum inmates who escaped from the captivity of somebody called Dr D. Mented over 60 years ago.

Into their midst walks a prodigal son, Agastya (Akshay Kumar), a US-based scientist who is working on a large corporation-funded project to build a radio trans-receiver that will enable humans to communicate with aliens. His constant arm candy Diva (Sonakshi Sinha) accompanies him to this lost frontier.

The guy realises that the village of his childhood is no Shangri-la. It is stuck in the past because the authorities no longer acknowledge its existence on paper or otherwise.

He decides to pull a fast one to attract media attention. He hatches a plot to force the world to take notice of Paglapur and it involves much mumbo-jumbo about crop circles and aliens.

An American scientist and Agastya’s rival for the lucrative get-to-know-the-aliens contract who arrives in the village to call the hero’s bluff tells one of the swarming television reporters: “What are you, a third grader?”

You could well divert that very question director Shirish Kunder’s way. Really, what was he thinking when he decided to foist this piece of insufferable drivel on us?

The gallery of characters that he conjures up is as off-kilter as everything else in the film. There’s Babban (Shreyas Talpade), the male protagonist’s brother who speaks a gobbledygook lingo that is infinitely weirder than the crazy dance performed by the aliens for the consumption of the electronic media corps that has descended on Paglapur to record the bizarre goings-on.

There is also a madcap schoolteacher (Asrani) who still believes that the village faces a threat from Adolf Hitler. He is another of those obsessive Hindi-to-English translators that many makers of Hindi films think are riotously funny.

"Don’t fly my jokes," the masterji says on one occasion. What he means is mera mazaaq mat udaao (don’t make fun of me).

If that weren’t enough, he translates ulti chhatri (upside down umbrella – a reference to the dish antennas on the OB vans that invade Paglapur following the reports of a crop circle – as "vomit umbrella."

If you aren’t ready to throw up by then, you really do possess a level of tolerance that can only be described as impressive. But it might do you much harm in the long run, so stay away from this misguided joker in the pack.

It is about as exhilarating as a runaway pachyderm that has strayed into a city park packed early morning joggers. You don’t stand by and watch; you run for cover!

The Joker actors look like they’ve walked into a crude indigenized version of a vaudeville performance in the middle of nowhere without quite knowing what they have let themselves into.

Akshay Kumar is as good as he can be – and that isn’t all that good. Sonakshi sleepwalks through the film, grinning and frowning as he drowns in the morass,

Give Joker a miss if you value your sanity and money. It gives commercial Hindi cinema a bad name.
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