It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
Karan Anshuman (Filmmaker/movie critic),
Karan Anshuman is a film critic for Mumbai Mirror. He's worked on a bunch of movie projects, none of which you've ever seen...yet! He's a history, photography, squash, web 2.0, food, and gaming enthusiast who would trade his soul to travel the world.
JOKER: Jokes Apart
Director: Shirish Kunder; Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha
I’ll give credit to Kunder for attempting to execute a new (strictly relative to the massive Indian audience) idea in a commercial set up. I found his last directorial venture Jaan-e-Mann good fun as well for its experiment in the mainstream. Unfortunately it didn’t work at the BO, and now I wonder about Joker.
Let’s be perfectly clear that Joker is not for you if you’re over 12. This is a kids’ film and must be considered, i.e. reviewed, as one. That it has not been promoted as a children’s movie is confounding because surely the producers did not mean for it to be seen and enjoyed by thinking adults. Once you accept this, at a breezy 105 minutes, some sense can be made of this Joker.
The characters in all big budget Bollywood pre-declared blockbusters are a little nuts, if not completely mental. They cannot be normal people. Either they’re policemen or agents with covert superpowers that even they don’t know of or their sense of humor is honed with the purpose of entertaining in a circus act. The problem is that these films pretend to be set in reality, making them look plain stupid sometimes. Even in blockbuster club, the most memorable films are about ordinary characters in extraordinary circumstances.
In a stroke of genius (and aren’t all geniuses a little loony?), director Sirish Kunder sets Joker in a town called Paglapur, home to a coterie of mad men who were once shackled to an asylum. This world he creates justifies the tomfoolery that follows and makes it, in an obtuse way, quite acceptable.
In comes Agastya/Sattu (Akshay Kumar) straight from NASA with his girlfriend (Sonakshi Sinha) to attend to his ailing father. He’d been working on a way to communicate with ETs, and now he’s found a new mission: to put Paglapur on the map. Literally, because it’s been shunned by the states that intersect at it. His idea: fake a crop circle created by aliens. This, right here, is a fresh idea for the generic Indian audience.
Of course, from this point on, proceedings get a little too fantastical and unconvincing even in this distorted reality. This is despite an important, balancing character (the villain!) who is all about reason. Interestingly, you still root (remember you’re no older than 12) for the deranged villagers. What I didn’t care about is the implied lesson that kids are going to take home: lost your identity? Gain it back by eating McDonald’s, drinking Coke, and understanding the value of oil. What is this? Wall Street?
Despite the cardboard tanks that resemble R-Day floats, production design is thought through and in sync with the world Kunder has imagined; visual effects are surprisingly decent: not overambitious to the point of falling apart. The songs serve as massive speed breakers; but the story is so thin, we’d have only an hour-long film if the situations were taken out.
Akshay Kumar, Shreyas Talpade, and the ensemble: all par for the course. Sonakshi Sinha, I have a question for you: when are you going to choose a role that actually has some scope for a performance, some acting?
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