Halfway into the film, a guy on screen took his sunglasses off to vent: “Sweet Mother of God, what the hell is going on.”

It gave the audience the chills. Did one person from the audience actually cross over and get INTO the film? Like the opposite of The Purple Rose of Cairo coming to life in movie halls around the country?

That’s the 3D technology Shirish Kunder was boasting about then? Very few realise that Joker has thus become the first Bollywood film to allow a member of the audience into the film to vent his emotions!

This guy ended up having the best lines in the film. “Are you kidding me? These guys are aliens?” “Are you idiots? Look, they have vegetables for costumes.” “What are you? A third grader?” And the audience laughed because that’s exactly what they were thinking too! A third dimension that could also read their mind! Whoa!

Now, if only the actual film had at least one good joke. Unless Kunder wants to laugh out loud saying the title contains the word JOKE. Seriously, that’s how funny the quality of jokes is in JOKER.

Yes, the film has everything to do with the Joker from a deck of cards. The characters have as much depth as the card and the script can be written without a single word of text on the back of the card… See that clown face on the card? That’s the film. Not one face but many clown faces trying hard to look funny. One guy squints, another tries to make Hindi-to-English jokes that don’t fly and yet another speaks gibberish because they gave up on writing!

Yes, it really seems to be born out of a joke in Shirish Kunder’s head when he was watching Manoj Night Shyamalan’s Signs. “What if villagers in some mad town in India (let’s call it Paglapur) pull off an elaborate hoax by making crop circles just to get some attention? LOL. Ok, let’s shoot now with the first available cast and crew. Akshay, come back, I will prove to you that Tees Maar Khan was a classic (in comparison). Farah, do choreography. Sonakshi, we haven’t written a role for you. So just stand in the frame and dance during the songs. All the rest of you look funny and act like clowns because the film is called Joker. Production, make them look funny. Let’s make this movie. Roll, Action.” The only upside of this hurried, impatient filmmaking is that the film couldn’t have stretched beyond 100 minutes. Small mercies.

Barring the stray thought of showing the neglected side of India as aliens in their own country and making them use aliens to get attention, there doesn’t seem to have been much thinking on the script. It’s an unfunny improvisation where nothing works. Except maybe production design that pays homage to Ed Wood, who made these terribly bad low budget films on aliens with poor special effects.

As noble as the idea may have been, it required a filmmaker with more sensitivity and finesse. Neglected rural India is not a joke. The villagers are not clowns and certainly don’t deserve to be caricatured like this.

Joker

Genre: Comedy

Director: Shirish Kunder

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Shreyas, Minissha Lamba, Asrani, Darshan Jariwala

Storyline: A village left out of the map of India plans an elaborate hoax to get the world’s attention

Bottomline: Joker makes Tees Maar Khan look like a classic. The joke’s on you if you paid for the ticket.

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Hindi Cinema ReviewsOctober 18, 2011