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Updated: August 25, 2012 18:48 IST

Showcase: Alien alert

SHASHI BALIGA
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Will these aliens work? Photo: Special Arrangement
Will these aliens work? Photo: Special Arrangement

After the promo and trailer of Shirish Kunder's Joker, you can’t say you weren’t warned.

It was a little scary to begin with, the prospect of a Bollywood film about aliens and crop circles. Came the poster and that uneasy feeling got stronger. Then came the trailer and the feeling refuses to go away.

Because good — really good — special effects of the alien kind are not Bollywood’s strong point. For one big reason: they simply cost too much for a Bollywood budget.

The last alien who was successfully airdropped into Hindi films was Jadoo in Rakesh Roshan’s Koi Mil Gaya. Jadoo was a thoroughly Indianised alien, with a blue tinge that was presumably meant to remind viewers of a baby Krishna. Bizarre as that may sound, it worked at the box-office. The film had no other aliens and few other special effects and was, of course, made at a fraction of what a similar Hollywood film might have cost.

Joker has quite a few aliens and they look, it must be said, like they were made on a budget. One looks like a cross between Steven Spielberg’s ET and a pumpkin, another has legs like Davy Jones’ wriggly ‘beard’ in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Not very promising.

But as Jadoo and Koi Mil Gaya showed us, you never know. So, here goes. Joker’s aliens show up in the village of Paglapur (so named because it houses a mental asylum) where a scientist (Akshay Kumar) has holed up, working on a project to communicate with aliens. Aiding him in his noble mission is his wife (Sonakshi Sinha) and other assorted human members of the cast.

Since this is a Bollywood film, there will be singing and dancing (whether the aliens join in is as yet unascertained). There is also an item number performed by the sultry Chitrangada Singh, which has already gained some notoriety because of a line that went “I want fakht you” (fakht being the Marathi word for ‘only’). The line has since been changed, but the damage or publicity — depending on how you see it — was done.

The film is “written-edited-directed” by Shirish Kunder, whose last outing, Jaan-E-Mann, (2006) left both viewers and critics equally bewildered. Perhaps Kunder took one of the lines from Joker’s promos seriously: “When being human doesn’t work, try being alien!”

As the film’s trailer also points out, “There are places on planet Earth where common sense doesn’t apply.” (sic). You can’t say you haven’t been warned.

Bottomline: Perhaps Kunder took one of the lines from Joker’s promos seriously: “When being human doesn’t work, try being alien!”

Joker

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Shreyas Talpade, Minissha Lamba, Asrani

Director: Shirish Kunder

Releases: August 31

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