Okay, okay I know the big question is: Is Joker that bad? Does it go a step ahead (or behind) of Tees Maar Khan as a debacle?
Director: Shirish Kunder
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Darshan Zariwala, Shreyas Talpade, Minissha Lamba, Saurabh Mishra
Well, the answer is no. It is actually an okay film. It has a reasonable, albeit fanciful concept, a simplistic plot and some nice quirky moments. Tees Maar Khan was made for three year-olds, Joker is made for eight year-olds.
Though there are some who emerged from the theatre with their heads reeling, and it would be a great exaggeration to call this film fantastic, it is really not as bad as we were expecting.
Ghasghas gali budbud? Golkot? Golkot? (Have I lost my mind?) Nisibuddi. (Not at all.) If you are wondering if the aliens have screwed with my mind to have made me say this, then that answer is also no.
Okay, enough praise. Joker is a story about the poor villagers of the forgotten and disowned Paglapur, lagging behind a developing country, wanting to better their lot. Agastya (Akshay Kumar), alien researcher (it is unclear exactly what his occupation is), has a deadline to prove that the alien-communication machine that he has been working on for the last two years, actually works, when he gets called to his dying father’s bedside in Paglapur. Girlfriend Diva tags along just for fun and gets a culture shock.
Stuck in a time-warp, Paglapur is full of strange people. There is a teacher (Asrani) who looks at some planes flying and panics about Nazi occupation and German attacks in funny English; a character (Vindoo Dara Singh) who dresses up in a Dharmendra mini-skirt a la Dharamveer and Baban (Shreyas Talpade) who talks in the aforementioned inexplicable language. (Why so? Does he have speech disorder? It doesn’t matter; the answer won’t make any difference to the plot.) There is also a King Julien (Madagascar) kind of character (Sanjay Mishra), who believes he is royalty.
On Agastya’s return, the group tries to convince him to reform the village. Well, we all know that Agastya decides to bring out some fake aliens and gets the world’s media to cover it. Paglapur gets its electricity and water. Then a rival colleague (Alex O’Neill called Simon Goeback) exposes the fruit and veggie peel aliens and Paglapur descends into darkness again. Then the real alien lands.
In a warm enthusiastic ghasghas budbud golkot exchange with Baban, he reveals that he and his ilk had been actually getting Agastya’s signals since two years, but were waiting to signal back only because they weren’t too sure that these were ‘good people.’ The alien does a jig and exits, leaving behind an oil well and much prosperity in Paglapur. Agastya’s alien hunting machine works and everyone’s happy.
Sonakshi is barely relevant to the plot, but they didn’t need an actor of Shreyas’ calibre to do his role. The songs are thoroughly unnecessary. There is no doubt that without the I Want Just You item number and with a much much crisper plot, Joker would have been a good children’s film. In its sensibility, this film has the feel of some naïve, pointless but fun fantasy films of the ’90s like Ajooba and Haatimtai. The only problem could be that Joker has arrived two decades too late.