UTV Motion Pictures, Hari Om Entertainment Company and Three’s Company Productions Pvt. Ltd.’s Joker is a fictional tale about an imaginary Indian village, Paglapur, which is on the border of three states, Prajasthan, Uttam Pradesh and Mukhya Pradesh, yet not part of any of them. Because of this, it has remained under-developed and has been taken over by inmates of a mental asylum in the village. Paglapur does not even have electricity!
Agastya alias Sattu (Akshay Kumar) hails from Paglapur but now works as a researcher in America. He has been given a grant to establish contacts with aliens and is working hard on the project without much success. After his deadline, he is granted a month’s grace period to succeed in his mission, failing which he would be replaced by a more worthy candidate. Simon (Alexx O’Neil) is Agastya’s arch rival and is waiting to replace him. Agastya lives with his girlfriend, Diva (Sonakshi Sinha).
One day, Agastya gets to know that his father (Darshan Jariwala) is serious and nearing his end in Paglapur. He sets off for his village, accompanied by Diva. Once there, he realises that his father is fine and had called him over so that he could do something to improve the lot of the villagers. Agastya is thrilled to meet his brother, Babban (Shreyas Talpade), friend Sundi (Vindu Dara Singh), Rajaji (Sanjay Mishra), Guruji (Asrani) and others. He first meets the ministers of the three states of Uttam Pradesh (Avtar Gill), Mukhya Pradesh (Swatantra Bharat) and Prajasthan (Anjan Shrivastava) to ask them to do something for Paglapur and its people. But each of the ministers turns down his request and their PAs (Kanchan Pagare, Premchand and Bikramjeet Kanwarpal) do little to help Agastya.
Driven to his wits’ end, Agastya, with the help of the villagers, has crop circles made in the village to give the impression that aliens have invaded Paglapur and made the crop circles. The aim is to get Paglapur in the ambit of the media and, through it, to the notice of the government. Sure enough, the national and international media swarm Paglapur and buy the story that an obscure village has been invaded by aliens. Even as television reporters are waiting to capture the alien/s on their cameras, Simon reaches Paglapur and calls Agastya’s bluff.
Not to be outdone, Agastya now dresses up Kachhua (Pitobash Tripathi), Babban and others as aliens to mislead the media. He and the villagers kidnap Simon when he tries to expose their game. They set Simon free when Agastya feels that the media is convinced about the presence of aliens in Paglapur. The ministers of the three states are now willing to adopt Paglapur and do anything for it. However, Simon once again calls Agastya’s bluff and it appears, the game is over. Most of the media persons and the army and commandos, which had also been deployed, have started to leave Paglapur.
A dejected and crestfallen Babban who, incidentally, speaks in an alien language and can’t speak in the language used by human beings, prays to God to save Agastya and Paglapur. Agastya is being arrested by the police for cheating everybody. Just then, Babban establishes contact with an alien through Agastya’s computer. The alien actually lands in Paglapur in a spaceship and speaks to Babban. The alien convinces the people of Paglapur that it has been keeping an eye on Paglapur.
What happens thereafter? Do the villagers of Paglapur benefit in any way? Does the lot of Paglapur improve in any way? What about Agastya’s mission to establish communication with aliens? Does the Paglapur episode work as his project?
Shirish Kunder’s story is juvenile and silly, to say the least. It is no better than a fairy tale read by kids. It takes the audience so much for granted and assumes them to be such imbeciles that it is not funny. The screenplay, penned by Shirish Kunder, Vikram Gupta and Ashmith Kunder, is ridiculous, irritating and as unbelievable as the story. Every single incident in the drama is so unbelievable and looks so fake that the film turns out to be a literal assault on common sense. The move of Agastya to resort to blatant lies to get Paglapur noticed does not win him any sympathy from the viewers. In fact, the audience actually begins to wonder what kind of a hero he is. Besides, the contact with the actual aliens is established by chance, that too by Babban, further undermining the importance of Agastya who is supposed to be the hero of the drama. In that sense, Agastya’s heroism is restricted to speaking lies and doing fake things and making an ass of the media and the commandos.
The media persons are shown to be so retarded that their behaviour is often no different from the behaviour of the uneducated inhabitants of Paglapur. In his interactions with the ministers of the three states after the media spotlight on Paglapur has started, Agastya is shown to be so pompous that he almost underlines the fact that there’s something fishy going on. Even otherwise, the people of Paglapur are so loud in their reactions, it is a wonder that only Simon is convinced of the fakeness of it all. Frankly, even a dumb ass could guess that the entire story about the aliens is cooked up. The aliens dancing in the jungle with TV cameras shooting them and commandos training their guns on them looks idiotic, to say the least. Agastya, his father, Guruji and other villagers prompting the ‘aliens’ from behind the trees, about their next steps, is so childish that the viewer would be led to believe that the media persons were blind, their cameras had no lenses and the army men and their guns were toys!
Towards the end, Agastya is shown to suddenly comprehend all that Babban speaks in the alien language and, therefore, all that the alien is trying to convey, in a jiffy. How does that happen? There is no explanation for that – just as there are no answers to the tens of questions that crop up in the viewer’s mind. In fact, the screenplay is so full of gaping holes that the audience is forced to question it at every point but the writers have taken the audience so much for granted that they don’t even attempt to address the questions, leave alone answering them. Climax is supremely dull and as ridiculous as the rest of the film.
Paglapur is shown to not have electricity but the media people are shown chatting on their mobile phones while they are there! This implies that Paglapur has no electricity but it has a mobile phone tower.
Coming to the basic ingredients in a commercial Hindi film, Joker lacks most of them too. The comedy is so weak that it is almost as if it is non-existent in the drama. Emotions simply fail to touch the heart. Romance is conspicuous by its absence. Drama is irritating. There are even continuity jerks. For instance, Agastya’s father is squint-eyed in almost every scene but there is a scene in which he does not appear squint at all!
All in all, the audience gets a feeling that it is watching a circus rather than a film – and not just because it is titled Joker!
Akshay Kumar does a fair job. Frankly, he doesn’t get much scope and it is a wonder that he chose to be associated with this film as actor and producer. Sonakshi Sinha, probably realising that her scenes lack substance, resorts to often making faces to pass that off as acting. Shreyas Talpade is earnest but the gibberish he indulges in stops being funny after a while. Minissha Lamba has hardly anything to do in a special appearance. Vindu Dara Singh, Asrani, Darshan Jariwala, Sanjay Mishra, Azaan Shah (as Goti) and Pitobash Tripathi try hard to impress but barely succeed – and the script is to be blamed for this. Vrajesh Hirjee is good. Anjan Shrivastava leaves a mark. Avtar Gill and Swatantra Bharat are fair. Kanchan Pagare, Premchand and Bikramjeet Kanwarpal are alright as the PAs of the ministers. Alexx O’Neil has his moments. Govardhan Randell barely passes muster as Lord Falkland. Gurpreet Guggi and Aarya Babbar have no worthwhile roles to talk about. Chitrangda Singh looks sexy in the ‘Kafirana’ song. Farah Khan is seen in a tiny scene in a cameo appearance. Greg Heggernan (as CEO) and Carina (as the White House spokesperson) are okay. Others lend ordinary support.
Shirish Kunder’s direction is no better than his script because his narration fails to involve the audience. He has been unable to make the drama believable and his comedy also falls flat on its face. Music (Gaurav Dagaonkar and G.V. Prakash Kumar) is good. The ‘Kafirana’ and ‘Sing raja’ songs are well-tuned. A couple of other songs are also quite alright. Lyrics (Shirish Kunder) are okay. Song picturisations (by Farah Khan) could’ve been much better. Background music (Shirish Kunder) adds little to the proceedings.
Parvez-Feroz’s action and stunts are functional. Sudeep Chatterjee and Anay Goswami’s camerawork is nice. Sets (Samir Chanda and Shashank Tere) are appropriate. Editing (Shirish Kunder) leaves something to be desired.
On the whole, Joker is a disaster what with almost nil entertainment value in it. It will go down in box-office history as a colossal waste of time, money and efforts.
Released on 31-8-’12 at Eros (daily 4 shows), Maratha Mandir (daily 2 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay by UTV Motion Pictures. Publicity: fair, quantitatively speaking, but very poor, qualitatively speaking. Opening: weak. …….Also released all over. Opening was poor in many multiplexes across the country and good in single-screen cinemas of U.P. and Bihar.