Joker (2012) *MQ*

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In 1947, when the maps of India and Pakistan were being drawn, an oversight ensured that the village of Paglapur didn’t find a place in either country.The village had the distinction of housing the largest mental asylum in the region and in the melee that ensued during partition, the asylum inmates broke loose, drove away the villagers and established their own republic in Paglapur. And that’s how it stayed for the next 60 years! While the world outside changed, Paglapur remained isolated, with no electricity, water, television or sanity!

Now, decades after the world forgot this village, a NASA scientist of Indian origin, Agastya [Akshay Kumar] and his friend [Sonakshi Sinha], find themselves on the road to Paglapur. Agastya is working on a project for creating a device to communicate with aliens. So why is he in a village whose colorful inhabitants include a man who speaks in gibberish, another who thinks he is a lamp post and everyone else who think that the World War II is still going on? And more importantly, what are they going to do that will soon turn the universe’s spotlight on this forgotten village?

Although the title may give an impression that it’s all about a funny guy trying to make people laugh, the fact is that this one’s about guys pretending to be aliens and how, eventually, they face an actual alien in the end. On the brighter side, the setting and structures look magical and to build an entire story around a desolate village must have been enchanting. But interesting concepts don’t necessarily translate into interesting films. JOKER runs out of gas as soon as director Shirish Kunder establishes the plot, because neither does the comic quotient work, nor do the aliens [fake and actual] salvage the show. In fact, the film makes a mockery of everything you may have seen or heard of UFOs and aliens.

While bits and pieces of the first half is tolerable, the film goes completely awry in its post-interval portions. Seriously, what was Kunder thinking while penning and executing this one? Imagine an alien dancing to Indian songs and also doing pelvic thrusts!!! Yes, you read that right!

JAAN-E-MANN, Kunder’s directorial debut, had style and substance both, but Kunder’s intention of making an entertainer that hits the right notes fails this time. Choosing an unconventional story is great, but coming up with a gripping 2-hour film is nothing short of a challenge and that’s where this film boomerangs [thankfully, the run time of the film is less than 2 hours!]. In fact, it gets cumbersome to sit through the film after a point, since what unfurls is ridiculous and bizarre.

The soundtrack of JOKER is neither catchy nor melodious. ‘Kafirana’, filmed on Chitrangda Singh at the very start, is the pick of the lot, while the remaining songs are of fast-forward variety. A listless score! The cinematography is of standard, while the effects are patchy.

Akshay is monotonous and repetitive. Sonakshi gets no scope at all. Also, the spark is missing. Shreyas Talpade is reduced to being Akshay’s glorified sidekick. Minissha Lamba is hardly there. Arya Babbar, Vindu Dara Singh, Asrani, Sanjay Mishra, Vrajesh Hirjee, Pitobash, Gurpreet Guggi, Darshan Jariwala, Anjan Srivastava, Avtar Gill and Bikramjeet Kanwarpal are gap fillers. Alexx O’Nell is strictly okay.

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