August 31, 2012 Y. Sunita Chowdary
Joker is a neatly edited and a short movie of one hour forty five minutes. After 15 or twenty minutes into the film you feel like walking away seeing the gloomy setting, mad characters, hero and heroine talking of alien creatures, it really gives us a feeling that this film is meant for aliens or for the kindergarten section. Show some patience and then you are drawn into the story that reads like a book.
The prelude shows Pagalpur is a mental hospital in 1946 that got destroyed in flames and slowly got erased from the map of India. Years passed the 600 people still survive, cut away from the world, still live like aliens. With no water, or electricity they use fire flies captured in containers in the darkness. Some even wear the costumes worn during the British period, and fear an attack everytime a plane hovers around in the sky.
To bring them out of impoverishment, a father feigns illness and summons his son from USA; Agastya (Akshay Kumar) is the son working in NASA making a machine that will have contact with the alien world. Unsuccessful, he's given a warning to complete his experiment within a month but he has to rush to Pagalpur with his girlfriend to see his dying father.
Now after landing in the remote village and even after establishing relationships and on the verge of severing them, the story doesn't interest you. Infact you turn crazy with the proceedings. Only when the politicians refuse to acknowledge the existence of the village Pagalpur and Agastya decides to do something for to get the attention of the world that you begin to enjoy the story.
Agastya uses his brain to create a crop circle and get the attention of the media and the country and the rest of the world. Shirish Kunder's characters resembles the one in Lagaan and the story setting of Aamir Khan's Peepli Live, especially the media hanging on there to get exclusive bytes. Once the crop circle is created the film gets predictable, Akshay Kumar's role hereafter fades and the focus moves to the story alone.
The conflicting point is when the crop circle is revealed to be a hoax and there is an urgency in Agastya to retain the interest of the media. The film loses steam and picks up again. The director did an intelligent thing by winding up the story soon. The repetition of the aliens scaring the media is boring, also Sonakshi Sinha has nothing to do here except holding Akshay's arm. She should watch her weight.
The only highlight of the film is Shreyas's work when he gets desperate and rushes into the temple to pray to a machine. In a language of an alien, he has done a commendable job. What works against the film is it is too simple and gives a déjà vu feeling and you are able to guess what comes next. Not a single villager dies when the fire is opened, we do not know what happens to the warning and the billions of dollars spent on Agastya after he returns to Pagalpur.
It is a superficial narration, the performances are good but the story doesn't get believable. The item number is a filler, doesn't help and few dialogues just about bring out a smile. Music is okay and cinematography is good. Joker is just an okay movie, nothing great.