Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Joker: The joke is on you
Akshay Kumar, wearing an outrageous hat, is dancing with a long-haired, ash-smeared, nearly naked holy man perched on his shoulders. At times, Kumar pats the man’s stomach even as the “baba” waves a “We Love Aliens” placard. No one will blame you if you ask — What exactly is going on here?
But hold your breath, for such moments will be too many to count and by the time you see an alien dancing to an item number, your brain will be numb and nothing in life will make sense except the neon EXIT sign that will seem like the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Joker” has Akshay Kumar playing Agastya, a scientist working for NASA who returns to his native village when he learns that his father is unwell. We are told Paglapur is missing from the map of India because the British officer who was supposed to survey it ran away on learning that escaped mental patients had taken over the village (yes, really).
Since then, Paglapur has been untraceable and has no electricity, no water or basic healthcare, but wait a minute, it does have a super-fast internet connection that allows the characters to watch live news, without buffering, on a shiny new Macbook Pro. In such situations, you have to look at the brighter side of life.
So Agastya, in order to put his town on the map, wants to create a crop circle, which will ensure media attention on the village and bring in progress. Director Shirish Kunder’s definition of progress, by the way, is a McDonalds outlet and a computer showroom.
When an old rival usurps that plan by proving that crop circles are man-made, he comes up with another — pretend that aliens have invaded the village and make the villagers fashion alien costumes out of vegetables. If only they had worked at actually trying to make a living, perhaps they wouldn’t be living in such penury, but of course such details don’t bother Kunder.
There is the FBI, the White House, an entire battalion of army tanks and soldiers, and even an actual UFO in the rigmarole and none of it is remotely coherent.
It would be a shame to even talk about technical aspects in the film except to say that I am thankful this movie wasn’t released in 3D as was originally announced. The special effects are slightly better than those on display at a school fancy dress parade. Akshay Kumar sleepwalks through the role and Sonakshi Sinha seems placed just to ask obvious questions and look demure.
If you choose to watch this movie for whatever reason, be warned dear viewer, the joke is on you.