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Joker is very intentionally silly and gets cute at times. It keeps things simple despite the seemingly complicated situation it gets itself into and it is clean. If you don't mind some childish fun, wait for the DVD release. And if you do, you are better off skipping it.
Joker is not your typical Akshay Kumar action-comedy. It starts of being and looking silly, stays so and ends up even sillier. But this is not the regular slapsticky comedy either. It is cute silly. The characters of the obscure village Paglapur have their quirks as you would expect, but they react consistently with their character without getting too repetitive. And the repetition is mostly enjoyable.
A lot of the repetition being tolerable has to do with the perfect length of the film. At a good 15 minutes less than two hours, Joker is just right to make the goofing about acceptable. The complete absence of toilet humor and innuendos feels so fresh in a product like this. But that is what Joker's humor is not. The humor that it does have too, is pretty situational and induces hearty laughs.
Unfortunately, the humor fizzles out as Joker turns its focus towards the story. While trying to literally bring Paglapur on the map, the story that Agastya (Akshay Kumar) and company cook up goes out of control. Which would have been fine for the genre that writer, Shirish Kunder wants to keep the film in. But the fun fizzles out and the characters start focusing on the logistics of when and how.
While, logistics and logic are welcome in any story, in the fantasy world of Paglapur – where the nights are lit with lanterns made out of fireflies – they distract you from the fun. Not that there is any consistency in logic through the film – for example, a village so remote that it has no power supply, but has electricity to light up the village like it's Christmas not to mention has mobile and internet connection. And oh, this dot of a village is not devoid of item numbers - Maharashtrian ones at that, bang in the middle of the Hindi belt.
It is such things that were so easy to take care of and would have added an additional layer of humor. And this inconsistency with sudden focus on the dry story that pulls Joker down. Else, I'd have shocked myself by actually liking this one. As is, I am a little surprised to think of the film as 'not bad'. Especially if you think of it as a film for children that adults can go to, too.
The storyline involving aliens and such is not only in the kid zone, the commentary on Indian politics might also be quick education for kids on what's lined up for them in years to come. Except for the item number, of course. The story in fact, does come across as a bunch of kids sitting around playing, "make a story" where every child in turn contributes one line to a story that is built right there as the game progresses. Joker is fun in that kind of a way. Also, Joker does have a lot of other social commentary and analogies thrown in for us to notice.
Moreover, this is the rare chance for us to watch Akshay Kumar not play himself but stick to his character. While it is much too serious a comparison, his character reminded me Mohan from Swades. There are no histrionics, no slow-mo entries, no glamour, no super-hero attitude. He plays plain and simple Agastya who's conscious suddenly wakes up to do well for his village. The rest of the cast has Shreyas Talpade playing one of the most hilarious characters. And this too is well-served by use in appropriate measure and not overdoing it. The other men bring in their laughs too – from Vrijesh Hirjee to Asrani. The women on the other hand have precious little to do and the film could have pretty much done without their characters.
They together form this fantasy land, Paglapur, which might as well have been Lilliput from Gulliver's Travels. Unfortunately, it doesn't end with the same dose and style of humor as it starts with. And the story is childish while trying to maintain an adult interest in it. A little bit of neither here nor there and yet a welcome change from what we have come to expect from a Akshay Kumar film.
- meetu, a part of the audience
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