I didn’t get the name wrong. Did I? His name’s Raju. A common man who’s known to enjoy trials and tribulations of life , whatever it bestows him with. A man with a big heart who encounters a world that betrays him every instant. Fate torments him and luck irks him. But he’s still a heart of gold. He’s here to entertain the crowds. He’s here to laugh at his own miseries. Here’s Joker Raju presenting his very last show. But is it? Its an unending game of wit,humour a show called life. It’s a poignant journey that dismays him deeply and made him the person what he’s today.
Dissecting his life into 3 chapters of childhood,teenage fantasies and disillusionment of middle age, here’s a drama that helps us peep into an account of his life. Studying at a high class convent despite hailing from a poor economic background at the expense of his mother’s income, he advances his baby steps into the real world. He encounters a teacher who understands and warms his heart that wanders for true love. He develops an attraction, an infatuation for her at a very delicate age which could turn things completely against his favour. He gets over it, only to learn a lesson that he would recall throughout his existence.
Stage 1: Main Zaroor Joker Banoonga…
A doll of a joker that his father(who was a joker) leaves behind before his death impacts Raju’s mindset on this profession completely. He fancies his imagination in leading an existence that’s born to diminish worries and entertain people. “Jeena Yahaan, Marna Yahaan” as he ambles on his father’s untimely death on the very same stage where he used to enthrall crowds with his gimmicks, this very aspect and his dedication to the craft inspiring him to take up this priceless profession. Despite his mother’s insistence on drooling away from the “ruckus” as she calls it, destiny lands him to a place which he favoured being. As they say, rest is history. His innocence, witty humour make the crowds drool over him. The Gemini Circus is his second home where he delights his co-performers and a Russian crew is invited to perform for a season. His simplicity woo’s them too, especially Marina who’s bowled by his regard to human feelings coupled with a wonderful sense of humour. Raju reciprocates the same reaction too. Though language barriers separate them, they unite to understand the language of love. Just when situations seem to be meandering to the right destination, destiny shows him the back door. The relationship doesn’t translate according to his expectations and he resigns his fate from desires with this heartbreak. The troubles don’t seem end up with this. His mom, whom he regarded as a pillar of strength , departs from worldly existence to leave Raju in tantrums and so does Marina.
Stage 2: A failed love life and an emptiness exuberates in the soul.
Then comes Meenu Master, the lady who clouds herself in a manly avatar to earn her living through public stunts and antics with her beloved pet. Living in a little hut away from the bustles of the city, she leads a compromising existence until Raju steps in her life. The guileless chap initially falls into an impression of Meenu being a man but later is desolated to know the real truth which was kept under wraps. Raju changes her world completely. He gives her respect and makes her feel special on being a woman. Meena dances,charms through stages,theatres with the assistance of Raju. From Qawwali to Bharatanatyam, a folk number to a raunchy film number, she could sweep anyone on her feet on a given day. But the real problem starts here, when Meena starts believing in necessities rather than sensibilities. Besides, she makes it big in the glamour world and a leading Hindi actor named Kumar falls prey to her glitz and persona and offers her a film chance. Raju being a mere witness to these dramatic events recognises the negativity popping up in her. Kumar becomes increasingly possessive of Meena’s needs and offers Raju an empty cheque for staying out of her life. Raju declines the lumpsum amount and abdicates himself from the presence of Meena with latter neither having a remorse nor pain for Raju’s cause.
Stage 3: Life is all about necessities and a continuous betrayal of trust. The world uses everyone.
As he gets nostalgic about his past, Raju witnesses how these three phases of his life had various messages to tell through various messengers. Inviting each and every person to his last show,he reminds them how significantly they have registered a stark impact in his mind.
The film celebrates eastman colour cinema depicting some of the most excruciating emotions ever seen on the celluloid. Be it the scene where Raju continues the show despite the knowledge of his mother’s death or the climatic scene where he sits isolated, sad at the turn of events unfolding before him. One can even appreciate the scene where Marina and Raju despite the inadequacy of language communicate through expressions. Though the film throws light in terms of a Joker, the situations that he experience are very much relatable to a common man which we have seen from the days of “Awara” ,”Anari” and “Shree 420”. Shankar Jai Kishan being the hot favourite of R.K Films don’t disappoint either with the nostalgic “Jaane Kahaan Gaye Woh Din”, “Aye Bhai Zara” buzzing with energy from Manna Dey and the melodies like “More Ang Lag Ja Balma” where Asha Bhosle revels in her versatility. This film also marks the debut of Rishi Kapoor into the Hindi film industry. Needless to say, Papa Kapoor has extracted a dignified, matured and a commendable act from his son. Besides the voluminous list of the cast would only escalate one’s expectations with the likes of Dharmendra, Manoj Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Padmini , Simi Garewal and a few supporting characters too and satisfyingly they deliver a knock out performance.
Raj Kapoor through “Mera Naam Joker” glorifies his cinematic obsession with gentle,yet a subtle portrayal of Raju. With a terrific script enabled with wonderful dialogues from K.A.Abbas , Raj Kapoor did everything to make this film a cherishable and a worthwhile experience. Probably he went to great heights in his obsession that the budget clearly took a backseat which resulted in the film being a colossal disaster at the box office. Nevertheless, this 224 minute journey is a must for a film buff who wishes for quality and visual splendour in cinema. This film reaffirms our faith in the effectiveness of the visual medium.(There’s lot much to write, but it’ll be done through my next article)
My Take :4.5/5