Director, Producer & Editor: Raj Kapoor
Screenplay & Story: K. A. Abbas
Stars: Raj Kapoor, Simi Garewal, Manoj Kumar, Rishi Kapoor, Dharmendra, Dara Singh, Kseniya Ryabinkina, Padmini, Rajendra Kumar
Music: Shankar Jaikishan
Cinematography: Radhu Karmakar
Distributor: R. K. Films
Release date:December 18, 1970
The technologies which changes the ways we use a product or services is called disruptive technology. “Mera Naam Joker” was certainly the disruptive film which changed the mindsets of Indian filmmakers as well as the film experience of Indian audience. The most technical screenplay of that era, with a popular Russian actress as one of the lead cast and the never lasting melodious music created a lot of buzz in the film circle.
Mera Naam Joker is a story of Raju (young Raju was played by Rishi Kapoor and older Raju was played by Raj Kapoor). Raju’s father who was a circus clown, died in a trapeze accident during his performance when Raju was young. Raju had a natural affinity to the world of circus and the role of Joker. Raju’s mother was repulsed by the circus world and wanted her son to pursue a good life. Despite of the poor financial conditions, she manages to send Raju to the best school in the town. The film is plotted in 3 parts spanning over the life of Raju from his teenage to his final performance.
In the beginning of the film, teenager Raju is infatuated with his class teacher Mary (Simi Garewal). Here, in a series of events Raju realizes that the aim of his life is to make people laugh, even through his own troubles and pain.
As the story moves, Raju meets his youthful love Marina (Kseniya Ryabinkina), a Russian artist, in Gemini Circus where Raju starts to work as a clown without informing his mother about his job. Raju dreams about getting married to Marina but his heart breaks when the owner of the circus Mahendra Singh (Dharmendra) tells him the truth that they have to separate once the circus will be over.
At the last phase of the film, Raju meets Meena (Padmini), who dresses up as a boy and does street shows with her dog. They become friends and start to perform on the streets together. When Raju finds out that Meena is a girl and aspire to become an actress, he works hard to earn a break for her career.
At the end Meena dumps him in the lust to pursue her career in filmmaking.
The showman showcases that “the show must go on” in one of the most emotional scenes of Hindi cinema when Raju has to go on the stage to perform as a joker and to make the audience laugh immediately after he gets to know that his mother died.
A marvelous screenplay by K. A. Abbas and a flawless direction by Raj Kapoor make a film which is still a benchmark for the filmmakers.
In a most unconventional presentation a doll was used as a symbolic representation of Raju’s heart. In every phase of life Raju gifts the doll to the girl in his life and at the end of that phase the doll comes back to Raju.
Relatively conservative Indian audience of early 70s did not appreciate the boldness in the plot and the scenes. Although the box office collection of the film was unexpectedly low but the film did relatively better in the international market especially in Russia. The film also received a lot of critic attention across the globe.