9MERA NAAM JOKER (1970)
The original showman of Bollywood, Raj Kapoor, had never before faced such monumental failure in his career. Before ‘Mera Naam Joker’ happened, he had produced, directed and starred in a number of memorable films, so when he announced his next project right after the super success of ‘Sangam’ (1964), industry and cinema lovers’ anticipation knew no bounds. Even Kapoor was confident of his colossal project which took almost 6 years to get ready for release. However, when his most ambitious venture finally released in cinemas on 18th December, 1970, it turned out to be the biggest disaster of all time. The unexpected failure of the film put Raj into a financial crisis as it cost him his personal fortune to complete it.
The story of the film revolves around Raju, considered the best circus clown ever, who has to entertain and regale his audience no matter what, hiding his own sorrows and pain. The movie, which also marked the acting debut of Rishi Kapoor as a child artist, takes the audience on an emotional journey and remains melancholic from start to finish. Since the film tells the story of a gloomy joker, the songs of the film, too, emanated the same sentiments. Numbers like Jeena Yahaan, Marna Yahaan and Jaane Kahaan Gaye Woh Din were full of gloom and despair.
The biggest problem with the film was its length. At 4 hours 15 minutes, ‘Mera Naam Joker’ is one of the longest films ever made in India and the second movie which had two intermissions. The audience could not sit through the whole film and, resultantly, it went on to score very low at the ticket window. But now when people watch the film on television, they can’t stop gushing over the beauty of the film. ‘Mera Naam Joker’ is one such cult film which can never be made again.