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Mera Naam Joker
(My Name is Joker)

Screening on Film
Directed by Raj Kapoor .
With Raj Kapoor, Manoj Kumar, Rishi Kapoor .
India, 1970, 35mm, color, 184 min.
Hindi with English subtitles .

A pivotal film in Raj Kapoor’s career, Mera Naam Joker has also proved to be a divisive one, earning admirers and detractors in seemingly equal numbers. Originally conceived as three separate films, the sprawling Meera Nam Joker is a triptych following the life of a circus performer from adolescence to early adulthood to middle age, with each section focused on a different love of the performer’s life. The film itself can be seen as a reworking of Chaplin’s Limelight: both are passionately emotional films about clowns whose hearts break as they suffer to make audiences laugh. It also resembles such autobiographical cris de coeur as Fellini’s 8-1/2 and Chahine’s An Egyptian Story, all portraits of filmmakers in crisis. Kapoor worked on the film for six years and was said to be devastated by its failure at the box office. The five-hour film was cut to four hours for initial release and subsequently trimmed to three hours after its failure at the box office.

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