Ek Joker ne jab apnehi Jaahaan ko barbad hote hue deka
(Mera Naam Joker ke pachas sall pure huve hain)
There was a strong “Joker” fever all over the country and it was turning out to be a threat to the “Johnny” fever which was already raging. Raj Kapoor had established himself as a show man after the grand success of “Sangam”and was inspired to make his magnum opus which would be inspired by his own life and had asked his favorite A Abbas to write the script as he believed that only Abbas could understand him and his sensibilities.
The show had assembled a massive star cast with himself playing the “Joker” and Simi Garewal,
Nadia Comaneci a Russian Gymnast, Padmini who played his leading lady in Jis desh mein Ganga behti hain,a little boy called Rishi Kapoor and Manoj Kumar , Rajender Kumar , Dharmendra and Dara Singh making guest appearances .Raj was so full of his desire to make a masterpiece that he had his own team of Shanker-Jai kishan,Shailendra and Asrat Jai Puri and Cinematographer Radhu Kamarkar.He had almost taken over the touring Gemini Circus to shoot the Circus Scenes .It was the first film Raj Kapoor had taken six years to make and was to be released in six parts,the excitement kept mounting as the dates of the release drew closer.
‘Mera Naam Joker’ was finally released with all the fanfare associated with the Showman.it was released in a record number of theatres all over India.The opening show was a sell-out ,but by the time the first show was over, the people rejected the film outright.It was perhaps the first film in India which was rejected by critics, experts and trade pundits and the large number of admirers of Raj Kapoor himself.
There were desperate attempts made to save the film. It was cut by half it’s length , but was still too long and the audiences just refused to enter cinema halls showing the film .And on the other hand Dev Anand’s Johny Mera Naam which was released a month earlier was roaring way to success.
Raj Kapoor finally surrendered and accepted the bitter reality that he had made a flop.He was a man in ruins he had to mortgage his studio. The only ones who benefitted from the film were the child artist Rishi Kapoor and the Shanker- Jaikishen and Shailendra – Harshad Jaipuri team . Raj Kapoor was not the same man again…
Till his favorite writer Abbas made a compromise with himself to save his best friend and wrote the script of Bobby and Raj Kapoor was back on his throne again.
But today Mera Naam Joker is considered a classic and for Raj Kapoor Mera Naam Joker was his “favorite child”.
Will we have a another Raj Kapoor, who will have the guts to make another Mera Naam Joker fall, fail and yet rise again?