New Delhi: American psychological thriller Joker is all set to cash in on India’s big festive weekend with the Gandhi Jayanti holiday falling on this Wednesday. The Todd Phillips directed film is intended to launch a standalone series on the character, a supervillain created by DC Comics who is essentially a criminal mastermind and a psychopath with a sadistic sense of humour.
“The response to the film is extraordinary and it has opened to full houses even though there is big competition," said Rajendar Singh, vice-president, programming and distribution, INOX Leisure Ltd. Singh was referring to the clash that Joker faces with Yash Raj Films’ action drama War starring Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff and multi-lingual period drama Syeraa Narasimha Reddy featuring Chiranjeevi. He added that most trade experts and exhibitors were not expecting such a huge response to the Joaquin Phoenix-starrer but now India is on par with global audiences when it comes to the awareness around Hollywood franchises and iconic characters, as the success of films like Avengers shows.
Having appeared in a bunch of media, including television series, animated and live-action films, the Joker character is most recently remembered for Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. The latter had won actor Heath Ledger a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Joker.
To be sure, the movie co-produced by DC Films has been the subject of a furious debate online, even before release. Some critics are concerned that in the United States’ current climate, giving the spotlight to the character of an unstable, mass murderer emboldens and galvanizes a type of thinking that can inspire mass shooters, besides hinting that societal abuse and rejection have brought him thus far.
Early reviews, however, are encouraging.
“Bold, devastating and utterly beautiful, Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix have not just reimagined one of the most iconic villains in cinema history, but reimagined the comic book movie itself," the Empire magazine says.