Shirish Kunder’s Joker, didn’t really stand a chance at the box-office. Even if had been a masterpiece—which it wasn’t by a long shot—it still had no chance of success. Because by the time it came out, moviegoers had already decided that Kunder was a rude upstart, and they didn’t want to see his film.
It happens a lot that a person’s private life or public behaviour—as reported by the media—has an impact on their films. Which is not to say that stars have to project a saintly image to people, but that they have to control what gets out and when something unsavoury does get out then how it is perceived; if there is a negative perception then how to damage control. And once that is achieved by a mix of clever PR, image management, and just enough honesty to get by, then the star can get away with murder.
Salman Khan has got this down pat, and now he can be nasty to journalists and behave as bratty as he pleases, the response is : Sallubhai is a child at heart, he means no ill. Sanjay Dutt managed to wipe away his dark phase with Munnabhai cheeriness, marriage and a hands-on-fatherhood. Now Sanjubaba can do no wrong.
No wonder stars have a battery of spokespersons and image consultants now. And the mask cannot slip—look at the flak Shah Rukh Khan got for the fracas at the IPL match, or for that slapping incident with Shirish Kunder. Stars simply cannot be allowed to run riot, the fate of their multi-crore films depend on how much the public loves them at any point of time. Again, love of the public does not guarantee success—or none of the Bachchan Family films would have flopped—but it lessens the chance of failure.
Kunder, already—and unjustly—perceived as an opportunist for marrying the successful Farah Khan, started shooting his mouth of before he had a hit to show for himself. Anybody who makes a big dud like Jaaneman, or is part of a bigger dud like Tees Maar Khan, is hardly in a position to make fun of the failure of Ra.One.
And if a filmmaker is scoffing at another, than he (she) must have the ability to deliver a flawless film, so that he (she) can rightly say, “This is how a good sci-fi fantasy is made.” But you can’t be unpopular and make a film like Joker. Even if Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha had stood by the film and promoted it like mad, even if the promos had not got the audience turned off, Joker would have trouble getting off to a good start. Now Shirish Kunder has two tough tasks ahead of him—make a film that will wipe the smirk of people’s faces and do something to make everyone like him again. He has just been ‘kicked’ off a project, now’s a good time to start!