Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Johnny Gaddar" (Language - Hindi) (2007) - Movie Review

“Ek Haseena Thi” by Sriram Raghavan was the kind of debut one would hope to get and more importantly the freedom of placing the passion for the genre of crime noir in to action. Ram Gopal Varma provided that and “Johnny Gaddar” would have been an erotic dream for the director to shoot. It is the film noir which in its dark tones, sharp screenplay and characters being their characters enable it rightly and with a loyalty very rarely found.

It follows five characters and couple of them around them. Some are single, couple of them is married and there runs an affair and it is all happening. But the affair is a motivation for the character than a sleazy addition for the noir. The protagonist of this film is Vikram (debutant Neil Nitin Mukesh), young handsome aspirant operating along with four other partners. The matured aged man and the unofficial head of the clan is Seshadri (Dharmendra), whom every one respects gets a call from a police officer Kalyan (Goving Namdeo) providing an opportunity of smuggling goods acquired during his raid. Seshadri gathers the others along with Vikram who are Shiva (Daya Shetty) for the muscle and two rivalry money men Shardul (Zakir Hussein) and Prakash (Vinay Pathak). Seshadri plans the transaction with share from each and Shiva carrying the money to Bangalore for the exchange. One decides to take it out all and of course everything begins to happen unexpectedly to be greatly fortunate for this Johnny G(addar).

Hindi films are not dry for sleek and style. In fact in recent times it is only about sleek and style. Young actors with cool shades singing towards the camera with skinny model actresses have become a fodder for cheap gimmicky music videos. And this film uses for once the sleekness for its genre. It smears the colours merging with the living room of a cozy apartment or a back room of flashy club.

The black sheep is no suspense. The traitor is the likeable and unknown face Vikram played by Neil Nitin Mukesh. The casting does most of the character convincing for us. Choosing veteran actor Dharmendra to be the old wise man of likeable nature by all is one proof of its smartness and having a young new face for a character that we believe in every form of his innocence and betrayal is another. Vikram is the happy go lucky kid when it comes to romancing with his partner’s wife Minni (Rimi) while a son of opportunist when there is chance for quick money. But mainly are his adapting and improvising skills when the fortune and chances pave way for him and eliminates one after another hurdle smoothly, swiftly without any suspicion. While the coincidence masquerades his mistakes, he twists and turns it for his next plan of action.

“Johnny Gaddar” is a work of a writer who has enjoyed that genre of noir with a sort of drooling passion. Sriram Raghavan not alone writes a script with happenings a sort of characters anticipation and preconceived notions into this game of assumption and conspicuous catches of the protagonist’s mistakes but edits it to give the vicious circle of chances and identities. It has suspense and we laugh at the fate working the equations out with many cancellations to achieve the result. Yet it is not a mathematical exercise of step by step derivation but a beautiful presentation of a screenplay with a precision and delivery as David Mamet.

We have been mesmerized by the crime solving detective stories from the old black and white films (Sriram Raghavan actually resisted the temptation to make the whole film in black and white). It has the setup and situation with one central character of balanced stature stands in the middle to find out the culprit and we get a thriller noir out of it. The darkness of the crime as such has rarely been made with results of its own derivative of justice. I can only remember such a daring attempt in tamil called “Sollaathe Yaarum Kettal” with Prathap Bothan as a bank teller who steals money from his bank and that eats his thoughts day in and day out. Similarly the old classic “Saathu Mirandaal” is another noir with much thrilling and some times scary film. Both those films are out of the ordinary effort in times people rarely acknowledging those but the theme of noir has never been captured with richness and ripeness as “Johnny Gaddar” does.


Karthik said...

Pirri padam...i loved it and infact recommended our Mathi ,,asusual he refused because its a hindi movie

Ashok said...

I loved the film too. Nicely made.