Although having the distinction of being the first and only movie where you didn’t drift away in the middle to wonder HOW Neil Nitin Mukesh is THAT white, Sriram Raghavan’s Johnny Gaddar will go down history more for being the finest neo-noir film to have come out of modern Hindi cinema.
Yes, some will debate that Raghavan’s debut film, Ek Haseena Thi or Navdeep Singh’s Manorama Six Feet Under may win that title. Others may feel that even Karan Johar’s Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna has a solid chance (remember the gripping mystery of the, gulp, BLACK BEAST… no, not talking about Rani Mukherjee here). But they will obviously be wrong.
Because few Indian screenplays have been as edgy, few Indian background scores (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) have been as effective, and few Indian ‘suspense thrillers’ have had twists as unpredictable as that in Johnny Gaddar. Most importantly, none of those films has Dharamendra in them… Johnny Gaddar 1, Rest 0.
In the movie, Dharamendra plays the leader of a gang of crooks that includes Mukesh, Zakir Hussain, Vinay Pathak and Dayanand Shetty (of CID’s ‘Daya, darwaza tod do’ fame ). The gang pulls off a deal with a great payoff and goes for a fair split, until we find that Mukesh’s character (Vikram) has other plans. But Vikram doesn’t know what he’s up against. So there are twists, turns, and lots of murders, before you find out what really happened with all that money.
‘Masterful’ is a word that immediately comes to mind after you are done with the Johnny Gaddar experience. Not only does Raghavan construct a flawless screenplay about a shady deal gone wrong, intertwining elements of deceit, greed and lust, he also ingeniously weaves in nods to pulp fiction masters and art he’s inspired by.
From Vijay Anand and Robert Hadley Chase to Johnny Mera Naam, Parwaana, Bandini and Sin City, the film is certainly a throwback and a tribute – but it also stands firmly on its own feet as an intelligent and very original crime thriller that’s set a tall order for any tentative Hindi suspense flick to catch up to (an order Abbas-Mustan will not be able to live upto even if they were reborn as one instead of two!).
Watch Johnny Gaddar for all the above reasons, as well a film tutorial in how to tint a movie in a particular hue expertly, that Sanjay Leela Bhansali or Sanjay Gupta will just not be able to give you.
Starring: Neil Nitin Mukesh, Dharamendra, Rimi Sen, Vinay Pathak, Zakir Hussain, Dayanand Shetty, Govind Namdeo, Ashwini Khalsekar
Written By: Sriram Raghavan and Vinay Choudary
Directed By: Sriram Raghavan
Note: This recommendation first appeared in MTV Noise Factory, April 2011 issue
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