No Comebacks: Movie Review of Johnny Gaddaar Saturday, 18 April, 2009Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
Tags: Ashwini Kalsekar, Crime, Debut, Dharmendra, drama, Govind Namdeo, James Hadley chase, Johnny Gaddaar, Johny Mera Naam, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Parwana, Rimi Sen, Sriram Raghavan, suspense, Thriller, Vijay Anand, Vinay Pathak, Zakir Hussain
Most of the successful crime thriller’s successes are driven by the quotient of audience involvement. More the audience gets involved, the more they want to dictate the script or the scenes with ” just if it was….” or ” if only he would have….” kind of suggestions. A suspense thriller involves the audience right from the beginning, keeps him captivated throughout the story, ends with such an unwanted, radical and appalling way, the audience is left poisonously enchanted.
Afterwards, a thought comes to mind about the complexities & every step of the story building to recollect if something was missing in the alibi or continuity. If nothing else, basic human sins like infidelity are pondered upon and we try to learn a lesson from it. And invariably, every moral of these stories are ” Crime doesn’t pay” or as Sir Forsyth says ” No comebacks”!
Johny Gaddar does it all and more.
The pack & the deal
The movie starts with 70′s kinda jhankar music while flashing the credits on screen. If you notice the way the film name is written on the posters, clearly indicates the Director’s fondness & homage to the 70′s thrillers- Johny Mera Naam, Kalicharan, Parwana. While Raghavan openly declares his script inspiration from Parwana & James Hadley Chase, his direction reminds me of Tarantino, RGV and at places Hitchcock. I may sound like going overboard, but can’t help it.
A tip to those who might get convinced to see this movie- please don’t be late to reach the theatre and don’t miss the opening 5 min scene. It’s the last scene shown in the beginning in typical thriller style, with a totally radical interpretation after seeing movie. Sure symptom of a copybook suspense thriller.
The basic framework of the script is based on infidelity and deceit of one member of a 5 member smuggling group, who otherwise are partners of a gambling den disguised as a club. There’s a big bounty of Rs 2.5 Cr return on investment of 50 lacs from each member through a deal to be closed in three days. Out Johnny boy, being in love with one of the gang member’s wife plans to betray others and flee with the cash with his lovebird. Things go wrong in a typical Butterfly Effect starting with a minor car accident. Then there’s no looking back for Johnny Boy.
What we get here is a fast paced and grasping sequence of events crafted carefully with near flawless precision. The detailing of alibis is near perfect, with the characters interwoven throughout. The storytelling in not entirely dark articulated with timely humour.
The best thing about this movie is everyone contributes his two cents equally and no actor overshadows each other. The movie is not dependent on any particular character’s performance; though Neil Nitin Mukesh as Vikram plays the pivotal role. The best thing about scripts is that the movie zooms into the personal lives of the characters to make them more human and create a sense of belongingness and sympathy.
Neil is a cute looking poker face guy with golden stubble who outperforms his role at places. He has an intelligent but very soft look, which contradicts his noxious deeds, thus increasing the shock value to a greater extent. Though sometimes, I felt he is bit too expressionless- at two instances at least, scene with Mini in his apartment & Sheshadri’s house.
Dharmendra as Sheshadri is like an old Banyan tree, protecting his disciples. He played very soft and human, yet rock solid in his principles & leadership command. Excellent performance.
Vinay Pathak as Prakash or Pakia is one of the softest guy in the gang with a nice family. He is quirky in dialogues, radiates warmth to his friends and no way seems to be harmful. The scene with him & Johnny is extremely well done. Ashwini Kalsekar (looks quite like an endowed Kashmira Shaw), surprisingly did a great job as a stubborn & protective wife. Vinay’s relationship with his wife and persuasion for money is beautifully captured.
Zakir Hussain as Shardul is another pillar. He has a penchant for weird characters- remember the villain having tea with Sarkar before going down under water? Or the amateur kidnapper in Sirf 24 ghante? Here, he is the most affluent of the members and most connected one too. The most colourful character adorned with typical 70′s printed shirts, a skewed smile, lot of venom and rivalrly against Prakash. He outperformed too.
Daya Shetty as Shiva is the tough guy with minimum screen presence, but creates a good impact. His expressions are quite real during the porn watching scene & train fight scene. His expression during the interaction with the old lady co-passenger in the train sequence was amusing too, especially when she takes her dentures out before going to bed. Also isn’t it amusing to see a big guy carrying 2.5 Crs, inflating an air pillow on request!
Govind Namdeo- after his powerpacked performance in Satya as bhau and Sarfarosh, expectation is always high from him. Though his role is very short, he plays a cop and critical link between the gang members. Out & out brilliant characterization & dialogue delivery, though chopping the finger of the nurse Vaijanti was unnecessary violence.
Rimi Sen- Our little Johnny dares to keep Shardul’s wife as his secret lover. Surprisingly, Rimi fits his role quite well (remember this is not a comedy film or Dhoom)
The first half of the movies is like a narrative reinforced with excellent background score. The various meetings between the group members while the deal making keep the suspense mounting. Event after event the plot thickened & I was intrigued more to see what happens next. The Train scene cinematography has a clear shadow of Hitchcock. The train’s natural noise has been used as a background here, with brilliant camerawork. The torture scene of Namdeo & the nurse reminded me of Tarantino.
The movie shifts gear to achieve a faster pace in the Second half and there’s no looking back, either for Johnny boy or the audience. The retro style songs like ‘Ghadi Ki Suiyan Tik Tik Chalti Jaaye Re’, ‘Na Jaane Maine Kya Kiya’ and ‘Ye Zindagi Ke Raaste Hain Haseen’ are all original compositions and not taken from some forgotten 70′s movie. Composers Vishal Dadlani, Shekhar Ravjiani did create some magic here !
After a two & hours of roller coaster ride and numerous edge-of-the-seat suspense sequences, I almost got involved into the world of infidelity, deceit, counterfeit, back-stabbing and blind love only to get a solid jerk at the end.
May the best hand win
I don’t remember which was the last Hindi movie I enjoyed on this genre. Unfortunately I have not seen Ek Hasina Thi ( before watching JG, howver I have seen it now), the debut of director Sriram Raghavan, which I hear is excellent. After Parinda, Khiladi & Gupt this is one of the best made suspense thriller of our times.
The movie script may not be original, but the way this film is made gives a reason to celebrate cinema lovers in India. The fact that there is no major “star” (except Dharmendra), it may not do well in the box office too. But I firmly believe this movie will make its own niche in its genre and would satisfy quality cinema lovers over years to come.
Go watch it. Missing this would be a crime.
Ps: Punchline learnt- Jiske sarpe Bhagwaan ka haath hoita ha, use ungli nahin karte.
Every Story tells about Pictures Thursday, 9 April, 2009Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
Tags: Aa Dekhen Zaara, Akshay Kumar, Ayesha Takia Azmi, Bipasha, Complan, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Picture, Review, Sci-Fi, Tasveer 8x10, Thriller
This post was originally posted on PFC and cross posted here.
I watched two movies last weekend, both of which happened to be thrillers dealing with pictures. More precisely Photographs taken by a camera. This post is a twin review.
1. Tasveer 8 x 10
Director: Nagesh Kukunoor
Genre: Whodunnit Thriller
My Rating : 1/5
Jai Puri (Akshay Kumar) founder member of an organization called EPS (Environmental Protection Services or Society) whose job includes catching illegal poachers. He lives together with voluptuously innocent (or innocently voluptuous) girlfriend Sheela (Ayesha Takia Azmi), who still looks like a Complan girl, enlarged.
Jai has an unnatural talent to concentrate into any picture, quickly pass out and then witness the events that occurred immediately after the picture is shot, through the eyes of the picture taker. He can ‘enter’ the picture and reach that exact particular time in past and start witnessing the event. However, this time travel takes a toll on his health subjecting him to near-death experience. Somehow (?) he has found that his optimal stay in past can’t exceed 60 seconds, for him to return safely. Except for his mom (Sharmila Tagore) and Dad (Bengamin Gillani) no one knows about this rare gift of his.
During a yacht party rich dad falls on the cold water and dies of heart attack. A perfectionist detective named Habibullah Pasha aka Happi with an ‘i’(Javed Jafferey) arrives and tells Jai that it’s a murder and not an accident.
As the movie is a whodunit, then efforts are put to make all the characters look like a suspect. Eventually most of the people get killed. The leftover people alive (only three of them) start living happily ever after.
Mentally prepared by reading the published reviews, I was expecting a treatment different from the Director’s other movies alright. After watching it, judging by the typical Kukunoor treatment in movies like Teen Deewaryein, Iqbal, Dor or even recent Bombay to Bangkok, it is difficult to grasp that this is a work by the same Director.
It was more like an Abbas-Mastan movie. Where when you almost guessed the whodunit, the plot takes an unbelievably radical twist and then events and flashbacks are shown to justify the impossibility. There were clues are given, but I could not guess the killer.
Some of the Abbas Mastan symptoms in the movie noticed are as follows-
- Absence of a logical script. Everything happens should be believed as it is shown.
- Because Akshay Kumar is the hero he has to jump from 100 ft high cliff, shot by 4 different cameras, slow motion et al.
- Rich dad and independent son maintain a difference with each other for some unknown reasons (probably environment pollution).
- Wealth is never quantified.
- Dad decided to celebrate his will with family and shareholders (serious dudes like Girish Karnad, Anant Mahadevan) on his yacht.
- Jai Puri and big Complan girl goes out cycling through dirt tracks meandering amidst lush green meadows during normal working hours.
- Everyone lives in grand postcard look bungalows and drives Volkswagens, Chevrolets, SUVs. The weather is always brilliant and bright.
- When desi people are angry or emotional, they speak angrezi.
- A sibling is the greatest enemy.
- Good friends always backstab.
- Girlfriend lives together and ditches.
- An Indian lady soothsayer lands in Canada for no apparent reason and gets killed.
- White skinned people are just morons and they understand Hindi very well.
- Mother has an old flame who is also the lawyer of the ex-husband.
- Amazing landscape, panoramic view and exotic locales.
- There’s Bohemia rap at the end singing ‘I got the picture’, in case you don’t get the picture.
Some other serious concerns observed
- Javed Jaffrey does his best, but his character, victim of perfectionism, an obsessive compulsive disorder, is not funny if it was supposed to be. Anyway it’s not funny to kill the funny guy.
- Veterans like Sharmila Tagore and Girish Karnad doing arbitrary and insignificant roles.
- Music which used to be one of the key elements in Kukunoor’s films is a complete letdown. Other than Mohit Chauhan‘s voice, Salim Suleiman’s music couldn’t create any interest.
- How will Ayesha takia end bloating?
- The only part of the movie worth mentioning is the James Bond like title sequence at the beginning.
- All in all this movie can be easily renamed as THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN GILANI !
2. Aa Dekhen Zara
Director: Jehangir Surti (debut)
Genre: Thriller/ Sci Fi
My Rating : 2/5
Here the protagonist clicks picture on an old box camera to see the future. The movie started well with Raj (Neil Nitin Mukesh), the struggling photographer gradually discovering the power of his camera gifted by his scientist grandfather. He makes quick bucks by seeing the future lottery results and gains confidence. He then steps up winning into bigger fields like Race, Cricket betting and finally the Stock Market. Cash overflows his apartment. Meantime he impresses his bong neighbor, item-bomb DJ Simi (Bipasha Basu). He clicks a picture of his own and sees his death within 6 days. Just when things seemed to get interesting, the movie falls flat on its face once the baddies (Rahul Dev, Bobby Vatsa) are introduced. The audience is then force fed the Hindi film formulae. The story moves to Bangkok and few car chases happens, a leggy babe (Sophie Choudhury) comes in, random shootouts kill the baddies before a typical filmy end.
ADZ still had potential to become interesting but the debutant Director decides to focus more on visual gimmicks than the story itself. It’s one of those shallow good looking cinema, which doesn’t give any satisfaction to the intelligent mind. Also the stereotypical treatment to Neil’s character after his Johny Gaddar portrayal is remarkably conspicuous. He is single, stays in an apartment with a pet (a pigeon this time) and doesn’t know how to smile. Neil should join some chin exercise class and learn to show some expression other than the ‘stern look’, ‘cold look’ and ‘ stern cold look’. This is a red alert for him. One more role like this and he would definitely become the Woody Alone of Hindi film industry.
The title song is a remake from Rocky (Sanjay Dutt’s debut) is sung by Neil himself and there’s no apparent connection otherwise. The song ‘paisa hai power’ is also a remake of I got the Power by the Snap!
The end of the movie can literally be translated as ‘All’s well when it ends in a well”.
If every picture tells a story and a picture is worth million words I am jaded after digesting so many words in one weekend.