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No Comebacks: Movie Review of Johnny Gaddaar Saturday, 18 April, 2009

Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
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The Game

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 players

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 show

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.



1. eye-in-sty-in - Sunday, 19 April, 2009

Loved watching this movie! Enjoyed a good hindi thriller after a long time!

~uh~: Do watch ‘Khamosh’, it’s the best so far.

2. shatrughan - Monday, 8 June, 2009

Socha Na Tha was debut movie of imitaz ali (jab we met)..anyway nice write…

~uh~: Thanks for pointing it out, its corrected now. I meant ‘ Ek Hasina Thi’.

3. Ravi Chander - Monday, 17 August, 2009

Good review! Enthused me to watch JG.

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