Indiatimes Movie Review: Johnny Gaddaar

28 Sep, 2007 06:32 pm ISTlPraveen Lance Fernandes/INDIATIMES MOVIES
Cast: Dharmendra, Neil Mukesh, Zakir Hussain, Vinay Pathak, Rimmi Sen, Govind Namdeo, Daya Shetty, Ashvini Kalsekar.
Director: Sriram Raghavan
Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Rating: ****

If Farah Khan claimed Main Hoon Na to be a tribute to Bollywood films of the 70s and 80s, Sriram Raghavan pin-points to one of the finest storytellers – Vijay Anand. In fact before the title credits, he pays tribute to Vijay Anand and author James Hadley Chase, a pioneer in the thriller department. Clearly Sriram is a person who had been exposed to films like Jewel Thief , Teesri Manzil and Johnny Mera Naam and their influence is evident in the film. No, Johnny Gaddaar is not a plagiarized or partly inspired film. This is a film which stands out on it own thanks to a well written script.

/photo.cms?msid=2412381 Shashadri (Dharmendra), Vikram (Neil Mukesh), Shardul (Zakir Hussain), Prakash (Vinay Pathak) and Shiva (Daya Shetty) have to come up with Rs. 2.5 crores between them to purchase heroin worth Rs. 5 crores from a corrupt police-officer (Govind Namdeo). Once they get the money, Shiva is given the responsibility of delivering the money to the cop. But he doesn’t make it. Rather his dead body is found. Who killed him and robbed the five of their money? Was it one of them or did someone get air about their plans? No- that’s not what the suspense is about. In fact the audience comes to know exactly who the Gaddaar is but the beauty lies in the fact that the rest of the gang-members and the cop don’t know it. If we saw the desi-version of Reservoir Dogs in the form of Sanjay Gupta’s Kaante , it revealed the snitch in the very end. But that is not the case here. Unlike all other thrillers that we are accustomed to witnessing, this one is completely different.

Other characters like Shardul’s wife Mini (Rimmi Sen), Prakash’s wife (Ashvini Kalsekar), Shiva’s girlfriend Vyjanti all have an important role to play in the film. These subplots are all intertwined within the narrative and they never act as hindrances.

/photo.cms?msid=2412383 What works is the fact that minute things shown earlier in the film come cropping up once again adding to the punch of the already existing plot. I’m trying my level best to keep all these things in my own stomach so that nothing is given away while writing the review.

Director Sriram has paid homage to quite a few people and movies in his film. Parwana, Johnny Mera Naam , etc. are just a few films we get references of.

This film clearly belongs to the Gaddaar . Despite various talents forming the ensemble cast, it is the dhokebaaz who stands out in the end. Dharmendra comes back once again in top form and unlike Apne he doesn’t have to show his emotional side. The tough guy image that he showcased a number of times in his hey-days is what he continues doing with charisma. True to his own words- “It’s not about age, it’s about mileage.”

Sonam, Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone will make their debuts in huge popcorn masala flicks this Diwali but despite making a low profile debut in this film, Neil Mukesh is bound to get noticed. Not once do you get an idea that this guy is a newcomer. Zakir Hussain shows his versatility once again and does complete justice to his role. Vinay Pathak sadly doesn’t have much to do. Rimmi looks beautiful as usual and does quite well for herself. Lending adequate support are Ashwini Kalsekar and Govind Namdeo along with Rasika Joshi.

/photo.cms?msid=2412384 If Raghavan’s Ek Hasina Thi showed promise, it looks like ABC when compared to this one. Without doubt the director has concentrated on the script completely. Johnny Gaddaar is by far one of the best thrillers witnessed in Hindi cinema. Sriram clearly proves that his first film wasn’t a fluke.

Last week, we saw another thriller in the form of Manorama – Six Feet Under but somewhere the film seemed a bit difficult to comprehend. Johnny Gaddaar is self-explanatory and nothing goes over the top. Lack of promotion and star-value is resulting in the film running to empty houses. Take advantage of the situation and watch the film now.

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