A friend told me that I should watch Johnny Gaddar to appreciate how much a filmmaker could enjoy making a movie. He wasn't exaggerating. Sriram Raghavan has painstaking crafted every single frame in Johnny Gaddar, and it shows. I haven't enjoyed a Hindi film as much in recent times. And I don't just mean watching the delectable Neil Nitin Mukesh.
The movie is basically a whodunit, except we know who did it right from the very start. About 15 minutes into the movie, we know who the Gaddar (traitor) is and what he is about to do. The actual act of treachery occurs about 45 minutes into the film, and then you're like - what now? It is to Raghavan's credit that he keeps us glued to the screen with his fast paced narrative and tightly woven script. M, who was watching it with me could resist his glee at the movie's close resemblance to a James Hadley Chase thriller (In a recent interview, Raghavan cited James Hadley Chase, Vijay Anand and Amitabh Bachchan movies as sources of inspiration for Johnny Gaddar. As the title credits roll, we see the hero (anti-hero?) reading a James Hadley Chase novel).
Dharmedra not withstanding, there is no big star in the cast, which works well for the movie. Neil Nitin Mukesh as the traitorous Vikram carries the movie pretty well on his sculpted shoulders. Kudos for not choosing to debut as the standard Bollywood lover boy. Potential star in the making, provided he chooses his other scripts as well as this one. Vinay Pathak, Zakir Hussain and Rimi Sen are adequate. Govind Namdeo is excellent as the creepy, woman torturing cop(Hated that!).
The soundtrack, ah yes, the soundtrack. Shankar, Ehsan and Loy have had a field day making music for the film. The background score is cheeky, paying open homage to 70s Hollywood thrillers and their Bollywood remakes. The title track pulsates with a guitar that is reminiscent of pulp fiction films that I watched as a kid. Loved it.
Some reviewers have criticized Raghavan for not being original, one in particular said that Raghavan could be the next Sanjay Leela Bhansali if he wrote an original script. Puhleeez, give me a break. This is like watching Pulp Fiction and saying that Tarantino could be the next Ron Howard if he stuck to original scripts! Raghavan, whose last outing was the equally gripping Ek Hasina Thi (inspired by a Sidney Sheldon novel), doesn't need to be a Sanjay Leela Bhansali. In his own way, he's a truly original filmmaker and is a whiff of fresh air in an otherwise monotonous and saturated movie industry. And Johnny Gaddar is way better than much admired movies of recent times, like the overpraised Metro.
Verdict: Must watch!
Also watched Loins of Punjab Presents. Not your typical ABCD movie. The Turbantor (the Jedi life force of Bhangra) and the typical Gujju Patel family were the highlights of the film. The horny show coordinator who tries to seduce women with the the Gypsy Kings was a bit over the top. Funny when the jokes come in, but sloppily executed and slow paced otherwise. Watch on TV/DVD if you are bored.