Wednesday, August 06, 2008

talk about ishtyle: Johnny Gaddaar


Eeeeeeee this movie is so cool! Everything comes together so well - story, characters, settings, pacing, and I'd add dialogues if I'm allowed to gague them by subtitles! It all just works. It seems energies were expended to maximum effect and with no waste. It's so crisp, moving fast but with time to think about what's going on and why and who's acting in the way you think they will - and who isn't. Those are important qualities in a thriller: no one wants to be left behind in dusty confusion, but you want things to move. Speaking of movement, there are lots of cars and other vehicles in this movie, maybe because physically moving the characters around and changing locations underscores the idea that the characters' own facades and understandings of what's happening aren't fixed either. It's one of those great stories in which you know just enough to be able to keep up but not enough to get lazy. Knowledge is always in flux, and each thing learned has consequences. It's so interesting!

Everyone in it is very good - especially Dharmendra, whom I thought played his role with just the right touch and brought some winking film-world gravitas to this movie reference-soaked project.



What I feel I can honestly say about Neil Nitin Mukesh is that 1) he succeeded in this complicated central role, showing you how Vikram tries to handle all his lies and their consequences, and 2) he chose a really good debut film. Even Rimi Sen was compelling - I've seen her in several things and she's left no impression at all. She infused moll Mini with a nervous energy that kept me wondering what she was going to do next. Though in even smaller roles than Rimi's, Ashwini Khalsekar and Vyjayanthi do great things with what they're given as well. On that note: even though the female characters don't register much as developed people, they do and bring about a lot. That's new!

I really don't want to say or show much more because I don't want to hint at anything that happens. Just watch and enjoy the ride. Don't be surprised if you have to catch your breath a few times - but do be surprised at everything else.

A wee list of a few not-critical-to-plot things that caught my eye:

  • She's reading R. K. Narayan's The Guide!

    What does it all mean?!? There are tons of movie references in Johnny Gaddaar, but Guide isn't otherwise one of them, is it? And what contrast does it make to Vikram always holding James Hadley Chase (whom, incidentally, I just learned spent part of his childhood in India)?
  • Fish=Bluffmaster reference?
  • Look! So cool!
  • The person who did the titles deserves a special mention - as you can see, they're so fab.
    I watched them twice. Well done indeed, Huzefa Lokhandwala!

24 comments:

quirkyalone said...

I totally heart this film :) It's been a really long time since Bollywood came out with such a end-of-the-seat thriller. Btw, have u seen Sriram Raghavan's debut film...Ek Haseena Thi? It was one of RGV's assembly line productions but way better than the rest.

veracious said...

^ See, Beth, I keep telling you. Watch EHT! It's not much worse/freakier and definitely not scarier than Johnny Gaddaar, and it probably has less bodies. Plus Saif and Urmila, both delivering career best performances. Good stuff.

And yeah, some of the filmi references were really ..unrelated but I loved this subtle hopeful connection they made to Amitabh Bachchan starting out playing a villain and then becoming the biggest hero of them all - hoping of course, that Neil Nitin Mukesh would reach at least a quarter of that height. He seems like a cool dude, though, I hope he does make it (he was so overshadowed by Saanwariya/OSO debuts last year, though).

houseinrlyeh said...

Looks and sounds very interesting. A thriller with active female characters, you say? I'd watch for that alone.

Dinesh said...

The film is dedicated to Vijay Anand, Dev's director brother, and his best movie was arguably Guide (1965), based on R.K. Narayan's novel. Thus, the book Rimmi's character's reading.

Beth said...

quirkyalone - Yeah! It's very heart-able. I haven't seen Ek Haseena Thi yet because I keep thinking it'll be too scary for me (I have an incredibly low threshold for scariness) - but with veracious reassuring me, I'm much more game to try.

veracious - That was cool! I wonder how Vikram in this movie compares to his Parwana role - that is, are they similar types of villains? Agreed that NNM projects a lot of cool - can't wait to see what else he can do. Based on their introductory films, I certainly think he's got more to go on than Ranbir.

houseinrlyeh - They're active, but they're not in it much, which makes it all the more interesting. One could probably argue that they're reactive, specifically, but I don't really care - they are engaged and involved, and I'll happily take that.

Dinesh - Oooh! Thanks for the dedication info - somehow I totally missed that.

Amrita said...

I believe reading James Hadley Chase is bollywood shorthand for "this guy is cool and has dangerous passions. also he spik da inglis, walk da inglis, smile da inglis." however, that's sort of dated. i don't know if anyone reads chase in India any more. Actually, i'm surprised at the Guide reference too. agreeably so.

Seconding EHT. It's a sort of Indian take on Sidney Sheldon's If Tomorrow Comes.

PS- I wrote a HUGE comment for Ajooba and your blog ate it. Mean!

Filmi Girl said...

I'm glad you liked "Johny Gaddar"! Rimi Sen was okay - better than she has been in other things - but for me the real stand-out female character was the beauty salon owner/wife of one of the gang members. She was so excellent!

I was also disappointed at the lack of song picturizations, but I guess we can't have everything... ;P

Anjana said...

i watched it today and i loved the movie!!! :)

the pace is great and i loved that it wasn't interrupted by unnecessary song sequences.

the growth of neil's character from fumbling murderer-by-mistake to an experienced cover-all-tracks type was remarkable. classy movie, classy plot, classy graphics and classy shots!

btw, i love deepa (DCH) too, cuz she reminds me of.... me!! haha.

-anjana
http://thenewbnb.rediffblogs.com

Dinesh said...

@ amrita - The Chase reference is pretty curious, i mean, the guy wrote hard-boiled pulp crime novels and he was never popular in the US. In fact, he was read mostly in Africa, Asia and the USSR.

@ filmi girl - Totally agree with you, the beauty parlour woman was brilliant, especially if you compare her work here with her usual 'saas-bahu' serial roles.

@ Beth - Your welcome. BTW, I love your blog. And before I forget, Neil's nickname in the movie, Johnny, is also an homage to Vijay Anand's 'Johnny Mera Naam'. There's one track in the OST that begins with Dev Anand screaming 'Johnny mera naam hai'

Beth said...

Amrita - I can see that, yeah. You think Vikram is supposed to be retro in any way?

Filmi Girl - Absolutely, Ashwini Khalsekar is fantastic. I wish she was around a little more in the movie. I was okay with the lack of picturizations because the songs that were there were 1) sort of "enh," mostly, and 2) I liked the night club interludes with people singing. I thought that worked, tone-wise. I really did think we might get a Vikram number at the beginning as he danced around his apartment - something like the beginning of Bluffmaster, just the lead guy hangin' out bein' cool.

Anjana - Yay! I agree, that was a great arc, and definitely classy-ly (not a word, I'm sure) done.

And I will ALWAYS say HURRAH for Deepa and those who love her!

Also, you're in urban design? We must talk! I love that stuff (but know nothing)!

Dinesh - Thank you! I had noticed the Dev clip - not sure how I managed to catch it particularly, since I've seen so few of his movies and that one isn't one of them. Maybe it was the screaming :)

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

It IS a good movies- but I am so flippant and shallow- I think the best thing about it was the very pretty Neil :D And I like Dharam for picking the part he played- that was a v strong role, fabulously executed!

Nirvana said...

Hi,

I agreed substantially with ur comments on Johnny Gaddar. Have a look at my review (http://nirvana73.blogspot.com/2008/02/movie-review-johnny-gaddar-johnny.html). Would difffer with u on the acting of Dharmendra, Neil Nitin and Rimi. Hmm....food for thought.

Regards

Nirvana
@http://www.nirvana73.blogspot.com/

Filmi Girl said...

That clip from Johny Mera Naam was so well placed! Have you seen that one yet? I highly recommend it. The clip comes from the climax of the film where Pran and Dev are having a brotherly wrestling match on top of a hill.

And you really need to watch "Ek Hasina Thi!" It's not too scary - just suspenseful. Plus, there is a great womens prison sequence with tough lady gangster Pratima Kazmi.

Anonymous said...

so cool!, yeah right!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I watched this movie over the weekend based on your blog - and thanks, I loved it!

Beth said...

Shweta - Nothing wrong with that. And yeah, he is very pretty.

Nirvana - Always fun to read other opinions!

Filmi Girl - I haven't, sadly. It's on the list. And maybe I'll get to Ek Hasina Thi sooner now - though the friend I want to watch it with just moved to Chicago.... BOOO.

Anon 2 - Glad you liked it!

call me tapan said...

well while watching the movie JOHNY GADDAR you will noptice the lead guiy(neil) was reading a James Hadley Chase. novel. well in railway stations most of the novels sold are of mr. chase's. he is teh msot popular novelist in railawy statiosn. well it was fun when i noticed this a song from the movie.(heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy johny) the song was cool. but my friends think it got no meaning only got some abusive dirty language

Beth said...

tapan - Ah, that's the connection! Thanks!

bollyviewer said...

I just finished watching the film and am still reeling from the thrills. :-) It was super - one of the best thrillers I've seen in recent times. And I loved Dharmendra in it too. In fact I loved everybody in it - especially beautiful Neil.

The film dedication at the beginning names both Vijay Anand and James Hadley Chase. Hence the Chase novel. The Guide is perhaps to show how cultured and sensitive Rimi's character is - like Lolita showed Nanda's modernity in Jab Jab Phool Khile. Anyhow, I am watching the making of the film DVD which will perhaps answer some more questions. So far I've found that some of the songs were a homage to Helen's 60s and 70s cabaret numbers (hmm... those references were too obscure for me - I did recognise remixes of some 70s songs though).

ojasvi mohanty said...

hey, would like to make an addition to your 'A wee list of a few not-critical-to-plot things that caught my eye'. Introduction of Shiva or one of the first scenes with him, he's seen watching tv, while he lies about being with his mom in the hospital. He's watching Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut.

And I love how Vikram stocks his matchboxes in an empty fish bowl.

Raghavan is a very attentive director, who makes 1 movie every 3-4 years. Next one is Agent Vinod. Not to be missed.

Beth said...

Good catch on the Kubrick!

I'm really excited about Agent Vinod too!

zeeniebaby said...

Another reference for your list: "Mora gora and lei le", the song that Dharmendra listens to, supposedly sung by his character's wife in the movie, is from the 1963 movie Bandini starring Nutan, Ashok Kumar and a young Dharmendra. However, in that movie Nutan's character sings it for Ashok Kumar.

ojasvi mohanty said...

Another one spotted recently is from Raiders of the Lost Ark, a line by Indy is bettered and used by Dharmendra - " It's not the age, it's the mileage" :D

ojasvi mohanty said...

One more (whew) – Citizen Kane when the female lead is assembling the huge jigsaw puzzle :) Don't we love Raghavan.