Movie: Johnny Gaddaar (2007, Hindi, India)

Review of the classic 2007 Indian thriller movie – Johnny Gaddaar by Sriram Raghavan. Starring Dramendra, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Vinay Pathak.

Johnny Gaddaar (2007 Movie) - DVD Cover ImageJohnny Gaddaar, based in Mumbai and placed in 2000s, is a tightly-crafted, crime-based, suspense-thriller that turned out to be a surprise hit in 2007. The movie was later remade in the South India in other languages.

Johnny Gaddaar has a James Hadley Chase feel to it. The title has some connection to Vijay Anand’s Johnny Mera Naam of the 70s.

Johnny Gaddaar is loosely adapted from Stanley Kubrick’s black classic The Killing.

Directed bySriram Raghavan
Released in2007
GenreCrime, Thriller
  • Dharmendra as Sheshadri ‘Seshu’
  • Neil Nitin Mukesh as Vikram
  • Zakir Hussain as Shardul
  • Vinay Pathak as Prakash ‘Pakya’
  • Dayanand Shetty as Shiva
  • Govind Namdeo as Inspector Kalyan
  • Ashwini Kalsekar as Varsha (Prakash’s wife)
  • Rimi Sen as Mini (Vikram’s Girlfriend and Shardul’s Wife)
Music byShankar Ehsaan Loy
Produced byAdlabs Films Ltd.
Written bySriram Raghavan
Length2 hours

The Plot

Seshadri/ Seshu (played by Dharmendra) is an ageing criminal in Mumbai, who gets an opportunity to do a big drug deal. He ropes in Prakash (played by Vinay Pathak), Shardul (played by Zakir Hussain), Shiva (played by Dayanand Shetty), and Vikram (played by Neil Nitin Mukesh).

The deal is to deliver 2.5 crore rupees to a cop – Inspector Kalyan, pick a drug consignment from him, transport it from Bangalore to Mumbai and sell it for double the money in Mumbai.

All five raise their share of the 2.5 crore, and plan and assign various tasks between themselves. One of the five decides that he is better off with the whole 2.5 crores, and creates and alternate plan to double-cross his mates. The plan involves being in one city while pretending to be in another (inspired by an old Amitabh Bachan starrer Parwana).

The rest of the movie is about how the traitor’s alternate plan gets unstuck, how members of the gang keep getting killed one by one, and all the surviving gang members continuously suspect each other. And then Inspector Kalyan joins the already messy situation in Mumbai and brings in his investigative skills, brutality and institutional resources available to identify the ‘gaddaar’.

Unpredictable, Taut, and Slick – One of the Best Thrillers from Bollywood

Very slick and racy, the best thing about Johnny Gaddaar is its unpredictability – in the twists and turns of the plot, the nuances of the characters, and their interactions. Though the ‘gaddaar’ (traitor) is known to the audience pretty early, one still awaits in anticipation (I have watched the movie 3 times, and knowing the story does not spoil it for me). The pace has a right mix of slow segments with sudden picking up of speed.

There are many humorous scenes – including the genesis of the name Johnny Gaddaar.

Here is a clip that includes Seshadri/ Seshu, getting sentimental about his dead wife while also clinching the drug deal:

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The music is racy and refreshing – a blend of modern techno and old melody.

It will be best to watch the movie in one go without advertisements, otherwise you could get impatient. It does not matter whether you see it on the big screen or the small screen, since the movie does not depend on special effects.

Highly recommended for lovers of pulp fiction, black humor, heists, double-crosses, and thriller cinema that is slick.

Here is the trailer of Johnny Gaddaar:

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Your comments are welcome, especially if you have seen the movie!

Author: Rajesh Naik

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