Remember the theme music of 70s flicks like AMIR GARIB, FAKIRA and TRAIN amongst the more popular YAADON KI BARAAT, KAALICHARAN and of course JOHNNY MERA NAAM, which is considered no less than a cult classic today? When you hear similar music in the opening credit title rolls of JOHNNY GADDAAR, you know that director's Sriram has his mind (and most importantly his heart) in the right place.
He does pay homage to the 'masala' flicks from the 70s but in the style of 21st century. Ab yeh hua naa ek unique combination!
So while Raghavan openly flouts his love for Amitabh Bachchan-Navin Nischol starrer PARWANA, he also makes a subtle reference to Al Pacino's SCARFACE. On the other hand what takes the cake is his keen study of films made by Guy Ritchie, Quentin Tarantino and Alfred Hitchcock amongst other greats.
Picture this. Debutant Neil Nitin Mukesh's journey across the cities during the first one hour of the film is inspired from PARWANA but shot in the style of Ritchie's work in SNATCH. Tarantino's love for a quirky background score and an edgy narrative a la PULP FICTION or KILL BILL series is more prominent in the second half (watch out for the scene where the South Indian nurse hits the cop played by Govind Namdeo - sheer Tarantino!).
Last but not the least, Hitchcock's school of 'suspense-management' finds a student in Raghavan as he shoots an elaborate train sequence sans any dialogues and at most times with no background score. What you hear though is the sound of train's wheels meeting the tracks under and your beating heart.
It is no ordinary sound of a train though! The hammer strong sound continues changing pitch and brings in variation as it passes next to a platform, in the open fields, under a bridge, over a bridge, next to another running train, coming to a halt, starting all over again etc. etc. etc. With such an extensive effort spent in just the sound department for a 15-20 minutes scene, one can expect so much more to be happening in this caper thriller which definitely requires you to carry your brains to the auditorium.
A man is shot in the first five minutes of the film and the noir journey begins. An illegal consignment has to be disposed off at a princely sum of 2.5 crores and the five wise men [Dharmendra, Neil, Vinay Pathak, Zakir Hussein, Daya Shetty] contribute 50 lakhs each to get the deal going. Except one of them who wants to have not just his pie but eat an entire cake].
Background score plays a vital role in making JOHNNY GADDAAR the kind of spice that makes you salivate but also ask for more. Alternatively, one gets to hear score from the 70s as well as the kind which is composed today. In fact not many are aware that songs like 'Ghadi Ki Suiyan Tik Tik Chalti Jaaye Re', 'Na Jaane Maine Kya Kiya' and 'Ye Zindagi Ke Raaste Hain Haseen' which play in the background are actually not the forgotten songs from the past but are pure original compositions created for JOHNNY GADDAAR!
Let's talk about performances now. No, the film doesn't belong to any one person! It in fact belongs to each and every one of the characters. And no, I am not talking about just the five gang members but also Rimi Sen and supporting characters played by Govind Namdeo and Ashwini Kalsekar. There are phases in the film where everyone gets an opportunity to hog the limelight and shine.
While Dharmendra is quite prominent in the first half of the film, Daya Shetty has at least a couple of moments - one when he is watching porn while being worried about his ailing mother and later in the elaborate train sequence. Also watch his expression when the lady next to him in the bogie drops her dentures in a water-filled bowl! Later Vinay and Ashwini have a lot to contribute while discussing family issues and the rese