If you grew up reading James Hadley Chase and his prototype stories of the not so bad (but not good) protagonists, who always fell for the wrong woman, tried to make it big, but things went wrong in a very bad way – then this is a must watch for you! I am still stunned by the sheer quality, charisma and entertainment of this film. Dharam was Garam, Neil does a credible job as a heart-throb and the film probably shows him at his best, even Rimi Sen was competent. Dharam made me so nostalgic for the 70s – “It is not about age but mileage” LOL!!! I liked Rasika, Govind Namdeo, Zakir Hussain – in fact it is safe to say that no one turned in a bad performance. Neil Mukesh is one to watch out for – best when he played the innocent, but also great when he was the schemer. The new man about town was certainly Neil Nitin Mukesh after this film, too bad he has squandered most of that capital on lesser films and in lesser roles.
There were more references to everyone’s favorite moments in books (Hadley Chase mostly) and films (of course the ubiquitous Johnny Mera Naam, and many many Bachchan films including the early and all important Parwana) than I can remember (and it might take another viewing to capture them all!), there was your favorite music from yesteryear’s (Aage bhi jaane Na tu for one) and some cool new stuff, there was blood and gore galore, and there was an inevitability to the story (just like your favorite Hadley Chase book had).
And after you are done watching Johnny Gaddaar then go back and watch Jewel Thief and Johnny Mera Naam, maybe even Parwana, to get even more out of the film!
I highly recommend this film to all lovers of pulp fiction (and I do not mean the film alone), the noir genre, heists, double-crosses, and just unusual cinema that is very well done. Kudos to Sriram Raghavan, I wish I could get into his head to see where all this came from.