(For Hari Jr)
I am a barber by profession, murderer by accident, and today a human because of you.
– A repentant Vidyasagar (Rajinikanth) to Archana (Sridevi) in the Tamil film Johnny (1980)
Considering the abysmal quality of most Tamil movies that are made by schmucks for schmucks, the over three-decades-old Johnny is a darn good film.
And the credit in our not so humble opinion ought to go first to director Mahendran, second to music director Ilayaraja and finally to the Rajinikanths (yes, there are two).
Such is the appeal of the film that 32 years after its debut, some SI blog readers still hanker for the Johnny review.
An embarras de richesse, surely Johnny’s melodious songs will continue to be hummed and listened to long after the key people involved with the movie cease to walk the earth.
We enjoyed all five songs in the film but the tribal dance-song Aasaya Kaathula Thoodi Vittu is the one that gave us the most intense orgasm.
Fired our rocket straight into the stratosphere, this song.
Besides the infinite charm of its music, the picturization and dance too were decent in the Aasaya Kaathula Thoodi Vittu number.
Far too often, even pleasing Tamil songs are badly let down by the crude picturization.
And ever so frequently, graceless apes in human garb with monikers like Jyothika, Trisha and Nayantara make a mockery of the dance form.
Thank God in this instance, the picturization featuring a dance by Subhashini and others in a misty/smoky haze did justice to the music.
Subhashini, by the way, is the less-known sister of yesteryear famous Telugu actress and present-day Congress politician Jayasudha.
We don’t know about you philistines but we can’t get enough of Aasaya Kaathula Thoodi Vitta or the wide-eyed Subhashini (now the plump mother of failed starlet Pooja).
Enn Vanilae is almost as pleasing, except that it has no picturization worth speaking of.
Just Sridevi playing the piano, surrounded by flowers and Rajini listening raptly.
A hauntingly beautiful melody, Enn Vanilae is perhaps one of the finest works of Ilayaraja.
Here, give your ears a treat by clicking on the below image.
In any case, by spending time poring over the review of a three-decades-old Tamil movie you’ve already shown that you are an unproductive putzhead with lots of free time on your hands.
So what’s an extra three minutes! 😉
If you’re looking for a peppy number to rock your cojones, there’s the funny Senorita, I Love You…You Love Me.
This song features the Vidyasagar version of Rajinikanth and the sexy siren from Kerala Deepa aka Unni Mary.
Alas, the picturization is below par.
Johnny’s story is nothing to get too excited about.
We have two Rajinikanths.
The first Rajinikanth is a bespectacled, pipe-smoking barber Vidyasagar who works only by appointment.
The second is the film’s eponymous Johnny, a criminal given to robbing and duping people to settle his father’s debts.
We don’t know much about the backgrounds of the two key characters except that the second is the illegitimate son of a Zamindar (a village landlord).
Given Johnny’s criminal activities it’s not surprising that before long the police is after both Rajinikanths. The barber is under suspicion because the police is unaware, at least initially, that there are two people with similar looks.
Sridevi, who gained fame in the 70s and 80s and the sobriquet Ms.Thunder Thighs, for lavish display of her plump thighs to compensate for lack of looks or acting talent, plays Archana, a famous singer.
Whether Johnny is merely besotted with Archana’s mellifluous voice or the lady herself is not clear.
Deepa is cast opposite the barber and plays a poor maid.
Her character Bhama lends a comic touch by always aspiring for something better, be it sarees or men.
Suruli Rajan, the popular comedian of the 70s era Tamil films, is Johnny’s side-kick.
99.99% of Indian movies are male-centric and Johnny is no different.
One or the other Rajinikanth is always on the screen.
Unlike present-day Rajinikanth films where he’s often cast in super-hero roles to pander to his superstar image, both Rajinikanths in Johnny play down-to-earth characters.
Hell, the two Rajinikanths in Johnny are seen getting tired after running just a few hundred meters.
Au contraire, today’s Rajinikanth wouldn’t take an extra breath even after vanquishing an entire police force or the military (remember Enthiran?).
While he most certainly doesn’t set the screen on fire with his acting, Rajini is adequate in both roles.
Just when you thought the story is heading into boring territory, Mahendran provides a good twist jolting us.
Besides direction, Mahendran is also responsible for the dialogs and direction.
It’s a shame that Mahendran has been inactive for a long time, thereby allowing the rise of buffoons like A.R.Murugadoss, Venkat Prabhu and Korangusamy oops Linguswamy.
If you ask us, we found the barber Rajinikanth the more interesting of the two.
Frequent use of slow-motion photography to show Rajinikanth leaping and running betrays a lack of imagination and conveys very little of whatever was intended.
How is it that the two Rajinikanths look so similar. Except for his eyeglasses, hairstyle and mustache, the barber Vidyasagar looks the same as Johnny.
Unfortunately, Sridevi is covered up demurely all the time.
Not giving us even a short glimpse of her luscious ‘thunder-thighs’ was nothing short of treachery on Mahendran’s part.
Of well, at least we got to see her made-for-blowing mouth. 😉
Johnny – SI Recommendation
Deepa looks her sexciting best.
Apparently, the seductive babe is now into evangelical stuff after a decade of dick-raising work in Malayalam and Tamil films. Lucky Jesus!
North America’s best Indian blog SearchIndia.com recommends Johnny.
We bet our last Nickel you’ll be wowed by the music as much as we were.
You can stream Johnny for free on your big-screen TV via the BollyVerse channel on Roku.
Caveat: There are some issues with the picture quality. For about five minutes in the middle of the film, the screen went blank. God knows what we missed!
SI’s Other Tamil Movie Reviews:
Mullum Malarum – Rajini Could Act, Once