JOHNNY GADDAAR is a caper thriller 'mantra' - Sriram Raghavan
On being asked what struck him most about the film's leading man Neil Mukesh, he replies, "By sheer chance, I saw his screen test done by Anurag Kashyap. And thought he had good screen presence. He could be vulnerable and edgy at the same time."
On prodded further if a star would be born in the form of Neil after the film?s release, he comments (in a lighter vein), "Neil is not my cousin or brother so it?s not that we are trying to launch a star. I chose him because he suited the part. He?s playing a complex character and I think he?s pretty good. There is both confidence and honesty in the performance."
Coming to the choice of actors; Dharmendra, Neil, Rimmi, Vinay comes across as a unique combination. How did he think of getting such an ensemble cast in?
"My dream actor whilst writing the script was Dharamji for an important role. I was not sure if he would agree but he did. It was pure heaven working with him. Once we short-listed Neil, then we just looked around for interesting fresh actors, irrespective of any other calculations. Zakir had done a very brief role in EK HASEENA THI. Vinay Pathak just loved the step outline I gave him and was on. Rimmi is a terrific actress who?s strangely slotted in comedic roles", he explains.
When it comes to Dharmendra, it is sacrilege if one uses him scantly in a film. Has he done justice to his presence in the film?
"I really hope so", he says, "It?s not a huge role but it?s significant. I?ve grown up on his movies. Everyone knows 'Sholay' and 'Chupke Chupke', but there are so many other movies. 'Naya Zamana', 'Mera Gaon Mera Desh'; I remember both were golden jubilees running in adjacent halls in Poona."
He further questions, "Why doesn?t he get roles like Sean Connery and Morgan Freeman do? His performance in APNE just blew me. In JOHNNY GADDAAR, he?s playing a semi retired 70s style smuggler who?s both tough and soft. A gentleman crook I must say."
Is Rimmi anything more than a glamour quotient in the film?
"She's not making coy faces and singing songs here", he smiles, "It's an ensemble film so everyone who is there has a vital role in the story. She'll surprise you in the film."
When Vinay Pathak was signed on, he was 'just' Vinay Pathak. Today he is the most loved idiot on this side of the planet. Would audience have enough of him in JOHNNY GADDAAR?
"I love Vinay", he says fondly, "And yes there is a lot of him in the movie. He's an asset both as an actor and a bouncing board for the script."
JOHNNY GADDAAR promises to be a film where there is no room for unwanted love songs, no 'rona-dhona', no side comedy tracks and absolutely no beating around the bush - In short a 'mantra' which any and every caper thriller is required to follow. If initial indications are anything to go by, film maker Sriram Raghavan seems to have ensured all of that and much for his second directorial venture - JOHNNY GADDAR which releases today!
As the first show commences today, one would get an answer if the high expectations do meet!