Friday, September 28, 2007

Raghavan's reservoir

Never thought I’d be linking to a article, but here’s an interesting slideshow with director Sriram Raghavan discussing the films that he cites as influences for his latest, Johnny Gaddaar. There’s already been some speculation that Johnny Gaddaar is “inspired” by Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (or by Sanjay Gupta’s Kaante, which in turn was “inspired” by the Tarantino) - but this slideshow suggests that Raghavan’s influences are much more wide-ranging. They include Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing, John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle, the Coen Brothers’ superb Blood Simple, Vijay Anand’s Johnny Mera Naam (which he describes as “a movie that gives me multiple orgasms” - take another bow, Devsaab) and a few solid French films. (I love that he refers to Jean Gabin as “the Dharmendra of France”!) He doesn’t mention Nicholas Ray’s Johnny Guitar, but his film’s title sounds like a nod at the cult Western.

From what I know of Raghavan, he's another of the young lot of Hindi film directors (Vishal Bhardwaj and Farhan Akhtar being among the others) who know their cinema very well, have an enormous collection of DVDs of films from around the world, and who are genuinely catholic in their tastes. None of this will automatically make Johnny Gaddaar a good film - for all I know, it could turn out to be a confused mess - but it’s a welcome sign that a young director can unselfconsciously discuss Huston and Vijay Anand, or Teesri Manzil and Bob Le Flambeur in the same breath, instead of being restricted by a specific cinematic idiom.

(I’m watching Johnny Gaddaar this evening. More on it later.)


  1. Jai , while I agree with Vishal Bharadwaj being a director well versed with world cinema , the mention of Farhan Akhtar rings a jarring tone. The kind of cinema this 'Sapoot' of Javed Akhtar has so far made is mediocre at best."Dil Chahta hai" that Kitsch favourite depicting demented youngsters did not go down well with me at least. "lakshya was Ok but again had its average moments."
    The less said about the Farcical 'Don' the better. If you had mentioned someone like Anurag Kashyap with Bharadwaj it would have sounded better. Being Javed Akthar's son has bestowed some uncalled for glory on his son. I don't mean to be critical here but the son is going down his father's steps by making mediocre films just like his pretentious and sacchrine sweet father passes off mediocre prose as poetry. Anyway sorry! never meant to be offensive but i feel that the Akhtar family has been definitely overhyped much like their cricketing namesake from across the border.

  2. when raghavan talks about grisbi, be says, 'wonder whether the pressure of 14 shows a day, impatient multiplex audiences, weekend collections and such things will inhibit a filmmaker of today to even attempt such pace and mood.' and he has a point. i was amazed at the number of people who found manorama slow. ok, it has its weak points, but it's a well-paced film, not leisurely by any means; just differently paced. so much for multiplex audiences. really.

  3. It is good sign.. he is at least claiming inspiration from a whole genre, that of caper films, rather than any one specific film. the only problem is when people start copying scene by scene and leave the style and atmosphere and the soul of the film behind.

    I have always wanted to see johnny guitar... it is one of godard's favourite american films.

  4. Wow, Sriram Raghavan really knows his movies. I love heist movies, & he has called out all my favorites. The French really made the best ones starting from the mid 50s. Bob Le Flambeur & Rififi got re-released in the US a few years back, & it was awesome watching them on the big screen. Back in the late 90s, Alliance Francaise had an Alain Delon retro at Siri Fort. They showed Any Number Can Win, Le Samourai & Purple Noon (much better than Minghella’s remake). ANCW had a lovely sequence on the roof of a casino. I will be happy to lend Raghavan my DVD of Purple Noon  I remember vividly the lady at AF distributing passes for this series. When I went to collect mine she looked at me very forbiddingly & icily told me the movies were all in French. Doh!

    Gabin & Dharmendra? They definitely have a physical resemblance, but Gabin is known today more as a character actor (despite Pepe Le Moko, La Bete Humaine & Grande Illusion) than the man’s man that Garam Dharam was in his filmi persona.

    I didn’t much care for Ek Hasina Thi, except for the title song. But I am waiting eagerly for Jabberwock’s review of Johnny Gaddar. And yes, it does alliterate with Johnny Guitar. It even had Sterling Hayden, whose movies Asphalt Jungle & The Killing Raghavan cites :-)

    (posted this comment this morning but it never came up)

  5. Being a Raghvan, Bharadwaj and Kashyap admirer myself, I too couldn't help but be startled by the use of Bharadwaj and Farhan A.'s name in the same sentence. I agree with a previous poster, Shwet Awasthi, about Farhan Akhtar being over-rated and the knowledge of films being, well, film. I don't think he's gone beyoned the traditional Hollywood and his knowledge of classic masters like Akira Kurasowa seems shallow and affected even to someone like me who just knows Kurasowa as a world-reknowned and much revered director. My own introduction to Kurosawa's works is non existent though I hope I can rectify that at some point.