Sunday, September 30, 2012

Banksy on advertising

“People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs."

This is a letter written in response to the Banksy by advertising professional Craig Ward who blogs here

Dear  Banksy,

I read your recent open letter regarding ‘The Advertisers’ and I have to say I didn’t much like your tone, particularly coming from one of the art world’s greatest marketers since possibly Warhol.

Allow me to say from the offset that I don’t much care for the advertising industry as a whole either, though having worked at several agencies in my career (as a typographer), I’ve done OK out of it. I live in New York these days but when I lived in London I used to see your work all the time. I didn’t ask to see it – in much the same way as you don’t ask to see advertising – and I never much cared for it either. A lot of my friends did though, and several of them now own your prints, books and in a couple of cases, original works.

I should probably mention that, without exception, all of those people work in advertising.
Now, as far as I see it, the very act of putting your work in the public eye – say on walls, street corners, in alleyways and underpasses etc – is, effectively advertising it by virtue of people being able to see it at all. Exposure is advertising.  And unless I’m much mistaken, the only product you’re selling is yourself.

The last time I checked, The Advertisers at least had to pay a lot of money to use the public spaces that their wares occupy – unlike yourself who has decided to remove yourself from that model in the name of art and anti capitalism.

Another criticism often leveled at advertising is that it steals from artists and plagiarises ideas, where as your work is merely ‘inspired’ by one artist; Blek Le Rat. Which I guess is OK. And the fact that you’ve made a comfortable living from it is also fine. I feel like it’s a convenient irony though that the only people who can now afford to own your work are the ad-land Creative Directors and City boys that you so eagerly rail against, while at the same time selling your own brand of rebellious, anti-establishment cool.

If the Advertisers are laughing at us, then you are surely laughing with them.It’s all just so easy isn’t it? Big companies are evil; advertising sells stuff for big companies; ergo, the people who work in advertising are also evil. I think Bill Hicks had a similar thing going a few years ago. No, wait I’m sorry, exactly the same thing going.

As a child of the 80′s I grew up surrounded by cigarette advertising, yet I’ve never bought a pack in my life. I’ve seen car ads every day for 30 years and I’ve never bought one of those either. That’s as much as I can say about myself, but it’s clear to me that you’re ignoring the fact that people have a choice in what they buy – if they buy anything at all – and that they actually like buying things. They work hard for a living and purchasing something other than basic food, utilities or clothing gives them a sense of achievement; that their hard work has paid off in some capacity.

When I first read your letter I thought you were going to mount some stenciled horse and storm the castles of advertising with a well formed argument, but instead it seems like you were just inciting people to steal and vandalise ads that they saw on the street. Personally, I don’t have the time or inclination.

Regarding ‘the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen’ that you mention, you must be referring to the office fax machine? Having seen agency life, I can attest that there’s nothing Machiavellian going on; no illuminated map of the globe and no sinister plot to take over the world; just a bunch of people trying to make a living.

As it stands, there are only 1.2 billion formal jobs in the world for the 7 billion people that live on it. If advertising keeps a few thousand off the streets then let it be, eh? People who work in advertising are good enough to buy your work, so why not buy some of what they’re selling from time to time?
Kind regards and good luck in your future ventures.

Craig Ward
Now we have had the fun of reading the rant and its reaction. You are free to support who you want. Nonetheless, some brands like Ikea have actually gone on and used Banksy style of graffiti to promote themselves, just as Banksy has used say McDonald’s or Col. Sanders of KFC.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Emmys 2012 winners

Winners at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards:

Drama Series: Homeland
Comedy Series: Modern Family
Miniseries or Movie: Game Change
Variety, Comedy or Musical Series: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Reality-Competition Program: The Amazing Race
Host, Reality or Reality-Competition Program: Tom Bergeron, Dancing With the Stars

Supporting Actor, Comedy: Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Supporting Actress, Comedy: Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Guest Actor, Comedy: Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live
Guest Actress, Comedy: Kathy Bates, Two and a Half Men
Lead Actor, Comedy: Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Lead Actress, Comedy: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Supporting Actor, Drama: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Supporting Actress, Drama: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Guest Actress, Drama: Martha Plimpton, The Good Wife
Guest Actor, Drama: Jeremy Davies, Justified
Lead Actor, Drama: Damian Lewis, Homeland
Lead Actress, Drama: Claire Danes, Homeland
Supporting Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Tom Berenger, Hatfields & McCoys
Lead Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Julianne Moore, Game Change
Lead Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys

Writing, Comedy: Louis C.K., Louie
Writing, Drama: Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff, Homeland
Writing, Variety, Music or Comedy Special: Louis C.K., Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre
Writing, Miniseries or Movie: Danny Strong, Game Chan

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dogme 95

For the Dogme 95 film-makers, the film text can get close to some sort of social and political truth but to do so must avoid all the artificial techniques employed by much of mainstream cinema. The Dogme quest is for an authentic cinema in an entertainment landscape made up of artifice. Their Vow of Chastity implies that the least amount of technological intervention in the film-making process makes for a more honest, realistic aesthetic.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dongri to Dubai

S.Hussain Zaidi’s Dongri to Dubai is a gripping read. This however, is not a review. You can read two of the better reviews of Dongri to Dubai here and here. The book is exhaustive and informative, immaculately researched and put together. Not in the form of a dossier but in a fairly dramatic narrative sequence. The story is about how a boy from Dongri became a don in Dubai.It captures his bravado, cunningness, focus, ambition, lust for power, and in doing so; it is chronicling the history of the Bombay underworld.

The book is information laden and as you read, you realise that  building an empire like D-Company is not a mean feat that Dawood has achieved. Not for nothing is he figured in the 50 most influential people in the world. He has successfully out manoeuvred his rivals till now with tacit and explicit support from various powers to be makes interesting revelations about the system in India. Dawood has played the system to his gains like a sly fox.

Instead of putting out an excerpt, i have put down some of the information that you would happen to come across if you go through the book.

  • Haji Mastan alias Mastan Haider Mirza hails from Cuddalore, Tamilnadu, and he initially made it big in smuggling by being the blue-eyed-boy at the Bombay docks of Sheikh Mohammed al Ghalib, an Arab trading in Dubai and Eden.
  • Mani Ratnam’s Nayakan (1987) starring Kamal Hasan and Vinod Khanna starrer Dayavan (1988), its Hindi remake, is based on another don from south –Varadarajan Mudaliar. Mudaliar's mainly operated in illicit liquor trade.
  • Ibrahim Kaskar, Dawood’s dad is from Ratnagiri, Maharashtra and as Head Constable of Bombay Police held considerable clout. A devout pious man, Ibrahim Kaskar was respected for his honesty and integrity by peers and dons alike.
  • Before he made D-company, he as an upcoming gangster headed the Young Party which was front for extortion when not celebrating Eid-e-milad and Eid-ul-fitr with gusto.
  • Manya Surve shot Dawood’s elder brother Sabir Ibrahim Kaskar. Manya Surve was shot down by the Bombay police in its first ever encounter. Shootout at Wadala (2013) is an upcoming film in which the dreaded gangster Surve, an ardent James Hadley Chase fan is played by John Abraham.
  • D-company mastered the art of smuggling cargo, gold and silver via the porous west coast of India into small port towns of Raigad, Alibaug and used the fishermen to execute their landing.
  • Bada Rajan alias Rajan Nair used to steal typewriters and sell them off at Chor Bazaar, Mutton Street, while Chota Rajan alias Rajendra Nikhalje was a black marketer at Sahakar Cinema, Chembur. Chota Rajan rose through the ranks to be Dawood’s protégé and after a dramatic fallout, his bête noire and a man constantly on the run.
  • The first time Dawood Ibrahim was arrested for smuggling was in 1982 under COFEPOSA , (Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Act) of the Customs Act.
  • He fled Bombay to Dubai after the police got him on the wanted list for the murder of another Pathan mafia goon Samad Khan. Dawood, Ali Antulay, Chhota Rajan had killed him by spraying bullets at him in an elevator on Oct 4, 1984.
  • Dawood Ibrahim actually made his company cosmopolitan and recruited people without any religious bias. Infact he is hardly a practising Muslim. It is a hatred filled Tiger Memon who has masterminded and orchestrated the Bombay Serial Blasts in 1993.
  • According to some, Dawood suggested Tiger Memon’s name to ISI, so that Memom gets entangled with the law and abandon his flourishing smuggling business. Dawood and Memon were cordial but Dawood never entertains a rival. If this anecdote is true, it was indeed a masterstroke as Memon fled India never to return.

Today, the Indian governments’ D Dossier identifies Dawood Ibrahim no longer as just an underworld don, but a shipping magnate, media baron, drug trafficker, arms trafficker, and the CEO of a huge corporate called D-Company, all rolled into one.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Midnight in Paris Quotes

Gil: Because this is unbelievable..there is no city like this in the world.
Inez: You are in love with a fantasy.
Gil: I’m in love with you.

Adriana: Tell me more about your book.
Gil: My book is kind of a .. you know what, i couldn’t care less about my book tonight. I just want to walk around Paris with you.

Gil: You know, sometimes i think, how is anyone ever gonna come up with a book, or a painting, or a symphony, or a sculpture that can compete with a great city. You can’t.

John: Certainly they have been no friends of the United States
Gil: Well i mean you can’t exactly blame them for not following us down that rabbit holes in Iraq with the whole bush you know.

Gil: By the way it is fine for me and your father to disagree. That’s what a democracy is. Your father defends the right wing of the Republican Party and i happen to think that you almost have to be a demented lunatic to be so. It doesn’t mean that we don’t respect each other’s views, am i right?  

Adriana: I keep forgetting that you are a tourist.
Gil: That is putting it mildly.

Paul : Sex and alcohol..fuels the desire, kills the performance, according to the Bard.

Gil: That’s what present is. It’s a little unsatisfying because life is unsatisfying.
Ernest Hemingway: No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest and it affirms courage and grace under pressure.

Gil: I am jealous and I’m trusting. It’s cognitive dissonance. F.Scott Fitzgerald talked about it.

Ernest Hemingway: Picasso only thinks that women are to sleep with, or to paint.

Ernest Hemingway: you’ll never be a great writer if you fear dying, do you?
Gil: Yeah, i do. I would say it’s my greatest fear.

Adriana: I’m from the ‘20s and i am telling you the golden age is la Belle Epoque.

Gil: I would like you to read my novel and get your opinion.
Ernest Hemingway: I hate it.
Gil: You haven’t even read it yet.
Ernest Hemingway: If it’s bad, i’ll hate it. If it’s good, then i’ll be envious and hate it even more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.

Gil: 500 Francs for a Matisse? That seems fair! So, can i get 6 or 7 ?

Gil: You two have the same names as ..
Scott F.Fitzgerald: As what ?
Gil: Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald
Scott F. Fitzgerald: Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, the Fitzgeralds. Isn’t she beautiful?
Gil: Yes, yes..its a coincidence its a ...
Zelda Fitzgerald: You have a glazed look in your eyes, stunned, stupefied, anaesthetised, lobotomised.

Gil : I am having trouble (completing my book) because i’m a Hollywood hack who never gave real literature a shot..until now.

Gil: you know, i think better in the shower, get all those positive ions flowing.

Ernest Hemingway: All men fear death. It’s a natural fear that consumes all. We fear death because we feel that we haven’t loved well enough or loved at all, which ultimately are one and the same.  However, when you make love with a truly great woman, one that deserves the utmost respect in this world and one that makes you feel truly powerful, that fear of death completely disappears. Because when you are sharing your body and heart with a great woman the world fades away. You two are the only ones in the entire universe. You conquer what lesser men have never conquered before, you have conquered a great woman’s heart, the most vulnerable thing she can offer to another .Death no longer lingers in the mind. Fear no longer clouds your heart. Only passion for living, and for loving, become your sole reality. This is no easy task for it takes insurmountable courage. But remember this, for that moment when you are making love with a woman of true greatness, you will fell immortal.

Ernest Hemingway: It was a good book because it was an honest book, and that’s what war does to men. And there’s nothing fine and noble about dying in the mud unless you die gracefully. And then it’s not only noble but brave.

Ernest Hemingway: If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.

Gertrude Stein:Everybody knows if you are too careful you are so occupied in being careful that you are sure to stumble over something.

F.Scott Fitzgerald: Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind. 

Zelda Fitzgerald: Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold. 
Gil: You look around and every street, every boulevard, is its own special art form and when you think that in the cold, violent, meaningless universe that Paris exits, these lights, I mean come on, there’s nothing happening on Jupiter or Neptune, but from way out in space you can see these lights, the cafe, people drinking and singing. For all you know, Paris is the hottest spot in the universe.

Ernest Hemingway:If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.

Adriana: That Paris exists and anyone could chose to live anywhere else in the will always be a mystery to me. 

Gertrude Stein: The artist’s greatest job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence. You have a clear and lovely voice. Don’t be such a defeatist.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fans & following: EPL

The English Premier League has started its fresh season. With new season come new fans. Because they have decided to follow the game, they have to choose a club to support. Fans mostly are armchair experts fooling themselves to believe that their vociferous ‘support’ from Hill Road, Brigade Road, Salt Lake or GK-II in anyway makes a shard of a difference to the proceedings in England. It doesn’t. Yet they choose. For all the fellow collegians are choosing and all the office employees are too. Besides, girls respect a football follower more. Every boy and his uncle knows that.

The game run by BCCI Mafioso is too mainstream and to show that you are in a different league, club football especially EPL is the way to go. In doing that, people end up making the wrong choices. Then again, the reason to choose maybe varied– say your crush on a star player or that your arch enemy supports club A so you end up with Z or that you follow that your group does. Doesn’t matter, you can do a switch to the opposite camp and no one will call you fucking Van Persie. Maybe this list will help in going through the options.

Arsenal is an underachiever, at the same time the club is an over-achiever. The sort of team that just guarantees to give you heartburns with their unpredictability, as they oscillate between prodigious brilliance and school boy faux pas. The Invincibles of 2003-04 have long gone. Each year they built something and see their players lured by deep pocket clubs. It is as easy as luring kids with candy. You can’t win the league with a bunch of kids, except if the kids are Manchester United’s Class of 92’.And Sir Wenger, O Professor, you don't win anything for financial fairplay and non abuse of capital. In Arsène you trust, in Arsène you will rust. So will the trophy cabinet.

Chelsea, masters of parking the bus. Or in John Terry’s case barking racial slurs. Yes, finally they are Champions of Europe.. but wait till they crash out of Champions League or play against Barça, whichever comes earlier. Like a rich playboy who doesn’t settle for one glam girlfriend, Chelsea doesn’t settle for the best of coaches. How else would you let José Mourinho, Gus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti go? Their game is not visually attractive, and they are not even the best club in London, leave alone England or Europe. And one more thing, they aren’t the richer club in the deviously, sinisterly labeled El Cashico game vs Manchester City. A legacy of financial profligacy – Roman Abramovich and Stamford Bridge. Some one make him watch Moneyball.

 White Hart Lane is a breeder park for bigger clubs. A bed and breakfast inn until you find a cozy apartment. Quite similar to their North London neighbours Arsenal, they play with visual flair only to end up as unlucky losers. I digress. The important question is – how long are Gareth Bale and Scott Parker staying? Shall we ask manager André Villas-Boas? What i learned from Titanic is that rats jump a sinking ship and try to find a Parisian bakery. Seriously, Tottenham and Arsenal have much in common. It’s just that they have been perennially warring siblings…alright cousins…alright neighbours who can’t see the other succeed.

June 08’was a time when the crude oil prices hit $140 dollars/barrel. It was also a time when you could fill the entire of Manchester City supporters in a single Etihad flight. Then came Sheikh Mansour to build the most expensive collection of horrendous looking players you can find- Lescott, Tevez, Balotelli, Zabaleta and the works. City fans in India should not complain about an oil price hike, if they have some moral fiber, because that is what finances their ‘great’ club that has won a grand total of 2 EPL titles in 44 years. Naturally, there has been a sudden sprouting in City fan base and they can give United fans a run for their money in terms of being obnoxious weeds. City have stolen the Poznań and have ruined a song like Hey Jude. It’s true, what they say - petrodollars can’t buy you class.

Liverpool. You can’t say I support them because they win. And they are not even underdogs, you can root for. Liverpool are just have beens who only occasionally really show up for their big games. They play to cancel other team’s advantage and not to maximize their own. When they can’t, they wail and moan. Even Sir Matt Busby would be tired of this bunch who still live in the 80s when a pint was much cheaper and they were still at the fecking perch that Fergie knocked them off. Honestly if you want to pick a team from Merseyside Liverpool, pick Everton. David Moyes is one good guy. 

 Manchester United has a philosophy of intimidating referees unless he goes by the name of Howard Webb. United is not a bad club, they try and try and try until they have the injury time goal- by hook or crook or sinker. You want to irk them, just say Paul Scholes is not the greatest midfielder of his generation. They have a youth program, they use home grown talent, have financial strength and a decorated recent past. But the fans are snooty and give the club a bad name. You will seldom find a United fan who will not be a jerk. Most have never kicked a football farther than 50 yards but would still buy overpriced official jersey that looks like a table cloth. The original Glory hunters whose tweets end with #GGMU.

And remember,anybody can beat anybody in EPL. It is just that sort of a league, just look at last season’s circle of results.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Citius Altius Fortius

Liu Xiang fell; clutching his heels and then gave us an Olympic moment to cherish.
With the cleanest, smoothest hurdling action, Liu Xiang was back in form. He had won recent Diamond League races and was back to his personal best. He was back to get the gold medal he won at the 2004 Olympics in 110m hurdles. 
This was the event that he had worked towards since the injury plagued him down. This meant a lot to him.  These were the heats to qualify for the finals. He was the crowd favourite.
Then the race started.Liu’s Achilles, the same injury that had robbed him of the 2008 games, had been aggravated again.He fell at the first hurdle.
His frustration was palpable.
 He even struggled to get up.
He finally got up, and hopped towards the exit tunnel, ignoring the offered wheel chair.It would have been crushingly disappointing for him, for he still is a great hurdler.  
London looked like it would end with a bitter taste. But then, he stopped.
And he turned around and he re-entered the track to a stadium-shaking ovation, and finished the 110 meters.
Stopping to kiss the final hurdle.
As soon as he crossed the finish line, his fellow athletes embraced him and helped him. And just like that Liu Xiang’s tragic day became what is surely one of the most enduring moments of the 2012 London Games.Tagged with his breakthrough gold medal run at Athens, Xiang now has two true inspirational Olympian moments – one of sweet success and another of spirit triumphing over tragedy.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Johnny Gaddar Film Noir

Johnny Gaddar (2007)
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the film, stop reading right about now.

Johnny Gaddar pays reverential homage to the film noir genre of film making. Film noir ‘dark film’ is a term first applied by French critics to describe a type of American film, usually in the detective or thriller genres. Johnny Gaddar tributes both the original Hollywood film noir films and the Indian film noir that was inspired by it in late 1960s and early 1970s.The pre-credit sequence introduces the noir-aesthetics  that characterises the film as the grey tones combined with the rain and darkness create the stifling suspense that is interrupted only by the red colour of the blood spilled. 
Immediately after the action cuts to the title sequence montage that cements the film’s genre and sensibilities. Established noir traits of low-key lighting and somber mood that emphasise on cynicism, greed and sexual motivations are explored further into the film’s running time.The film’s opening credits montage establishes its key intertextual sources of inspiration as well as tribute- Jyoti Swaroop’s Parwana (1971) starring Amitabh Bachchan , Vijay Anand’s Johny Mera Naam (1970) and James Hadley Chase’s novel The Whiff of Money .
The montage is made of selectively included snippets of scenes that come later on as the film progresses. The credits have been done in the style (colour, font and music) of a 1970s crime thriller from India. Director Sriram Raghavan has admitted to toying with the idea of shooting the entire film in black-and-white, keeping in with the noir atmospherics of the film. The black-and-white treatment was let go in favour of colour; however red palette is pre-dominant in the frames. The red standing for danger, suspense and thrill.
Vikram (alias Johnny) gets ideas of how to implement his double-cross from Johny Mera Naam and Parwana. Parwana supplies him with an alibi and Johny Mera Naam gave him the alias. The allusions and inspirations in Johnny Gaddar are accompanied by irony as both the films are rather innocent and relatively naïve vintage crime thrillers that Vikram watches on TV. Johny Mera Naam is playing in the hotel lobby when he is checking in while making his detour to Pune enroute to Goa. Inspired by the film, he checks-in under the name Johnny G. The irony is that the character whose name (alias) he adopts is infact, a law abiding police officer in the original film. Furthermore, both are love stories with redemption and explanation to amoral acts in the end. Whereas in Johnny Gaddar, the moral delineation is not smoothened by the redemptive feature. Crime here is a personal choice not a social one forced by circumstances. This is apparent in the coin toss scene .He flips the coin at the juncture from where there is no return. Vikram wants to convince himself that it is his fate to get the whole booty. When the coin toss doesn’t fall in his favour, he opts for a best-of-three and when the second toss also is unfavourable, he opts for a best-of-five.
Seshadri, Vikram, Shiva, Shardul and Prakash are the five partners in the gambling club. The partners also deal with other underhand operations, one of which forms the storyline in the film. Shardul in his frustration calls his wife Mini a Rajshri film wife, thereby calling her as sexually frigid and insipid. Vikram’s motive is to flee with Mini after a carefully orchestrated, well thought-out plan by which he can steal the money and no one ends up dying .The eventual turn of events is unexpected as the body count keeps on rising. When he does end up with the money in his water tank safely rolled up in plastic bags, he lies to Mini feigning ignorance of the money or the murders. Despite that, one kind of sides with Vikram, if only slightly to see if he can really pull this sleight off. For he is one amongst us- young, urban and suave. There is the theme of urban discontent and the power of money to change motives and morality which The Whiff of Money alludes to .He has in the words of Seshadri, chosen a dark path.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Johnny Gaddar Film Noir II

By committing the murder on a train just after Lonavla station was crossed, he is able to alight at a designated station (Pune) and return to his place of business (Goa) without arousing suspicion - a sequence which echoes the chain of events in Parwana.The murder on train to claim money is a reminder of Hollywood noir classic Double Indemnity (1944) in which insurance money will be doubled while here Vikram would pocket five times his return (5 million to 25 million rupees) .The film has a rich presence of intertextuality in its music, dialogues and it is self-reflexive in portraying that. There are certain other popular culture references, for instance, in a bus sequence Mini (Rimi Sen) is reading R.K.Narayan 's Guide which was adapted to a famous film in the 1960s and Vikram is reading The Whiff of Money in the train (before killing for money).There’s a fleeting glimpse of the book ‘The life and crimes of Charles Shobhraj’s when Inspector Kalyan is questioning the Vikram, Shardul and Prakash about the murders of Shiva and Sheshadri.

Notable attempt at making a nostalgic resonance of 1970s is done via the casting of yesteryear actor Dharmendra as Seshadri (Vikram’s mentor) as the lead partner of the club and the revelation of his own trade of smuggling watches as he reminisces his dead wife. Added to that, Seshadri listens to an old Hindi song ‘Mora Gora Ang’ cover sung by his wife (from Bimal Roy’s Bandini, 1963 originally sung by Lata Mangeshkar) from an audio cassette in a boom-box. There are a couple of lines from old Hindi songs from Jugnu (1973), Yakeen (1969), Aadmi aur Insaan (1969). The songs from Jugnu and Yakeen are ‘Rama Rama Ghazab’and ‘Bachke Kahan Jaoge respectively. Dharmendra acted in Bandini, Jugnu ,Yakeen and Aadmi aur Insaan .Besides, these song snippets bring in the self referential angle to the film, a feature that is identified as a film noir aesthetic . Again as a feature of indies, these songs are not lip-synced, but are being played in the background in a discotheque. There is a soundtrack mix referring to the nursery rhyme ‘Johnny Johnny Yes Papa’, nailing the liar and cheat part of the rhyme.

There are three instances where Hollywood films’ presence is observed. In the same afore-mentioned cassette, Seshadri’s wife asks him to take her to see Dr. No (1962) in Regal theatre in Bombay. While counting the 25 million rupees, Seshadri mentions that a similar scene was there in the film Scarface (1983) which is a remake and tribute to Howard Hawks’original crime-thriller Scarface (1932). Shiva (another club partner) is watching Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999) when he gets a call from Shardul (Mini’s husband). While talking of tributes, it would be an ideal time to mention the Hitchcockian device of MacGuffin used in the film. 

The MacGuffin used in Johnny Gaddar is ‘French Furniture’ which may or may not be drugs. MacGuffin is a term for a motivating element in astory that is used to drive the plot. It serves no further purpose. It won’t pop up again later, it won’t explain the ending, it won’t actually do anything except possibly distract us while we try to figure out its significance. In some cases, like in Johnny Gaddar, it won’t even be shown. It is a mysterious package or artefact that everyone in the story is interested in. Seshadri is immediately willing to grab hold of the French Furniture MacGuffin that his old friend Inspector Kalyan offers him from Bangalore.

The suspense in the film is not who has committed the murder. Like the best of crimes, it missed the perfection it sought to achieve. The audience knows who the culprit is.The suspense is what is the next scene going to be, and this makes it decidedly different from commercial Hindi films. The use of vernacular languages in Marathi, Tamil and Telugu brings the polyglot nature and layer of multi-culturalism. Johnny Gaddar is an original script with knowing nods to masters of the genre with a global touch and Indian texture to it.