Johny Mera Naam (1970)

I finally had the requisite 3 spare hours it takes to get through a Hindi movie Monday evening, and it was time SO well spent! I love Vijay Anand’s movies, especially his captivatingly convoluted crime capers (including Teesri Manzil and Jewel Thief). And my undying devotion to Shammi notwithstanding, Dev Anand is particularly suited for the genre. This entertaining story about two brothers separated in childhood after the murder of their father features an absolutely stellar cast. One brother, Sohan (Dev Anand), grows up to become an undercover policeman, while the other, Mohan (Pran), becomes a criminal working unknowingly for the very man (Premnath) who ordered the murder of his father. As our story begins, Sohan is starting an undercover job working as a small-time thief and smuggler named Johny. He infiltrates the gang headed by Mohan (now called Moti) with the help of a beauty named Rekha (Hema Malini), who has her own motives for being part of the gang.

What follows is an engrossing tale with twists and turns, double-crosses, and multiple nefarious activities set against the breathtaking backdrop of Nepal. I can never resist Pran. He is in disguise heaven here, even for him:

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Luminously beautiful young Dream-Girl-to-be Hema and suavely debonair young-looking (although he must have been in his late 40’s by then) Dev fall in love while singing several wonderful songs (“O Meri Raja” and “Nafrat Karne Walon Ke” are my favorites):

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Kalyanji-Anandji’s music also includes a seriously sensuous number danced by gorgeous Padma Khanna—she is trying to save her lover’s life by seducing Premnath (at his gleefully bad—and bejewelled—best):

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She out-Mumtazes Mumtaz!

Sadly, the songs are not subtitled, at least on my DVD. I really really hate that. I know that I missed a lot of subtext because of it in this movie, particularly during a song that Rekha sings while her father listens from the room where he has been imprisoned.

But Vijay Anand keeps the action and suspense going, with a very satisfying reunion when the two brothers realize finally who the other one is. This is just a great scene which intercuts the movie’s opening sequence of the young brothers in a boxing match at school with the grown brothers fighting (Moti has discovered that Johny is a police officer). As the fight grows more intense, the brothers both begin flashing back to that match and the scene culminates with them yelling at each other just as they did in childhood.

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The moment where each stops and realizes that he has found his long-lost brother is classic Hindi cinema. I cried, of course.

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The climax of the film when they confront Premnath also has to be seen to be believed. The stories fly back and forth, with Premnath not knowing whom to believe as he is caught in the middle between the two brothers and other members of his gang who are accusing them of being traitors.

It’s dizzying! I have left out many of the great details in this film, including identical triplet brothers (Pehleram, Doojaram and Teejaram), some wrestling moves that would be at home in the WWF, an assortment of radios, and Iftekhar as—what else?—the Police Commissioner.

Vijay Anand’s work as a director includes a lot of my favorite movies: Nau Do Gyarah, Tere Ghar Ke Samne, Kala Bazaar, Guide, Black Mail, Ram Balram and Rajput…they are all too much fun. Run—don’t walk!—to your nearest DVD store. I’ll be right behind you trying to fill in the Vijay Anand gaps in my collection.

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21 Comments to “Johny Mera Naam (1970)”

  1. This is one of my favorite movies. I like it a lot better than Jewel Thief.

  2. Ooh, looks like I’ve commented on your blog before. That’s so funny! :)

  3. You came, you left a comment, and then you disappeared :-) I see from your blog that you live in Boston too!

  4. i like padma will u get more photo

  5. I really need to watch this again. It’s been so long I can hardly remember it. All I remember is that it was a Dev Anand movie that was fun to watch, unlike the bloated, dull and pretentious “I really am DEV” egofest that was “Guide”.

  6. Memsaab, indeed that song Hema Malini sings with her father imprisoned in the next room adds value to the story. She sings “that she has been searching for her beloved father for a long time” – from the words in her song, her father recognises her as his daughter and hence his pain in being separated from his family.

    I recently found a good DVD copy of Kasme Vaade and tuned on the sub titles for the song. The songs have been aptly sub titled in this version which is not always the case

  7. Thanks.

    Was curious to know the plot of the movie.. that brought me here.

    :-)

    And of course, my newborn has been nicknamed Johny!

  8. I just love this movie.. and also d song ‘ O mere raja’.. whr they both try 2 show as if they r a couple.. nd ‘ Palbhar ke liye (means ‘would anyone love me 4 a moment, even if its fake..) wit so many windows… both look yummy in d song!!

  9. all time fave seen it at least 20 times,trivia can u name the person who is the casino in charge of pran who says ::”I HAVE SEEN HIM(I.S JOHAR) with my own beautifull eyes,he is also the barman in countless movies also havaldar,beggar etc,was the night club steward in dharmatma who says “very good thing” to the girl dancing before dara singh comes and beats up ranjeet.

  10. Padma Khanna was toooooooooooooooooooooooo sexyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy in that song. and considering that it was picturised in early 70s, it needs a lot of daring.

  11. Agreed that Pran has an air that is difficult to resist and Padma Khanna whips up quite a performance in that dance. Otherwise, i found the story too confusing.

  12. I hated how Husn ke laakhon rungg was picturized. Really, Padma Khanna was badly used, ditto for Bindu. I saw this movie for the first time in Capitol Cinema and was utterly fascinated by how grand the theatre looked, on the inside, this in the early nineties. There was just a smattering of people watching and it only served to add to the `atmosphere’ within the theatre. Nafrat karenwaalon ke seene mein pyaar bhar doon – my favourite song. Hema looked gorgeous throughout!

  13. Nice review. I caught the last an hour or so of this movie (starting at the scene where Prem Nath squeezes Hema’s throat) on TV today. And of course I came here googling “Johny Mera Naam + memsaabstory”. Prem Nath had given a truly awesome performance.

  14. This was the movie which truly elevated Hema to a dreamgirl status for me. She was just delectable in this, Utterly ravishing in three songs – O Mere Raja, Pal Bhar Ke Liye & Nafrat Karne Waalon Ke Seene Mein. This is my favourite Hema movie.

    The ode to father – O Babul Pyaare – is heart-wrenching. The long aalap after ‘Pyaare’ is like a ‘nashtar’ (dagger) to your heart. A relatively sedate choreography (in keeping with the theme and situation of the song) is so appropriate. I think by now you can tell that this is one of my fave songs :-)

  15. This movie made me a fan of Dev Anand. Even till date I consider him the best. I was only eleven years old then. I have seen it more than 20 times and always loved it.

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