Johnny (1980 film)

Johnny is a 1980 Indian Tamil-language crime thriller film[3] written and directed by Mahendran. The film stars Rajinikanth, Sridevi and Deepa. Featuring Rajinikanth in a dual role, it revolves around the eponymous con artist who is implicated for a crime committed by Vidyasagar, a lookalike barber.

Johnny (1980).jpg
DVD cover
Directed byMahendran
Produced byV. Gopinathan
Written byMahendran
Music byIlaiyaraaja
CinematographyAshok Kumar[1]
Edited byA. Paul Duraisingham[2]
K. R. G Productions
Release date
  • 15 August 1980 (1980-08-15)
Running time
139 minutes[2]

Johnny was released on 15 August 1980. Though the film disappointed audiences in the first two weeks of its run because its title gave the impression of an action entertainer, it picked up in the third week and became a commercial success, running for over 100 days in theatres.


Johnny is a con artist who indulges in petty thefts with his friend, mainly to settle his father's debts. Johnny was born out of wedlock; his mother never got the recognition and dignity of a wife. His father becomes bankrupt, and though Johnny is upset on never getting recognised legally as a son, decides to help his father by clearing all his loans. Johnny, a diehard fan of singer Archana, never misses her concerts, which is also noticed by Archana. A romance develops between the two, but neither expresses it.

Vidyasagar, a parsimonious barber, lives with his assortment of pet animals in a bungalow away from the city. Once when he returns home after getting drunk and losing control, he is helped by Bhama, a homeless orphan. When Bhama requests him to employ her for domestic work, he relents. Bhama, slightly greedy and indecisive, always aspires for better things in life. However, her beauty and innocence makes Vidyasagar fall in love with her. He protects and cares for her and buys her new clothes.

Johnny cons a businessman, who files a police complaint. When he sees Vidyasagar at the salon, he mistakes him for Johnny and calls the police. The Commissioner investigates the case along with the Superintendent. Since Vidyasagar was in the barbershop when the theft took place, the Commissioner believes the thief is someone else. The police start hunting for Johnny and also monitor Vidyasagar. Johnny's friend visits the salon and mistakes Vidyasagar for Johnny. Upon realising Vidyasagar is another man, he brings Johnny to meet him. Johnny is surprised on seeing Vidyasagar.

Learning of the troubles Vidyasagar is facing because of his crimes, Johnny visits Vidyasagar and reveals himself as the real culprit. To prevent Vidyasagar from getting into issues with the police, Johnny tells him to remain home for 10 days so that he can resolve all the issues and come clean. Archana expresses her love for Johnny, but he hesitates to reciprocate due to his background. When Archana misunderstands his hesitation, thinking he is doubting her integrity and character, Johnny confesses his love and seeks time to settle a few things before marrying her. With the ill-earned money, Johnny settles all the loans and goes to meet his father, but is shocked when his father collapses after knowing his son settled his loans.

Vidyasagar notices Bhama with a rich man. When questioned, she says she shares a sibling-like relationship with him. Not wasting time, Vidyasagar proposes to her and assures he will take good care of her. However, Bhama looks down at his profession and feels it would be embarrassing for her children to be called a barber's children. Though hurt, Vidyasagar tries to explain things to her and also gives her time to decide. However, Bhama hurriedly tries to escape with the rich man at night. Vidyasagar stops and kills them both. The passersby notice this and call the police, who assume it to be the work of Johnny and go searching for him, for this case and also for other pending cases against him.

Johnny, already a fugitive, continues to hide from the police. He meets a tribal girl who gives him shelter in her colony. She falls for him but Johnny refuses and escapes into the nearby forest when the police come looking for him. Having killed Bhama and her lover, Vidyasagar also goes underground. Knowing well that his lookalike Johnny is wanted, he tries to foist the murder charge on him.

When Vidyasagar learns from Johnny's friend about Archana's love and her affluence, he decides to impersonate Johnny and goes to meet Archana at her house. On reaching there, he learns that she has shifted residence and he goes there (a modest house). When Archana explains that she compensated Johnny's victims by using up all her wealth, Vidyasagar gets disappointed to learn that she is no longer rich. Archana, hurt by "Johnny's" curtness, gets confused about his change in taste and behaviour. Though Vidyasagar had come with plans to win her and grab her wealth, her good character and love for Johnny stop him, and he finally confesses that he is not Johnny. He assures her that Johnny will be back soon and advises her to perform one last concert (which she had cancelled after Johnny got into trouble with police) so that Johnny will return. Archana organises her last concert with much publicity.

Johnny sees the advertisement and decides to attend the concert. On the scheduled day, heavy rains lash the city and a cyclone is forecast. No-one dares to come out of their homes. However, Archana insists and comes to the venue and sings. The police, knowing her closeness to Johnny, suspect something fishy in her decision and wait at the venue. Finally, Johnny arrives at the venue and is nabbed by the police. But he reveals to Archana that he is actually Vidyasagar posing as Johnny. Vidyasagar, claiming to be Johnny, accepts responsibility for all the frauds and murders and accompanies the police after declaring to Archana that Johnny is now free to live with her and wishes them well. Archana gets upset when the real Johnny does not turn up and leaves the venue. Just before she leaves, Johnny finally reaches, meets her and understands all that transpired. The lovers unite.



Mahendran had a strong desire to make a film with Rajinikanth at that time, hence he made this film simultaneously with Nenjathai Killathe. As the producer could not provide the equipment and facilities for the climax scene with a song, Mahendran was forced to use stock shots and manage to shoot with the limited facilities offered, but managed to mix the close-up shots with stock shot, and the scene came properly. This was the first time for which popular artist Jayaraj designed the costumes. He first drew the illustrations of scenes with costumes and then got them stitched, bringing in newness and style in Rajinikanth's look, which attracted the masses.[2]

The scene where Archana proposes to Johnny was shot in Ooty in a bungalow at midnight. When the scene was shot, the whole unit was silent, they saw only the characters of the film, not Rajinikanth and Sridevi. After the scene was shot, Rajinikanth appreciated Sridevi's acting and mentioned to Mahendran that though he tried, she overshadowed him in the scene.[2] Because Rajinikanth played two roles, he was billed twice in the opening credits, as "Rajinikanth and Rajinikanth".[4] To play Vidyasagar, Rajinikanth sported a centre-parted hairstyle and wore box-framed glasses.[5]


Kavitha Muralidharan of The Hindu wrote that most of Mahendran's films, including Johnny, "offer a prismatic view of relationships". She contrasted Johnny with Mahendran's earlier film Uthiripookkal (1979), saying that while that film's protagonist was "rigid in his relationship with people", the title character of Johnny is "as vulnerable as a woman could be".[6] Mani Prabhu of Cinema Express described Johnny as an antithesis to the "lead man of those times – the macho guy, surrounded by drooling girls, bashing up villains and spouting pretentious advice" by being "vulnerable, loving and grounded".[7]


The soundtrack was composed by Ilaiyaraaja.[8] The song "Oru Iniya Manathu" is erroneously credited to Jency on the original LP record marketed by Inreco,[9] but actually sung by Sujatha.[10] The song "Aasaiye Kaathule" is set in the Carnatic raga known as Sindhu Bhairavi,[11] and "Kaatril Enthan" is set in Keeravani.[12] "Aasaiye Kaathule" was reused twice in Telugu as "Naa Sari Sogasari" in Chakravyuham (1993) and as "Raathri" in Gundello Godari (2013).[13][14] It was also reused as "Sannata" in the Hindi film Shamitabh (2015).[15] The song was lifted by Anand–Milind as "Dil Mere Udaas" for Angrakshak (1995).[16] "Kaatril Endhan Geetham" was reused as "Naina Bole" in Aur Ek Prem Kahani (1996),[17] and the instrumental theme was sampled by Yuvan Shankar Raja for the theme of 7G Rainbow Colony (2004).[18]

1."En Vaanilay"KannadasanJency4:48
2."Kaatril Enthan"Gangai AmaranS. Janaki4:29
3."Aasaiye Kaathule"Gangai AmaranS. P. Sailaja4:40
4."Snow Reeta"Gangai AmaranS. P. Balasubrahmanyam4:21
5."Oru Iniya Manathu"Gangai AmaranSujatha4:21
6."Chasing Music" (instrumental) — —4:23

Release and receptionEdit

Johnny was released on 15 August 1980.[19][20] Piousji of the magazine Sunday wrote, "Sridevi not only looked smart, but came out with a convincing performance and [Rajinikanth] too was quite impressive" in Johnny.[3] Ananda Vikatan gave the film a C+ rating.[21] The title Johnny gave the impression of an action entertainer, hence it disappointed audiences in the first two weeks. However, the emotionally moving story, intense acting by Rajinikanth and Sridevi and songs attracted the audience, so the film picked up in the third week and became a success,[22] running for over 100 days in theatres.[23]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g ராம்ஜி, வி. (26 July 2018). "ஜானி – அப்பவே அப்படி கதை!". Kamadenu. Archived from the original on 25 March 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Dhananjayan 2011, p. 40.
  3. ^ a b Piousji (7 September 1980). "Khaas Baat". Sunday. p. 57.
  4. ^ Shivakumar, Vivek (11 December 2018). "A Superstar Career Through Titles". Film Companion. Archived from the original on 14 July 2019. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  5. ^ Shivakumar, Vivek (12 December 2019). "The many looks of Rajinikanth that impressed". Film Companion. Archived from the original on 7 February 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  6. ^ Muralidharan, Kavitha (10 August 2013). "Second coming?". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 14 August 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  7. ^ Prabhu, Mani (25 July 2019). "Director Mahendran 80th birth anniversary: The filmmaker who unearthed the actor in Rajinikanth". Cinema Express. Archived from the original on 21 March 2020. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  8. ^ "Johnny (1980)". Archived from the original on 30 October 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  9. ^ Ilaiyaraaja (1980). Jhonny / Nenjathai Killaathe (liner notes) (in Tamil). Inreco.
  10. ^ Ilaiyaraaja (1980). "Jhonny (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". Apple Music. Archived from the original on 15 September 2020. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  11. ^ Sundararaman 2007, p. 125.
  12. ^ Sundararaman 2007, p. 138.
  13. ^ "Ilayaraja's recycled hits". The Tamil Film Music Portal. 4 June 2001. Archived from the original on 21 February 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  14. ^ "Illayaraja remixes 'Aasaya Kaathula' in Maranthen Mannithen". IndiaGlitz. 30 October 2012. Archived from the original on 18 August 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  15. ^ Ghosh, Sankhayan (30 January 2015). "Shamitabh music review: Ilaiyaraaja's music makes it special". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 25 June 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  16. ^ Karthik (16 January 2015). "Shamitabh (Music review), Hindi – Ilayaraja". Milliblog. Archived from the original on 2 October 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  17. ^ Murali, Aarthi (14 May 2019). "The God Who Created New Tunes: Celebrating 43 Years of Ilaiyaraaja". Archived from the original on 11 December 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  18. ^ Srinivasan, Karthik. "Yuvan Shankar Raja [Tamil]". Itwofs. Archived from the original on 18 October 2019. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  19. ^ Mahendran 2013, p. 344.
  20. ^ "சூப்பர் ஸ்டார் ரஜினிகாந்த் வாழ்க்கை வரலாறு 27" [Superstar Rajinikanth's life history] (PDF). Uthayan (in Tamil). Canada. 30 January 2015. p. 48. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 June 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  21. ^ "ஜானி #VikatanReview". Ananda Vikatan. 14 September 1980. Retrieved 7 March 2020 – via Appappo.
  22. ^ Mahendran 2013, p. 233.
  23. ^ Dhananjayan 2011, p. 42.


  • Dhananjayan, G. (2011). The Best of Tamil Cinema, 1931 to 2010: 1977–2010. Galatta Media. ISBN 978-81-921043-0-0.
  • Mahendran (2013) [2004]. Cinemavum Naanum [Cinema and Me] (in Tamil). Karpagam Publications.
  • Sundararaman (2007) [2005]. Raga Chintamani: A Guide to Carnatic Ragas Through Tamil Film Music (2nd ed.). Chennai: Pichhamal Chintamani. OCLC 295034757.

External linksEdit