Johnny (1980 film)

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Johnny dvd.jpg
LP Vinyl Records Cover
Directed byJ. Mahendran
Produced byV. Gopinathan
Written byJ. Mahendran
Deepa Unnimary
Prabhakar Reddy
Music byIlaiyaraaja
CinematographyAshok Kumar
Edited byA. Paul Duraisingh
Distributed byK. R. G Productions
Release date
  • 15 August 1980 (1980-08-15)
Running time
140 minutes

Johnny is a 1980 Indian Tamil-language musical drama film, written and directed by J. Mahendran. The film stars Rajinikanth and Sridevi in the lead roles, with the former in a dual role. The soundtrack and background score, composed by Ilaiyaraaja were highly regarded as one of the greatest compositions of all time. The film was a critical and commercial success on release and is cited as one of the best Tamil films.


Archana (Sridevi) is a popular singer, and Johnny (Rajinikanth) is her ardent fan. Johnny is a conman who does petty thefts (only on the greedy ones) to close the loan taken by his father. He never misses Archana's concerts, and she notices this. A tender love develops between the two, but Johnny is guarded in accepting Archana's love due to his not-so-clean background. But one day Johnny accepts Archana's love when she proposes to him. Meanwhile, Vidyasagar (Rajinikanth), a barber and lookalike of Johnny, lives a lonely life with his assortment of pet animals. He falls for Bhama (Deepa), another loner, and they both plan to marry. Vidyasagar notices his lover's infidelity and kills her in rage. Knowing about his lookalike Johnny and knowing that he is wanted by the police, he tries to pass on the murder charge to him and gives up on women as well looking at them in low light. Both of them are chased by police, Johnny hides in a forest, and Vidyasagar tries to pass off as Johnny by taking refuge in Archana's house. Archana gets hurt by the curt behaviour of Vidyasagar (who is in the guise of Johnny) and is confused on the change in Johnny's behaviour. Finally, Vidyasagar realizes his folly, understands that not all women are the same, as well as their love, and unites the lovers by getting caught by the police, taking responsibility for Johnny's crimes.



Mahendran had a strong desire to make a film with Rajini at that time, hence he made this film simultaneously with Nenjathai Killathey. 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. However, by beautifully mixing the close up shots with stock shot, the scene came out well and was appreciated by everyone.[2] This was the first time for which popular artistes 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 Rajini and Sridevi. After the scene was shot, Rajini 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".[3]


Johnny was released on 15 August 1980.[4][5] 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 memorable songs attracted the audience, so the film picked up in the third week and became a success.[6] 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.[7] The Hindu wrote: "In a film where Rajinikanth played two contrasting roles, Sridevi effortlessly stole the show with her extraordinary performance as a singer hopelessly in love with a conman".[8]


The music composed for this film by Ilaiyaraaja is considered to be a milestone in Indian cinema history.[9] The songs of this film were widely appreciated and well received by the audience. Noted filmmaker Mani Ratnam rated this album as one his favourite soundtrack albums composed by the Maestro. S. P. Sailaja was 16 years old when she sang "Aasaiya Kaathula". The song "Aasaiya Kaathula" was reused two times in Telugu as "Naa Sari Sogasari" in Chakravyuham (1993) and as "Raathri" in Gundello Godari (2013).[10][11] It was also reused as "Sannata" in the Hindi film Shamitabh (2015).[12] The song was lifted by Anand-Milind as "Dil Mere Udaas" for Angrakshak (1995).[13] The song "Kaatril Endhan Geetham" was reused as "Naina Bole" in Aur Ek Prem Kahani (1996).[14]

No. Song Singers Lyrics Length (m:ss)
1 "En Vaanilae" Jency Kannadasan 4:47
2 "Asaiya Kathula" S. P. Sailaja Gangai Amaran 4:39
3 "Kaatril Endhan" S. Janaki 4:27
4 "Oru Iniya Manadhu" Sujatha 4:19
5 "Senorita" S. P. Balasubrahmanyam 4:21
6 "Chase Music" Ilaiyaraaja


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ Shivakumar, Vivek (11 December 2018). "A Superstar Career Through Titles". Film Companion. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  4. ^ Mahendran 2013, p. 344.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Mahendran 2013, p. 233.
  7. ^ Piousji (7 September 1980). "Khaas Baat". Sunday. p. 57.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Johnny Songs". raaga. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^


  • Mahendran, J. (2013) [2004]. Cinemavum Naanum [Cinema and Me] (in Tamil). Karpagam Publications.

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