When the story of Johny Gaddaar was narrated to me, I was of the opinion that the film should be set in the ’60s. Everyone had the same feeling, but we had issues with the budget and some modern elements like mobile phones etc in the script. So, we decided to make it a contemporary story. But the essence of the idea stayed in our mind, and it influenced a lot in the final making of the film. Elements like music is an example of this influence.
Films from the ’60s were part of my research for a visual design. When you watch older colour films today they look warmer than the present-day films. It’s basically because colours like blue and green fade away over time from the print, and red, black and white become prominent colours.
I decided to use this in my colour scheme. It was an idea in my mind but never discussed with anybody. Any discussion on ‘colour scheme’ is generally faced with disinterest. The resistance generally comes as a comment, ‘we would like the film to have a ‘NORMAL’ look.’
It took more than a year for the film to go on floor. Meanwhile, I managed to smuggle this idea into most of the departments. Colour RED became part of everything, costumes, props, locations, lighting scheme, all the way to the chutney poured over the fish without making anything look ‘ABNORMAL.’
I believe this helped the visual presence of the film in a big way.
A couple of reviews did mention it. In Rediff.com Raja Sen wrote-
“The colour of passion. The colour of blood. The colour of treachery.
Red almost never fills the entire frame in Johnny Gaddaar, but the colour is used to sensational effect all across the periphery -- beanbags, shirts, blankets covering sitars, mid-burger slices of tomato -- constantly highlighted and meticulously framed by persistently duller colours around it.
It's not black and white or made largely on a computer, but the superlative way director Sriram Raghavan dabs the Red onto this film begs comparison with a totally different world of vitally discoloured noir: Robert Rodriguez' Sin City. Take a bow, cinematographer CK Muraleedharan, masterfully executed.”