Except for some slick action, Pawan Kalyan's Johnny is a big disappointment.
It runs contrary to his previous jovial films, and his attempt to fuse action with tragedy could backfire.
Kalyan, who won the hearts of the masses by playing a prankster in Thamudu and Kushi, should have opted for a light-hearted entertainer for his maiden directorial venture, instead of weaving a tale of a youth who runs from pillar to post to save his cancer-stricken wife (Renu Desai).
Pawan loses his mother (Geetha) very early in life. The remarriage of his father (Raghuvaran) leaves him disturbed. One day, he walks out on his family and vows never to return. He earns a living by teaching schoolchildren karate and spends time at a cafe. He soon falls in love with Renu Desai, a teacher at a school for spastic children, and marries her.
At a friend's marriage, Renu collapses. It turns out that she is suffering from cancer. Kalyan collects money from his friends and leaves for Mumbai to get his wife treated. As the days pass, his resources start dwindling and doctors are forced to discontinue the treatment.
One day, he saves a man (Ali) from a thug. When Ali learns of Kalyan's problems, he decides to help him. He takes him to a don (Raza Murad). Kalyan starts making money on wrestling.
A few fights and dramatic turns later, all is well.
Cinematographer Chota Naidu should be lauded for his perfect mood lighting as also for crisply capturing the action sequences. Ramana Gogula's music is pedestrian -- the rehashing of an old N T Rama Rao hit number is atrocious -- but he supports the film with his background score.
The screenplay is poor and disjointed, with three songs one after the other like a countdown show. The story too moves at a snail's pace.
Overall, it is sloppy work from Kalyan.