Johnny (1993)

A heart-capturing early childhood of one of the most popular saints of the last millennium – Don Bosco

Director: Sangeeth Sivan

Stars: Shantikrishna, Tarun


1994 Best Children’s award in Kerala
1994 Critics award in Kerala
1998 Screened at the 16th FAJR Inter National Film Festival in Tehran


English, Hindi, Malayalam,
Tamil, Telugu, Kannada



 JOHNNY –  Celluloid tribute to Don Bosco

 It’s hard to pick holes in this film. The technique is brilliant and the story, wholesome and clean. Little wonder then that the Malayalam film ‘Johnny’ is coasting along, having picked up two Kerala state awards for the ‘Best children’s film’ and the ‘Film critics’ award, and has been entered in several International film festivals, among them, Finland, Chicago and Iran…

The greatest ‘plus’ of the film is the breathtaking cinematography. The camera has been wielded by none other than the camera wizard, Santosh Sivan. The Sivans Studio as the production unit, with Sangeeth Sivan as director…

A film on the childhood of one of the greatest educationists, Don Bosco, ‘Johnny’ is crafted to belong to the genre of children’s films, yet with a balanced measure of the essential properties that will endear it to all age groups. The sensitivity with which the film is portrayed and picturised is the other striking feature. Although the storyline may seem too simplistic, depicting the youngest’s sibling’s irrepressible craving for learning against the day-to-day rough and tumble of a poor family’s struggle for survival, the story is never diffused, the plot, inane though it may seem, holding together cohesively from start to finish…

A ‘period  ‘ film dealing with the early 19th century and historically set in a village called Beechi in Italy, the production unit has virtually transposed these settings to Kerala, to appeal to the Indian audiences, thus bringing about an unusual and effective blend of the east and west as regards costumes, appearances, cultural aspects, down to sets and props. The innovative use of music is the other attractive feature of the film….

Meera John Chakrabarthy

THE WEEK, Feb 27, 1994.

Boy oh boy!  – Don Bosco’s childhood makes an engrossing film

BOYS, as do girls, just wanna have fun. And the boys in the film Johnny are no exception. But to Johnny, fun includes playing ball, playing pranks and believe it or not, studying…

For Johnny (Tarun Kumar who played the mentally retarded girl’s older brother in Mani Ratnam’s Anjali) is a little boy with big ambitions. In a largely illiterate village, he nurses a desire for learning. Yet, he is an average young boy who enjoys looking after the goats in the green fields…

Johnny is the story of John Bosco, the 19th century Italian educationist, who did much to help school many poor children. The film is about his childhood in the village of Becchi, and his quest for education…

Ordinarily, this subject is enough to turn off any normal child of our times. But the theme has been dealt with a thorough insight into the minds of small boys, and a knowledge of what holds their interest. The several morals of this story are prepared with exciting and dramatic moments guaranteed to catch their interest. All that is missing is romance. The scenes of the picturesque village shot in Kerala’s tea-growing Munnar by cameraman Santosh Sivan are exquisite…

The main thread that runs through the story is the importance of learning.

Johnny Bosco is presented in very likable terms. His wide knowledge of books and, more importantly, the stories in them, makes him a favourite with the village kids…ies in them, makes him a favourite with the village kids…