Johnny Walker : All Time Comedy King of Indian Cinema

Johnny Walker (11 Nov 1926 – 29 July 2003) is the screen name of an Indian movie comedian, who acted in over 300 movies. He was born as Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi in Indore, India, the son of a mill worker. The family shifted to Mumbai (Bombay) when the textile mill his father worked in closed.[Looking after his 15-member family was tough for the father; five of the family members died young. Badruddin tried his hand at different occupations, including the job of a conductor in Bombay Electric Supply and Transport (B.E.S.T) buses. (He was posted mainly at Dadar bus depot, but worked on several routes.)

While issuing tickets as a B.E.S.T. bus conductor, Badruddin used to entertain passengers aboard with some antics. These antics caught the attention of actor and script-writer Balraj Sahni in 1950 while he was once traveling in a B.E.S.T. bus on which Badruddin, then 27, was working as a conductor. Sahni was penning at that time the script for the movie, Baazi (1951), and introduced Badruddin to Guru Dutt as a candidate for the role of a comedian. Badruddin's screen test consisted of acting as a drunk, and he did it so well that Guru Dutt gave him the screen name, "Johnny Walker", after the famous Scotch whisky brand. (Walker was always a teetotaler.) Later Johnny was cast as the hero in a movie, Johnny Walker (1957), which was named after himself.

He had a close friendship with Guru Dutt, who would often change scripts of his movies to accommodate a role for Johnny. The untimely death of Guru Dutt in 1964 deeply impacted him.

During the 1970s through the '90s, he had a few small roles in movies. His role in Anand showed that he could excel in a serious role even if it was for only a few minutes. His last performance was in actor/director Kamal Hasan's Chachi 420 in 1998; he had performed at the request of poet/director/writer Gulzar who had scripted that movie.

He also starred in the Punjabi film Teri meri ek jindari.

FAMILY :

Johnny Walker married Noor (short for Noorjehan), a sister of Shakila (actress).[4] He met Noor in 1955 on the sets of Guru Dutt's film Mr. and Mrs. 55. Johnny and Noor had three daughters: Kausar, Tasneem, and Firdaus; and three sons: Nazim, Kazim, and Nasir. Nasir is a well-known movie and TV actor.

Johnny Walker was a humble man, who kept a low profile even at the peak of his career.

MEMORABLE PERFORMANCES :

Johnny's most memorable roles were in the movies, "C.I.D","Pyaasa" and Chaudhwin ka Chand, wherein he sang the songs,Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan --a paean to the city of Bombay—and Sar Jo Tera Chakraye and a very famous shadi song "Mera Yaar Bana Hai Dulha", respectively. The song "Sar Jo Tera Chakraye" was developed during a visit by Guru Dutt and Johnny to Kolkata (Calcutta) before the filming of Pyaasa. While once having breakfast at a roadside joint, they happened to watch a local masseur apply his talents to a gentleman's head, and Guru Dutt asked Johnny to keep that scene in mind.

In view of the comedian's high popularity, in the 1950s producers would insist that a movie song be centered around Johnny. Johnny's popularity began to wane in the 1960s with the rise of actor/comedian Mehmood. "Filmmakers were no longer interested in my kind of clean comedies, and I thought it's time for me to bid goodbye," he once later said.

TRIBUTES :

* "Johnny Walker’s impeccable style lent a new meaning and respectability to the genre of comedy in Indian cinema," said Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister of India, on Johnny's death.

* "Every time there was a function on Independence Day or Republic Day, I was asked to get all these people to perform. [Indian Prime Minister] Pandit Jawarlal Nehru would request especially for Johnny Walker and Mukri. I could get them as they were my friends. Today that he is no more. I miss him," remarked Indian actor Dilip Kumar on Johnny's demise.