Bollywood Legends - Johnny Walker
Johnny Walker was born Badruddin Kazi in Indore in 1924. He was the son of a mill worker.
Johnny was earning his livelihood as a bus-conductor when his fate took a turn for the better. One fine day, scriptwriter Balraj Sahani who was penning the film Baazi for Guru Dutt, happened to be travelling in the bus where Johnny was a conductor. Johnny Walker as usual was in his form, entertaining his passengers. And much to Balraj's delight, he had found the comedian he had been looking for.
Balraj arranged a meeting between Guru Dutt and Johnny Walker, where Johnny staggered in as if drunk. Guru Dutt was thoroughly impressed with this act of his and the rest is history!
And obviously, Guru Dutt rechristened Badruddin Kazi as Johnny Walker after the famous Scotch brand.
His career took off. Renowned film-makers, reputed banners sought him out and and characters were especially written for him.He bought his own class act in films like Naya Daur, Aadmi aur Insaan, Madhumati, Devdas, C.I.D., Chaudhvin Ka Chand, Mr & Mrs 55, Chori Chori etc.
Audiences clamoured to see more of him. C.I.D's Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan is still the anthem for the Mumbaites. And who could forget the timeless Sar Jo Tera Chakraye in Guru Dutt's classic Pyaasa? His squeaky voice, wafer-thin moustache and devastating wit added a different dimension to this funny man.
The man who is the ideal for other aspiring comedians worshipped the legend Charlie Chaplin. And Johnny was very particular in not making digs at any Community or mouthing vulgarity. Not many would remember now but he has also played the hero in few films too. Of course the movies were based on comedy and ably supported with good music they did quite well too.
Johnny Walker is remembered as a very humble person who always kept a low-profile even when he was the peak of his career. Off screen too, he was a serious and reserved person. He married Noor, actress Shakila's sister who he met on the sets of Guru Dutt's movie. He has three daughters and three sons, one of whom, Nasir Khan is an actor in his own right now.
Johnny had once remarked that: "There was no question of stealing scenes or other acts of one-upmanship. The director was always there and he would promptly bring us back to earth." He always used to point out that his successful films were a result of good work. "The writer gave me good lines, Thanks to him, the material was always there. Under the supervision of the director, it was left to me to deliver the goods."
After a long successful innings, Johnny took a break especially, when to his sheer disgust he found the genre of comedy change. He was not able to relate to crude comedies in the 70's and decided to devote full-time for his family. As was the fact that he was totally disheartened when he lost his buddy, teacher, mentor Guru Dutt.
Johnny settled in domesticity at Oshiwara in suburban Mumbai and spent his time nurturing mango, guava, coconut and olive trees. He also was an avid sports watcher and followed his favourite games like soccer, hockey and billiards.
Forhis fans, it was a pleasant surprise to see Johnny Walker once more on the big-screen. It was on the persuasion of Gulzar that he relented to play the role of a make-up man who transforms Kamal Hasan into a matronly aunt in Chachi 420, 1997.
He led a complete life replete with fond memories of his co-actors, directors in his heydays. He passed away on 29th July, 2003 due to kidney ailment at the age of 79. But this legendary King of Comedy will live on in the hearts of his fans.