Monday, 19 December 2016

Johnny Walker: The Drunkard who was a Teetotaller

The year 1950, Guru Dutt was planning his directorial debut in Navketan studio with his beloved friends Dev Anand, Chetan Anand and his script writer Balraj Sahni. The discussion was about ‘Baazi’. A drunkard entered the studio and started uttering nonsensical things as he was not in his senses. They started enjoying at first but after half an hour the guy was ordered to be thrown out. That very moment Balraj Sahni ordered ‘cut’ to the drunkard, Badru Miyaan come back to your original identity. Everyone was astonished to see a drunk guy turning sober in seconds! Guru Dutt instantly casted him in ‘Baazi’ and gave him a character of drunkard which was already written by Sahni. And Hindi cinema found a brilliant actor and the best comedian.

Yes, he was none other than Johnny Walker!

Badruddin Kazi, who worked as a conductor in BEST after coming to Bombay from Indore, had always dreamt of becoming an actor. He used to entertain the passengers while giving tickets or any while doing any announcement. There are stories of how he met Sahni, who happened to be the key of the gate of Hindi film industry for him. Some say that Badru was spotted on the set of Hulchul among 20 other extras by Balraj Sahni. He told him to come and meet Guru Dutt. While some stories go like, He saw him in the BEST bus and instantaneously captured his talent. Later, they became friends and Sahni had already written a role for him in Baazi. He just wanted to present him in front of Guru Dutt and so the audition took place in a unique way.

What can be a better name for a person, who always plays a role of drunkard, other than Johnny Walker? Guru Dutt renamed him and the death of bus conductor was celebrated by the birth of the most beloved comedian!

Johnny Walker started his film career in 1948, but Guru Dutt's films showed him the peak of his career. Baazi, CID, Mr. & Mrs. '55 are some of his best movies with his best friend, who was actually crazy for Johnny Walker’s versatility. He was the first comedian whose part was in tremendous demand in the film by not only audience but also producers. People used to come to watch many movies after seeing his name. Off course, he had at least one song in every movie and he used to perform them so vividly. May it be his raised eyebrows inSirrjo tera chakaraye…or his expressions in Yeh hai Bombay meri Jaan’! He always got paid and respected just like the lead actor. His attempts to portray heroic personae in the eponymous Johnny Walker and Mr. Quartoon were not successful but as he was typecasted as a comedian, films such as Mere Mehboob, Pyaasa, Madhumati, Chori Chori made him a star. It did not matter to audience how much time he is going to be on the screen or what would be his role, all they knew was Laakh dukhon ki ek dawa hai,
Kyu na aazmaye?’ 

His films never faced a cut at sensor, which were always family comedies. It was after 1970 he started feeling like the ‘clean comedy’ has almost on the verge of finishing. Eventually, he opted to part ways from Hindi films. Guru Dutt sudden demise also shattered him.

Jabse yeh industry ‘Bollywood’ bann gayi hai, mere mijaaz ko yeh comedy samjh nahi aayi chij aur mein kaam nahi karna chahta tha aise. Bahut ijja tkamaa li, bahut naam kamaa liya… ab double meaning aur vulgarity wali filme karke mein kyu apna naam kharab karu?” 

After around 1966, when he was on the peak of his career, he decided to accept few movies even though he got paid the highest. Hrishida actually forced him for his small role Isabhai in the film Anand (1971).

His final film came after an absence of 14 years when he took a role in Chachi 420 (1997) on the request Kamal Haasan and the script writer Gulzar. He definitely enjoyed his life after films as he always says, 

Allah ne mujhe itna nawaaja hai toh ussne jo zindagi khushiya di hai, unhe nazarandaz kaise kar sakte hai?

Being a ‘teetotaller’ he never touched alcohol in his life although, touched millions of hearts with his pure acting of drunkard. He has always been a classic inspiration for the next generation of actors.

He was a simple man, had simple dreams of security and stability for his family, just like all of us!

It was a normal day in 2003, when he breathed his last, and suddenly he was gone, leaving behind three sons, three daughters, his millions of mourning fans and the ultimate Tel maalish Champi!

Written by Medini Kajarekar
Walking through the pages to find home in words.

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