Star of the week - JOHNNY WALKER

Name: Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi
DOB: November 11, 1926
Star: Scorpio
Birthplace: Indore, India
Occupation: Actor


• Better known by his stage name Johnny Walker, he acted in around 300 films and won Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award for Madhumati and Filmfare Best Comedian Award for Shikar.

• Johnny’s drawing power at the box office was such that distributors would insist on him having a song in the film and would pay extra to ensure it.

Interesting facts:

• Johnny Walker was born in a Muslim family to a mill worker and was the second of 10 children.

• When his family moved to Bombay (now Mumbai), he took various jobs as the sole breadwinner for the family, eventually becoming a bus conductor. Johnny travelled many miles and at unsocial hours at various times in order to buy and then sell ice candy, fruit, vegetables, stationery and other goods.

• Throughout his youth, Johnny dreamed of being involved in films, idolising actor-comedian Noor Mohammed Charlie and practising stunts that he saw on-screen. He continued to nurture his desire to work in films and entertained his passengers with amusing routines, hoping that he would at some point be spotted by someone with connection to the movie industry.

• His wish came true. Although the details are unclear, actor Balraj Sahni saw him, perhaps on a bus or while Johnny was amusing the cast of Hulchul, a film in which he had obtained a small part, with an extemporised routine as a drunk. Sahni, who sources say was either at that time writing the script for Baazi (1951) or acting in Hulchul, told Johnny to demonstrate his drunkard act to actor-director Guru Dutt. That led to him gaining a role in the former movie. It was Dutt who gave him the name Johnny Walker, a reference to the brand of Scotch whisky, when he was inspired by his display in the role of a drunkard.

• Thereafter, Johnny appeared in all but one of Dutt's movies, and the director encouraged him to ad lib and to draw on his varied life experiences. He primarily played comedic roles. Films such as Mere Mehboob, C.I.D., Pyaasa and Chori Chori made him a star. His later career was affected by Dutt’s death in 1964.

• Johnny’s career faded in the 1980s, as he was unwilling to adopt the cruder form of comedy and changed priorities that had become the vogue.

• Johhny’s final film came after an absence of 14 years when he took a role in a remake of Mrs. Doubtfire, titled Chachi 420 (1997). During the intervening period, he had a successful business dealing with precious and semi-precious stones.

• Despite often playing the roles of a drunk, Walker was a teetotaller. He married Noorjahan, actress Shakila’s sister, in spite of opposition from her family. Regretting that he had been forced to leave school at sixth standard, he sent his sons to the U.S. for schooling.