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The King of Comedy

Friday, November 08, 2013
By Suneel V. Gaur and Rajesh V. Gaur

Ace comedian Johnny Walker’s birthday is on November 11. Here’s a look at his journey in Bollywood.

Johnny Walker cast a magic spell among the masses with his simple, innocent and unadulterated humor, providing comic relief in tense situations in the movies of the 50s and 60s. Badruddin Kazi aka Johnny Walker started his career as a bus conductor in BEST buses of Mumbai. He regaled passengers with his antics, and fortune smiled upon him one day when he had actor Balraj Sahani as his passenger. Balraj was scripting dialogues for the film ‘Baazi’ whose director was Guru Dutt. Inspired by Johnny’s antics Balraj took him to Guru Dutt and asked him to introduce himself. Johnny hit upon a brain wave and entered Guru Dutt’s cabin with the unsteady gait of a drunk, mouthing profanities. An irate Guru Dutt called up people from the unit to throw Johnny out but Balraj intervened, and the rest is history. After this incident, Guru Dutt rechristened Badruddin Kazi as Johnny Walker after the famous Scotch brand as he was very impressed with his portrayal of a drunk.

Thus Johnny Walker became an integral part of many Guru Dutt movies like ‘Aar Paar’, ‘Mr and Mrs 55’, ‘CID’, ‘Pyaasa’, ‘Kagaz Ki Phool’, ‘Chaudvin Ka Chand’, ‘Sahib Bibi Aur Gulam’ and others. His impeccable diction combined with his wonderful performances created a mesmerizing combination which the audience lapped up in excitement. His excellent sense of comic timing in delivering dialogues helped him give stellar performances resulting in renowned film-makers seeking him out and specially writing characters for him.

C.I.D’s ‘Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan’ is still an anthem for Mumbaikars and who could forget the timeless ‘Sar Jo Tera Chakraye’ in Guru Dutt’s classic Pyaasa? His squeaky voice, wafer-thin moustache and brilliant wit added a different dimension to his personality.

After a long successful innings, Johnny took a break from Bollywood, but pleasantly surprised his fans when he returned to one last time in ‘Chachi 420’ (1997).

In a place like Bollywood, where morality is buried and the power of money overrides principles and ideals, people like Johnny Walker have stood like rocks. They made people laugh but ensured that never made themselves a laughing stock.

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