What's common between the popular songs, 'Sar Jo Tera Chakraye' and 'Yeh Hain Bambai Meri Jaan'? It's the legndary actor Johnny Walker who breathe life into these tracks and made them immortal! Born in 1926 to a Muslim family in Indore, he was named Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi and was second of the 10 children.
When the mill where his father worked shut down, the family travelled to Mumbai in search of work. Johnny's father knocked on many doors but failed to find a job. Meanwhile, Johnny's five siblings died out of poverty and malnutrition. It is said that Johnny quit school at the age of 10 and did odd job like selling ice candy to children outside school, and sometimes even hawked fruits and vegetables door to door. But destiny had some other plans in store for him.
On his 92nd birth anniversary today, we take a quick glance at his life journey-
From A Bus Conductor To An Actor
In her book Encyclopaedia of Bollywood - Film Actors, Renu Saran writes, "While issuing tickets as a BEST bus conductor, Badruddin used to entertain passengers aboard with some antics. These antics caught the attention of an actor and script-writer Balraj Sahni in 1950 while he was travelling in a bus on which Badruddin, then 27, was working as a conductor."
How He Bagged His First Film
Kazi was a big movie buff and idolised the then superstar Noor Mohammed Charlie. He would narrate dialogues from Noor Mohammed's films while punching tickets for his passengers. His antics caught the eye of Balraj Sahni who introduced him to director Guru Dutt.
Kazi bagged his first acting role in Dutt's directorial debut Baazi (1951).
How Kazi Became Johnny Walker
It was Guru Dutt who rechristened Kazi as Johnny Walker after his favourite brand of whisky.
He Was A Teetotaller In Real Life
Despite often playing the roles of a drunk, Walker was a devout Muslim and a teetotaller in real life.
Johnny Was A Die-Hard Romantic
Johnny met his future wife Noorjahan, sister of actress Shakeela, during a film shooting in 1955 and it was love at first sight for both of them. Noorjahan's parents were not for the wedding, so he encouraged her to elope with him and conducted a midnight nikaah.
Johnny shared quite a close bond with Guru Dutt and had once mentioned in an interview, "He used to tell me - Here's your scene, your dialogue. If you can do better, go ahead. In every rehearsal I would come up with something new. Guru Dutt used to love that. He used to look at everyone on the sets and see if the light boys, the cameraman, the assistants were laughing at my dialogues. Guru Dutt then had an assistant to write down whatever I said in the rehearsals. That's how we worked."
When Guru Dutt passed away, something inside Johnny Walker broke. But like they say, the show must go on, Johnny went on to do a couple of films with Dilip Kumar. After working in films like Raja Jaani, Shaan and others, he slowly opted out of big screen. Until, Kamal Haasan brought him back on-screen in Chachi 420 where he played an alcoholic make-up artist.