One day in 1950, Hindi film actor (and occasional script writer) Balraj Sahni was travelling in a BEST bus in Bombay when he noticed a bus conductor who didn’t just issue tickets or make sure people got on and off the bus safe and sound: he also entertained passengers. Balraj Sahni was in the middle of writing the script for the Dev Anand starrer Baazi, and thought the bus conductor would make a fine character in the film. So at his behest, Guru Dutt, the director, invited the conductor – a man named Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi – for a screen test. The test required Kazi to act a drunk, and he (although a teetotaler) was such a success that Guru Dutt gave him the name by which he was to become famous: Johnny Walker, after the well-loved Scotch.
To celebrate my favourite comedian’s birth anniversary (on November 11th), I decided it was high time Dusted Off hosted a Johnny Walker Week. After all, over the past two years, this blog has been celebrating this superb actor: with a list of his best songs, with occasional reviews of films in which he acted, and with an announcement of Tom Daniel’s Johnny Walker Songs Compilation DVD. Why not reviews of some of his best films, and a list of some of his most memorable roles? How about one week, all for Johnny Walker?
And – by way of karmic approval, I guess – one day someone named Nabil Khan left a comment on my blog about Johnny Walker. Nabil, it turned out, is the grandson of the great man himself. And, even better, Nabil’s promised to do a few posts for Johnny Walker Week. He’s in the process of setting up a Johnny Walker website, but while that happens, you can also follow Nabil (and, by extension, Johnny Walker!) on Twitter, here.
Without more ado, the first of Nabil’s posts on his grandfather. Some of this has been written by Nabil’s mother Tasneem Khan, Johnny Walker’s daughter, and it allows us an affectionate glimpse into the personal life of a man who sounds as wonderful (though perhaps in a different way) as he was onscreen.
My Abba, My Hero
My Abba, my hero – Abba is an icon of inspiration to me because though he came from a modest home, his hard work, perseverance and honesty led him to resounding success . His greatest strength was his selflessness, love and respect for humanity.
Whenever he had free time, he would love to spend it with the family. At home he was a quiet person, which is the opposite of his onscreen persona. Most people wouldn’t imagine it to be that way, but he lit up the screen with his lively personality and his comedic demeanor yet at home, he was always calm and quiet. The “comedian” came out of him whenever he would play with his grandchildren and he was very fond of them.
He was the type of person that always sought out the best for everyone around him, rather than just himself. He found immense happiness in doing charity and social work, a side of him which is unknown to many.
He was always punctual and he lead a disciplined lifestyle – eat, sleep, work and exercise, on time. He appreciated those who respected his time and he was always to be on time when he was invited for any events, dinners or movie shoots.
He was an avid outdoor enthusiast and enjoyed many sports and outdoor activities. He was very fond of fishing, hunting, skating and traveling, just to name a few. He would always enjoy going to the lake with the entire family – children and grandchildren included and teach them how to fish but he always loved the thrill of catching a big fish.
After retiring gracefully from the film industry he lead a happy life at home with the people whom he loved the most – his family. Abba is no more but he is still alive through his movies, his songs and his social work. Just his name “Johnny Walker” brings a smile or twinkle in your eyes as a “smile” is his everlasting gift to the world.
It is a blessing to have such wonderful parents. My mom, Mrs. NoorJahan Kazi, has to be mentioned as well because both my dad and my mom are both responsible for bestowing me with a memorable home, the fondest and the happiest years of my life.
Abba – Love you always, you are with us forever.
© Nabil Khan