After the post about Johnny Walker, the actor, the famous comedian’s grandson Nabil Khan brings us another post about his granddad. And with two lovely photos too, of which this one in particular made me go all mushy and “Oh-so-sweet!!!”-ing:
Enough gushing. Over to Nabil, now:
Mera Superman: My Nana
My Nana cannot be described too easily in words and maybe that is why I always have a difficult time explaining how he was. To the audiences who loved and adored his work, he may have been Johnny Walker, but to me and all of the other grandchildren, he was just our “Nana” or “Dada”.
I will never forget his distinct style, his voice and his gestures. In one aspect of his life, he lit up the silver screen with his comedic persona while in his personal life, his grandchildren lit up his world and brought out the comedian in him. It’s not very easy to explain how simple he really was.
He was a very modest man and aside from the occasional suit that he would wear to a meeting or any occasion, most people would find him in his signature white kurta and pajama. He never believed in extravagance that wasn’t justified and even explained to us that some things just aren’t necessary for one to be happy.
Most days, he would love to lounge in his favorite chair in the garden at the house. He was an active person and even in the later years of his life, he maintained his routine of walking on the ground floor of the house as the kids played in the garden. Sometimes, I would even join him for his brisk walk from one end of the garden to the other end. He would normally never take a break but for his grandkids, he would. He never minded the distraction that we provided him because to him, it was everything and to us, he was everything.
We never really knew what he really did or how big an impact he actually had on the film industry until we were about 12 or 13. We always understood the fact that he was an actor, but the magnitude of his success was unknown to us. He never discussed it or talked about it with us and he never thought it was necessary for us to be influenced. He always said that his comedy was always clean and that the Indian film industry wasn’t what it used to be when he started acting.
During his last visit to the US, where a majority of his kids live, he mentioned to me in the car the hardships that he went through on a daily basis just to make sure that his siblings had food on the table. Walking miles on a daily basis just to provide for a better life for his family. He told me how seriously he took his first audition in front of Mr. Guru Dutt because he knew that at the end of the day, it could lead to a potentially better life for his family.
He was kindhearted to say the least and always did whatever he could to help those in need. He strongly believed in charity and he slowly used the wealth he came across from the film industry to raise his family out of poverty and provide them with a better life. Although he was never able to have a proper education, he was always proud of the accomplishments of my brother and I. He always said that one day, we would be successful and here we are today. Knowing how happy he would be to see us succeed and progressing daily brings me immense joy not only because it’s where we wanted to be, but we know that it’s what he would expect from us.
In the end, what I’d like to say is that he made an everlasting impact on everyone’s life, no matter if they met him for a minute or knew him for years such as myself and the rest of our family. He always had a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face because he always knew that his heart was clean and that he had no regrets. He was an honest and humble man to say the least. He made an everlasting impact on the Indian film industry but more so he left me and the rest of my family with memories that have had an everlasting impact on our lives. He was, is, and always will be, a legend, a hero but most importantly, my version of Superman.
I love you and miss you Nana! You have brought happiness into our life and shown us a perfect example of an absolutely perfect human being. What more can we ask for? Besides for you.
Text and images © Nabil Khan