Johnny Walker and Mehmood: An Uncelebrated Friendship

To bring Johnny Walker Week to a close, a post from his daughter Tasneem Khan, about a friendship whose depth few people were aware of. Over to Tasneem:

Thank you very much for Johnny Walker week. Celebrating his life’s journey I would like to take this opportunity to highlight an uncelebrated friendship cherished by Dad (Abba) and his so called ‘rival’ and ‘adversary’. Everyone knows about Dad’s heartfelt and profound friendship with Guru Dutt ji, Dilip (uncle) Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Naushad (uncle), Mohd. Rafi (uncle), just to name a few. But there is one name that is never mentioned, that is of Mehmood uncle.

Two thespians, two reigning comedians of their time, two absolutely brilliant individuals however, also, two very good friends unlike what most people believed. They shared brotherly love and high esteem for each other and respected each other tremendously. In a flashback, all the memories come to my mind to remind me of all the good times, celebrations, Eid parties, movie trials, and family grief shared by both our families.

Mehmood uncle was Dad’s well wisher. He was inspired by Dad’s achievements and success. He looked up to him with great admiration. Mumtaz Ali, father of Mehmood uncle had told him on his deathbed “Once I am gone do not think I am no more, as Johnny will be your Godfather”. This incident was disclosed to me by Mehmood uncle himself. Those words just add more depth to the relationship they shared and the camaraderie between them. Dad and Mehmood uncle’s families shared glorious years of friendship including the good times and the bad.

As time passed, with age came illnesses. Due to ailing health, dad was bedridden and one day Mehmood uncle called him from the U.S. to speak to him. Upon hearing dad’s frail voice he started crying. Dad kept on saying “Beta, ro mat (don’t cry)”. Mehmood uncle was so touched by Dad’s love for him he said “Johnny Bhai is so sick, but he is consoling me. Bhaijaan you are great, mere pyaare Johnny Bhai”. After Abba’s death Mehmood Uncle would call up and talk about the good old days with Johnny Bhai. Sometimes he would weep for him and at times just call to say “Today I prayed for Johnny Bhai, I miss him”.

We were great family friends with other comedians like Maruti, Agha, Mukri, Jagdeep. All were from the same competitive profession. Dad respected their work and in return he won their adulation. His spirited soul and big heartedness earned him a lifetime of friendships that flowed through to us children who attempt to continue those relationships with their children.

I am fortunate that these family friendships did not die with the legends passing away but are kept alive through their children.

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56 thoughts on “Johnny Walker and Mehmood: An Uncelebrated Friendship

  1. Absolutely the camaraderie between Johnny Bhai and Bhai jaan Mehmood is all visible in PATI PATNI and if I may add in Chote Nawab 1961 also, Johnny Bhai plays Capt Kanchan.
    Both a chip of da ol blast and if I may also Omji the g8 Prakash.

    Cheers :)

  2. Madhulika, Thanks to you my doubts on the media reprting is vindicated. This love & warmth they shared in a competitive world ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’ istouching. Todays brats & beaches ( pun intended!) need to read & imbibe.

  3. I loved his role in Anand when initialy he is laughing and on Anand’s death bed he is poignant adding tears to ours. An actpr who could make you split with just an eyebrow arched. or cast doubts with his furtive glances.
    Accomplished actor and a wonderful human being.
    Thank you Johnny bhai, ‘Jahapanah hum dab katputli hai aur dor upparwaley ke hath mein hai kaun kab … kahan !

  4. Btw it was Mumtaz Ali Saheb who co wrote Chhote Nawab along with B H Bukhari Saheb (who also wrote Pati Patni), and in this and Pati Patni, the songs were just superb, all under the super baton of Panchamda, one has to hear the full albums to see the range which Panchamda managed to do. Unfort songs of these g8 movies are not heard so often.

    Director for both was S A Akbar Saheb…. they made a wonderful team, no doubt!

    Cheers :)

  5. Thank you Tasneem Khan.
    The public always wonders, when two individuals doing the same thing in any walk of life come together.
    Do they like each other?
    Are they friends?
    How do they get along with each other?
    Are they jealous? etc etc

    This was an interesting piece of information.
    The two were so different in their style of comedy.

    @dusted off
    >To bring Johnny Walker Week to a close

    Can’t we have Johny Walker fortnight ? :-(

    • “Can’t we have Johny Walker fortnight ? :-(”

      :-D I would have loved to do that! Unfortunately, hosting a week means doing a lot of work in advance – most of my posts are written up way before, screen caps taken, etc. So extending this at this point would be very difficult! But I promise I’ll do another Johnny Walker Week sometime!

      • :-D
        There was double meaning in this dusted off.
        One was the literal one expressing the desire for this to go on.
        Second was to express the appreciation for the excellent work put into it…*which* resulted in the afore mentioned desire :-)

        • You’re a darling, pacifist! Yes, I guessed that, and I’m very grateful to you for appreciating me. :-) But I couldn’t have done it without the posts that Nabil and his mom wrote!

  6. Never kenw they were close friends!°
    how wonderful!
    Unfortunately haven’t seen any movie with them together. Both of them star in Pyaasa, but they don’t share screen space. Wonder if they met thro Guru Dutt.

    • As I mentioned to ash, above, I discovered that Rajshri have Chhote Nawab for free online viewing. So I’m going to check that out. From what I could gather while clicking through the film to take a screenshot with both JW and Mehmood, they do share quite a bit of screenspace in it.

    • You’re very welcome, harvey! I think among the most enjoyable pieces have been the wonderful bits of writing by Tasneem Khan and Nabil, which have helped show our favourite comedian up close. Thank you, Nabil, and thank you, Mrs Khan!

  7. Interesting, and very nice words from Tasneem…

    We didn’t see Johnny Walker and Mehmood together in films so much, but I wonder if their friendship was enhanced by the fact that Johnny Walker’s most frequent female co-star in songs and comedy scenes (at least in the films I have seen) was Mehmood’s sister. :)

    • Ah, yes, now that you mention it Richard. Minu Mumtaz *was* a frequent co star like Shubha Khote with Mehmood.

      Loved them in Chaudvin Ka Chaand.

      • Ah, yes – that is something I hadn’t realised, Richard. But now that you mention it, true. I haven’t seen too many films where Johnny Walker and Minoo Mumtaz are co-stars (offhand, I can only think of Kaagaz ke Phool, Mai Baap and – as pacifist mentions – Chaudhvin ka Chaand), but I have seen some films where both of them feature, even though they may not share screen space: Anjaan, CID, Black Cat. And they’re a lot of fun together. I think Minoo Mumtaz had quite a flair for comedy too; she’s very peppy and lively without being irritatingly so.

  8. Two great comedians of my teen age years were Johny Walker and Asit Sen. Then It was followed by Om Prakash and Tun Tun. God! You don’t find comedians of that kind any more. Johny Walker’s Drunken roles were imitated by Amitabh Bachchan, but alas! really the former was a genius.

    The humour was often mixed with pathos and brought both tears and laughter together.

    RIP Johny Walker Sir!

    • Amen to that! Yes, Johnny Walker – and some of his contemporaries, especially in my opinion Om Prakash – were in a class by themselves. Worthy of emulation, but impossible to actually emulate.

      • character actors are jaan of the old movies and i find them better actors and with better scenes to perform unlike hero heroines.

  9. Thank you so much for giving us glimpses into the man as well as the great actor. These reminiscences by the people who knew him are invaluable.

    What a wonderful week it has been!

  10. I sincerely thank Madhulika for making Johnny Walker week a memorable one for me. Your writing was a true reflection of Dad’s personality and showcased some of his most popular movies. We greatly appreciate your time ,commitment and efforts for making this possible and leading us down memory lane.
    Looking forward to reading some more interesting posts by you in the near future.
    Tasneem Khan

    • Thank you, Mrs Khan – both for the appreciation, and for sharing all your memories of your wonderful father with us! And I’m looking forward sometime to more guest posts from you and Nabil.

  11. It was lovely, reading the posts of Johnny Walker week and the comments.
    Thanks a lot to Johnny Walker’s daughter Tasneem and his grandson Nabil. Their posts were very interesting and touching, considering they came with a very personal side to them.

    Thanks to you too, Madhu, for making this happen. Must have been a lot of effort – highly appreciated.

    JW was my favourite comedian and I cannot get enough on him. :-)

  12. Wow… many thanks to Mrs Khan for sharing such poignant memories and thoughts. It’s a cliche but very true: to live on in the hearts of our loved ones is not to die. Thanks to you as well, dustedoff, for this lovely tribute to a great comedian and actor – Johnny Walker Week has given me a whole new appreciation and respect for Johnny Walker – I am looking forward to discovering more of his work.

  13. I’ve acted like a cat with cream to every post made during this wonderful week of tributes to one of my all time favorite actors – Johnny Walker. Inspired choice of subject matter, Madhu. Loved it.

    Thank you Tasneem and Nabil for sharing your precious memories with us.

  14. Amrita, oldgold: so both of you got that silly mail, I guess? And didn’t get that apologetic mail I sent out when I discovered…:-(

    Found out it was some hackers from China. Now, if I was the heroine in some good masala film, what revenge would I think up? A virus that can infect all their computers and set them calculating the value of pi?

  15. I was not aware that Johny Walker and Mehmood were this close with each other. They did not act together in the same movies too many times, but Minu Mumtaz (Mehmood’s sister) was paired up with Johny Walker in several movies.

    It is lovely to read this article written by Johny Walker’s daughter.

    • Yes, I actually had to refer to imdb to find out which films Johnny Walker and Mehmood co-starred in, because I couldn’t think of any offhand. But it’s a heartwarming little tale of friendship in a relationship that most would have expected to be one of deep rivalry.

  16. In Pati Patni 1966 Johny Walker has a very interesting role and he’s so good in it.
    In fact even Mehmood isn’t bad.

    They both had a substantial role.
    If one doesn’t like bharatiya nari stuff then it might not be fun, but for the sake of Johny Walker it can be watched…I think :-/

    There is this song with Mehmood and Om Prakash where Johny Walker appears towards the last minute or so, but at least one sees both of them in the same frame.

  17. That looks interesting! Haven’t seen Pati Patni (though I seem to have heard of it – did it feature Nanda, by any chance?), but Johnny Walker is, as far as I’m concerned, very watchable in almost anything. I’d see the film for him. :-)

  18. I never use the word ‘favourites’ for any actor,singer or any songs. I like most of them before the 80s,(except Manoj Kumar ,I like quite a few of his 60s films but not him). Only exception to that rule are 3 people, Johny Walker,Dev Anand (even the 70s one) and Asha Bhosle – (Lata is good but I prefer Asha , She is more versatile but that is not the reason for the preference).
    Enjoyed the posts in honour of Johny Walker. Thank you :)

  19. extremely saddened to hear about uncle’s passing away. may allah bless his soul. do contact me if you still remember us… nazli (from alkhobar, saudi arabia)

  20. A riveting read!

    I’ve seen a couple of films in which both Johnny Walker and Mehmood starred together and wish they had collaborated more. From the films I’ve seen them together in, the standout one would be Kahin Pyar Ho Na Jaaye (1963), which is quite difficult to get hold of. It’s an absolute comedy riot from start to finish and also stars Om Prakash, Nazir Hussain, Shakila and Amar. Johnny Walker and Mehmood together, a rib-tickling storyline, wonderful music by Kalyanji-Anandji and not a negative character in sight, what more could one ask for!

    Aji Surat Ho Tau Aisi Ho Aankh Milte Hi Dil Kho Gaya Haaye
    Aye! Mar Gaye! Gaadi Reverse Ho Gayi – Phir Se!
    Tujhe Dekh Ke Duniya Bol Uthi Masha-Allah Ghazab Ho Gaya Haaye…

    • Thank you for the recommendation! I’ve heard of Kahin Pyaar Ho Na Jaaye, though have never seen it. I must look out for it now. You do mention it’s hard to get hold of; where did you find the copy you saw?

      • It’s in the family collection.

        Lehrein Retro have uploaded it on their channel on YouTube, but it’s been chopped up and reduced down to two hours. I doubt it’ll be much fun with so many scenes edited out. Try and get hold of the VHS version or even DVD if it’s availabe.

  21. johny walker saheb loved him in mere mehboob, madhumati , chaudvi ka chaand, CID, payasa. my question agar voh sahib biwi aur gulaam mein hotey toh kya hota ??

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