Noor – Mrs. Johnny Walker

We’ve mourned the passing of a favourite star, but now—in the yin and yang way of zindagi and maut that Anand would possibly have appreciated—it’s time to celebrate a birthday. Today, July 21st, is the 77th birthday of a very lovely lady who began a career in cinema, appeared in some landmark films, and then bagged her biggest offscreen role: as the wife of possibly India’s best-loved comedian ever. This is Noor, the beautiful Mrs Johnny Walker.

A few days ago, Johnny and Noor’s daughter Tasneem Khan commented on my blog (she had earlier contributed some posts for Johnny Walker week, on Dusted Off), and in a departure from my usual reticence, I asked her if she would like to do a post on Noor, and one on Noor’s sister, Shakila. So here, just in time to wish Noor a very, very happy birthday, is Tasneem’s post on her mother. Over to Tasneem:

I would like to start by saying that I am very excited and extremely happy to write a post on Mummy as it is the first post/article ever written only for her. I would like to give you a glimpse of her short film career. I say short, because she quit the film industry once she married my dad, Johnny Walker. My mummy’s name is Noor, though people know her as Mrs. Johnny Walker or actress Shakila’s sister.

She is 2nd amongst three extremely beautiful sisters, Shakila, Noor & Nasreen, all of whom have had their fair share of acting exposure in Indian cinema. They were born & brought up in Mumbai by their Aunt (Bua), after losing their parents when they were very young.

Mummy got her first break into films was when she did the childhood role of actress Noorjahan  in the film Anmol Ghadi (1946). A very popular song was picturized on her in a horse carriage – “Udan khatoley pe udh jaon”.

In 1947, in the film Dard, she played the role of Suraiya, portraying Munawar Sultana’s childhood.

She was also present in Do Bigha Zameen, in 1953 in a cameo role as Rani, the granddaughter of the land lady in the basti when Balraj Sanhi comes to the city. Another film, Alif Laila, in 1953 starring Nimmi in which she portrayed the role of Malika with Pran.

A very popular song “Chota sa ghar hoga” from the film Naukri (1954), was also picturized on her and Kishore Kumar. She played the role of his sister in the film.

In 1955, she was offered a lead opposite Dad in Guru Dutt’s film Aar Paar. “Arre na na tauba tauba” was yet another melodious song picturized on her and Dad.

In 1955 she married Dad, and made the decision to end her career in the film industry so that she could dedicate her life to the family. I am very proud of Mummy as she sacrificed her career for her family. Her sacrifice did not go unnoticed as, till today because of her, the entire family is tight knit and meets consistently for family gatherings.

Mom gave us a home sweet home, away from the filmi lifestyle. She is very simple, loving & generous. In fact, her generosity and habits are very similar to Dad’s. What I love the most about her is her fantastic smile, simplicity & bigheartedness. Till today Mummy’s smile is as vibrant and sweet as it was during her acting career. It is a blessing to have such great parents who passed their values onto me which I deeply cherish and continue to practice in my daily life.

This article is dedicated to the best Mom because, along with Dad, she has given us tremendous love, the happiest memories and the best years of my life.

Text and images © Tasneem Khan

78 thoughts on “Noor – Mrs. Johnny Walker

  1. There are some advantages of being the person hosting a blog on which a guest post appears, because I get to be the first to comment! Thank you so much for this,Tasneem – and a very happy birthday to your gorgeous mum. I remember watching Arre na na tauba tauba when I was very small (I didn’t get to see Aar Paar till much later) and thinking how very vibrant and vivacious the lady with Johnny Walker was. Then my father told me that she was Johnny Walker’s wife, and I thought what a perfect pair they seemed to make – both so full of life.

    Thanks again! And many, many happy returns of the day to Noor. :-)

    • Swear I did not know about Mrs. Johnny Walker … a revelation …Though met the great actor twice when I was posted at Doordarshan, New Delhi. He had a serial going on DD Metro where I was the Channel Head in 1996- 1999 and met him along with his Advertising Agents. He was quite sober and serious. Even I had to comment on that …. yet he didn’t get provoke and gave a dry smile. I have forgotten the name of serial but Johnny Sahab’s face in my room is still fresh in memories …. A great actor indeed.

  2. Oh my God, this is awesome! Happy birthday, Noor! :DD I’m second to comment, yay. :D But this post is really awesome. I’m going to have to see Aar Paar now. (looks at mountainload of work) Well, yes, I still have to do that, but I’ll fit in some time.

    But thanks for the guest post and for sharing with us! :DDD

    • You should certainly watch Aar Paar. It’s a good noir-romance film, the music is fantastic, and of course, you get to see Johnny Walker and Noor together. They’re wonderful. :-)
      Oh, and before I forget: Aar Paar also has Shakila, with two great songs picturised on her.

      Lots of reason to watch.

      • Yeah! I went to the DVD shop here in Vancouver and I tell you, it was pure heaven. HEAVEN.

        Number one – a whole huge shelf with CDs – Mukesh hits, Rafi hits, Mahendra Kapoor hits, oh my God! I was feasting on it. And there were a couple of T-shirts, but they were idiotic. (Mrs Shahrukh Khan? Um, no.) And there was a whole shelf with Rajesh Khanna movies out. REALLY. Ittefaq, Aakhri Khat, Kati Patang, Aradhana, oh my God!

        And surprise, surprise. Dharmendra movies on the next shelf! I could melt into a puddle – they had Black Mail! Oooooooooooh! And Bandini! OOOOOOOOOOOH. Then there were some 70’s movies on the next couple of shelves – I didn’t really look at them. Then my father points out something – they had these huge B & W photos of old actors on the walls with their SIGNATURESSSSS! DEV’S. SHAMMI’S. MADHUBALA’S. I THINK I CAN DIE NOW.

        And then what – ten, twelve shelves stocked with old movies. INCREDIBLE SELECTION. I picked up 5 of them and got one for free (My Uncle was like – 5 only :P), and got a CD with Rafi’s songs and a CD with Rajesh Khanna songs. So happy. I came back home and started dancing like a cracko. I got Howrah Bridge, Andaz (1971 one), Baazi, Pyar Ka Sagar, Suraj (YES. ;D) , and the movie called Singapore. How was I supposed to resist?

        Now I’ll just blackmail all my family members to buy me 6 DVDs from the store and I’ll be so happy. :DD

        • So Christmas came early this year, did it? ;-) Sounds like loads of fun – you certainly seem to have struck gold. Of the films you bought, I’ve not seen Pyaar ka Saagar. As for Suraj, I would have definitely steered clear of that and gone for Ittefaq instead. That’s a fantastic film, and Suraj really gets my goat. But I hope you enjoy them! Post reviews, please. :-)

          • Yup! So happpppppyyyy! I want to dance! My family members say I should go to the stores in Surrey (Lots of Punjabis there) – I imagine they’d have so many shelves of old movies! Yay! I was jumping up and down in the store – I wish I could buy everything! :DDDDDD

            Aww, why? I got Suraj cause of Rajendra (-cough-) and the songs! I figured I could watch Ittefaq online. There were so many others though – Chhalia, Ganga Jamuna, Mahal (1949 one, it ultimately came down to that or Andaz, and I got Andaz because Howrah Bridge was a little similar to Mahal. I’ll have to get that one though!), and a lot of others. I didn’t see Bombai Ka Babu though. :( I really want to see that!

            On a side note, my great-grandmother has this VCD of Dil Ek Mandir (Don’t ask me where that came from, once I saw it my legs turned to jelly), and I ran around the house and started jumping like crazy. Though I’m going to watch that myself. Not going to risk it in front of everyone. And the ending is simply… uhm. To say the least, I fell off my bed.

            • “Howrah Bridge was a little similar to Mahal.

              How? I remember both fairly well (especially as I rewatched Mahal not too long back – even reviewed it), but other than the lead pair, I don’t remember too many similarities.

              I find Suraj (along with Saathi, Aman, Geet and some others) among Rajendra Kumar’s most irritating films. I must confess I haven’t seen it in years – last saw it when I was a teenager, and hated it.

              • The lead pair, yes, and both are thrillers, though Mahal is more supernatural and Howrah Bridge is more about crime. And I wanted to see Howrah Bridge because I was sick of having “Aaiye Meherbaan” play in my head every time I read the word “Calcutta”. And “Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu”. Besides, Andaz had Shammi and Rajesh Khanna and some wonderful songs, so.

                Well, I think I’ll like it, and even if it fails me, the songs are plain awesome. Seriously. (I had “Bahaaron Phool Barsaao” in my head for weeks. Literally broke the replay button on YouTube. :B)

    • Stuart, Harvey: You’re welcome! My aim behind getting Tasneem to write this post was purely selfish, I admit – I did want to know more about her mother, who totally enchanted me in Aar Paar. :-)

  3. Happy Birthday Noor!
    Wonderful to hear from an actress, of whom one hears so little.
    Thank you Tasneem for taking time and shedding some light on the life of your parents.
    Thank you Madhu for organising this!

  4. Tasneem, wonderful post. I have been a fan of hers since I saw her in Aar Paar; she looked lovely in that song, wearing a frock in the old style. Aar Paar was all about migrants, with a Parsi (your dad), a christian, a Bhopali and a Punjabi. A very happy birthday to her.

  5. Happy Birthday Noor.
    Thank you Tasneem for sharing your thoughts with us on your mother’s birthday.
    I love the aar paar song. It’s so melodious, and was very familiar with the song ‘chota sa ghar…’, but didn’t know who the sister was till it was mentioned in one of the posts during the ‘Johny Walker’ week.

    • Thank you, pacifist! We needed cheer, didn’t we? And it’s high time somebody sat up and took notice of Shakila’s sister and Johnny Walker’s wife. :-)

      Incidentally, when I had another look at my review of Do Bigha Zameen. I realised that there are actually two screen grabs there which have Noor in them. I wonder why I never recognised her as Johnny Walker’s girl from Aar Paar.

  6. I was delighted to see this guest post from Tasneem.

    Anmol Ghadi is a contender for my favorite Hindi film of all time. Admittedly, it is most of all because of the other Noor, but those childhood scenes are delightful. On YouTube, a question popped up from someone asking, could someone please tell me who the child actors are in that wonderful song? (By the way, I am also a fan of Shamshad Begum and Zohrabai.) And it was a long time before anyone answered – that anyone being yours truly. But now I can’t remember the name of the actor who played the boy… I just remember Noor!

    Happy birthday, Noor!

  7. Oh, somebody else in another YouTube posting asked about the girl in that song – i.e., who is she, and “what happened to her?” So, I just explained, and I mentioned the tribute on this blog.

  8. A very interesting post indeed.
    The boy with Noor ji,in the song of Anmol Ghadi is M.KABEER(now the father of actress Sonam).

    • Arunji, I can’t see an M Kabeer listed in the credits for Anmol Ghadi… could it N Kabir? By the way, for Sonam, IMDB lists that she is the niece of Raza Murad – so does that mean N Kabir was Raza Murad’s brother? (Of course, the relationship could have been on Sonam’s mother’s side of the family).

      • My info is based on Shamshad geet kosh.
        Sonam(Bakhtawar khan) is daughter of Mushir Khan Kabir,niece of Raza Murad,Grand-niece of Murad and cousin of actress Sanober Kabir.
        Although the name that features in the credits is N.Kabir,it could be a mistake-instead of M.Kabir.
        Shri Surjit Singh ji has also commented in RMIM that the boy is M.Kabir.

        • Although the name that features in the credits is N.Kabir,it could be a mistake-instead of M.Kabir.

          I just had a look at the credits, on a Youtube clip. Yes, they do look like ‘M Kabir’. The resolution’s not very good, so can’t be sure, but you’re probably right.

  9. Ah, lovely! Always wonderful to read guest posts (not that the host’s posts are not worth reading). :-)

    Now I need to see Aar Paar. I last saw it ages ago – all the songs are of course pretty popular. I didn’t know the name of the lady with Johnny Walker in the “na na tauba tauba” song – now I do. She is so pretty – and it is great to know that she and Johnny Walker were husband-wife in real-life. I didn’t even know that Shakila and Johnny Walker were related in any way.

    I just listened to “chhota sa ghar hoga” just now – after a long time. I used to hear it a lot long back (I had a Kishore Kumar cassette). I’d seen the video earlier today but again could not identify the lady. What a sweet song it is.

    Thanks so much for this post, Tasneem – and wish your mom a very happy birthday.

    • Chhota sa ghar hoga used to be played in our house too when I was younger – from what I remember, my parents have an LP with the song on it. But I hadn’t seen it until Tasneem reminded me of it through this post. Lovely song – and now I want to see the film!

  10. A very happy birthday to your mother, Tasneem.

    Thank you, Tasneem, for sharing your mother with us, albeit through the ‘Net. And thank you, Madhu, for hosting this. We did need zindagi following maut.

  11. Our greetings for a happy birthday and a very happy life to Noor.
    Great job by Dustedoff for roping in Tasneem – a wonderful breakthough scoop! And equally great job by Tasneen – of sharing so sensuously all about Noor, which in fact was was news, to me – quite pleasant, at that and brought in so wonderful memories of our own days when we saw these movies first time, when we were of the same age as that of Noor as she apperas in Aar Paar.
    I will have to see these movies, if only for the scenes where we have a dekko of Noor, as a way to keep our wishes as live as her life to come.

    • It wasn’t exactly a breakthrough, Ashokji – because Tasneem (as I’ve mentioned in the introduction to this post) has written guest posts earlier on this blog, when she wrote about her father, Johnny Walker. But I’m very grateful to her for having agreed so readily to write about her mother and her aunt Shakila.

  12. Hi,
    Happy birthday to a truly wonderful lady!
    And wish you many more returns.
    Enjoy your day, dear,
    Coz you are the person who deserves it all, the best :)

  13. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing your information and feelings about your mother, Tasneem. And thanks for making this possible, dustedoff.

  14. Happy birthday Noor, and my compliments to Tasneem for the beautiful write up and Dustedoff for posting it. I always remembered the face of the girl child in Anmol Ghadi song, her face was so arresting. Today when I know the person behind the face, I am delighted. She is fantastic in Aar Paar. Now I will see it again with a special interest. Chhota sa ghar hoga is one of my big KK favourites. Thanks again.

  15. Tom, AK: You’re welcome. :-) And, Tasneem: Thank you once again! I’ve re-read this post all over again, and love it. God bless your mum, and I hope she had a wonderful birthday!

  16. Thank you, dustedoff, for providing this platform to Tasneem for her beautiful tribute to her beautiful and talented mother. My best wishes to the family on this special day.

  17. By the way, we have been wishing Noor, but I would also like to add a word about the great genius actor Johnny Walker, who acted in some wonderful films. Even in his first ever film Baazi he showed his mettle and continued to delight us for years. He had a tiny role in Anand with Rajesh Khanna and what a delight it was to see them together.

    • Sidharth, do have a look (if you haven’t already) at some of the posts Tasneem and her son wrote for Johnny Walker week on my blog a couple of years back. There are some sweet insights there into his life, including his friendship with Mehmood, and his life as an actor and a family man.

    • Bhatiya ji,
      According to an interview of Johnny walker published in the book
      “voh bhooli dastaan” by Subhash chandra Jadhav,Baazi was NOT his first film.His first film,according to him was ” Akhari Paigham or The last message “,released in 1949.
      -Arunkumar Deshmukh

  18. love it all. happy to know about Noor as wife of Johny Walker. I do have some old movies and Anmol Ghari is among them. Love this song especially for the tuk tuk tuk of the hooves of the horses. oh so nice all these old things. thank you very much for this informative. Came here through Dances of the Foot path. Thanks Dances..

  19. THanks a lot dustedoff. This was an awesome post, especially since it comes from someone so close to Johny Walker… Didn’t know that the person in Anmol Ghadi and Aar Paar was Mrs Johny Walker

  20. On behalf of Mum & myself ,Thank You to all who have written with so much love. Mummy says the post & birthday wishes were one of the best birthday gifts ever!! Brightened up her day!!
    Bahut Shukriya,
    Noor & Tasneem Khan

    • I’m so glad this made your mum’s day – it’s about time she got to know how much some of us film-goers who’ve seen Aar Paar (not to mention Anmol Ghadi etc) liked her! Like derubala (and I know I speak for many others), I wish her many happy returns of the day, from the bottom of my heart.

      Thank you for the post, Tasneem!

  21. @bombaynoir: Somehow, Howrah Bridge, besides the awesome songs and the undeniably gorgeous Madhubala, wasn’t the greatest of suspense films, for me. But it’s entertaining enough. And Andaaz is one of my favourite later films of Shammi Kapoor – his acting in it is very good, and it’s a good story too. And some great songs.

    • Yup! Have you seen Singapore?

      I heard that song, “Rasa Sayang Re” on radio and I was like, “What the heck?! o_o” Then I caught Rafi’s voice and almost fainted. :P Actually, “Rasa Sayang Eh” was a song in Malay, and it’s famous in Singapore. We learned that during music class, and I was giggling because “sayang” means “darling”.

      And once my friend was saying, “I’m doing my project on Singapore and I need songs about other countries’ perceptions of it”. I promptly went on YouTube and sent her the link to the song. Then I told her, “Shammi is handsome. Admit it or I won’t translate the lyrics for you.”

      Fun times. :DD

      • Yes, I’ve seen Singapore. Not one of Shammi Kapoor’s best films (it’s too convoluted, and I don’t like Padmini…), but Shammi Kapoor looks gorgeous as ever. I didn’t know Rasa sayang re was based on a Malay song – obviously the lyricist and music director did their homework!

        By the way, as far as perceptions of Singapore in other countries go, perhaps this song from the film is more indicative:

        • Yup! And it did sort of make fun of the trend of having a LOT of kids back then (My grandma has 5 brothers and 3 sisters… no kidding). Now they’re encouraging more kids. >:B

          My grandma and her sisters actually gatecrashed to go see Shammi filming the song! Hahahahaha! They actually got to see Shammi! -jealous as hell- And one of my grandma’s brothers said that my great-grandmother actually drove her car into the song (I’m not sure which – my grandma only said it was at the swimming pool. I’ll find out when I watch the film~). Yes. She’s the type of person to do that.

          One more story about my great-grandmother. Once she drove across the border from Seattle to Canada, and she had this bag of chili powder in her car boot. The officer thought it was drugs or something, and he took a good sniff. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Then his eyes started watering and he started sneezing. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

            • My grand-uncle said that he was probably hoping to get high if it was drugs! HAHAHAHAHAHAA!

              And once my grandma’s brother drove across from Canada to Seattle, and he had a truck. And he had rotis and lamb curry in the back. (There’s some weird rule that you can’t take cooked meat in/out of Canada) So the officers took the dogs and made them jump in every truck and sniff. HAHAHAHA. xD So when it got to my grand-uncle’s truck, it jumped in, sniffed the rotis, got confused, decided that they weren’t drugs, and jumped out. And my grand-uncle was panicking. xDDDDDDDD

  22. Loved the article…very human and touching. I was happy to learn about Noor, but tell you what? Johnny Walker now, he was extraordinary..what timing, what a voice, what expressions and what body language…he was no.!…

  23. That’s very nice of you to share Tasneem thoughts about her mother…Its always so nice to hear from the closed ones, from their perspectives about the cinematic stars…..Please provide me the link to Tasneem’s post on Shakila if possible. And one request, Do you know somebody closed to Guru Dutt, If yes, Please can u have a guest post from him/her. And if no, you can still arrange that right..

    • Tasneem hasn’t yet written her post on Shakila. Keep checking back on this blog! And no, I don’t know anyone close to Guru Dutt… and, really, all the guest posts that have been published on this blog have happened accidentally – I don’t have a single connection to the film industry, otherwise. So I wouldn’t even be able to arrange it.

  24. A good write up by Tasneem on her mother Noor. I remember my first glimpse of her in Aar Paar in the year 1987 during a Gurudutt Week at a nearby theatre. Let me tell you I was very much enamoured by her looks(I was 18 then). She looked so gorgeous! I had never seen here before that. I enquired about who she was and was informed by my aunt that she in Noor the wife of Johnny Walker. Did not know she was Shakila’s sister. Is she the same Shakila “Ek Nazar Ek Muskaan fame”
    Well Best Wishes on her Birthday.

  25. Hi. I have a query about mr.Johnny walker . There is an old movie of his where his name is mr. Baltimore but he ends up being referred to as baltichor. He also dresses up as a woman in this movie. Can someone please help me with the name of this movie?. Thanks.

  26. Was Johnny Walker’s first song Arrey Na na Na Tauba Tauba? If it was, then Noor was very lucky for him because after that he mouthed so many incredible songs….would love to know if this was…thx for a wonderful write-up by Noor and Johnny’s daughter!

  27. Looks like I am pretty late to comment here. However, when I saw the Aar Paar song picturized on Noor, I couldn’t help but wonder who this beautiful talented lady was. Googled thru the internet and got to know she was JW’s better half. She has lovely eyes. Even though she has not acted in many movies, just the one song in Aar Paar has put her in the memory of film buffs…. Convey her my best wishes….

  28. I love Walker Sahib… Lovely person and actor. God bless the soul!!

    Thanks for sharing lovely moments of Mrs. & Mr. Walker.

  29. Madhu ji,

    I was revisiting this page while compiling info on Noor ji and I find it shocking that her own daughter did not know how many films Noor ji worked in.
    I have confirmed names of 16 films in which Noor ji has worked and her name appears in credits of all these films. The films are-
    Anmol Ghadi-46 credited as Noor mahal
    Dard-47 credited as Noormahal
    Khubsurat-52 hereafter all films mention her name as Noor only.
    Do Bigha Zameen-53
    Noor mahal-54
    Mast qalandar-55
    Shahi Chor-55
    Sakhi hatim-55
    Heer-56 and
    Chand ki duniya-59
    The last two films might have had delayed releases.
    This is only to keep you informed.

  30. salam

    very very sorry to hear the sad demise of shakilaji, allpk janntul firdaus meain aala mukham de;aamin summa amin; pls write down about nasreen….wikkepedia and shakila husband too,

  31. Iread about Noor aunty ,ilove reading about old film actors Wikipedia,I wanted to see the I age of this beautiful woman,a loving mother who brought her children in a simple mannerwith her husband,god bless the family

  32. Wow
    BEAUTIFUL blog
    Beautiful info
    Beautiful family
    Good to know about Noor ji and what a beautiful dedication from daughter
    Be blessed

  33. I was googling Johny Walker and chanced upon this post.
    I have seen Noor on screen and she was stunning but could not spot that it was this very same Noor in ‘Chhota sa Ghar hoga’. In a very de-glamourized role.
    An effortless natural actress and yes aptly named. Her luminescence glowed on the screen too.
    An update on the family would be most welcome.

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