Friday marks the birth anniversary of actor Johnny Walker who is best known for his roles in popular films such as Mere Mehboob, CID, Pyaasa and Chori Chori. He made his acting debut with Guru Dutt’s Baazi in 1951 and continued to feature in popular films through the next two decades. (Also read: Amitabh Bachchan shares throwback pic with Hindi and Bengali actors)
Born as Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, he was working as a BEST bus conductor when actor Balraj Sahni noticed some of his antics during a ride. Balraj decided to introduce him to filmmaker-actor Guru Dutt.
Author Dinesh Raheja wrote in a Rediff.com article in 2003, “Balraj suggested that Badruddin try his luck with Guru Dutt. Badruddin dropped in on the sets and behaved like a drunken gatecrasher. A visibly impressed Guru Dutt instantly signed him on for a bit role in Baazi and rechristened him Johnny Walker after the popular whisky brand. He has given some of the best comic scenes as a drunkard but Johnny was a teetotaller throughout his life.
An article in The Print said that the filmmaker was in a serious discussion with actor Dev Anand over their film Baazi (1951), when Badruddin turned up on the set as a ‘drunkard’ and kept tripping on things, causing confusion and laughter. Soon, he straightened up revealing he was only acting. “Guru Dutt was fascinated and the episode bagged Badruddin his first break with Baazi.”
His last silver screen outing was Kamal Haasan’s Chachi 420 in 1997. He played Kamal’s friend and makeup artist in the film that also featured Tabu, Amrish Puri and Om Puri in important roles. Johnny’s role of Joseph was essayed by Nagesh in the original – KS Ravikumar’s 1996 Tamil film Avvai Shanmugi.
Johnny died in 2003 after prolonged illness at his Mumbai residence at the age of 79.
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