The Sancho Panza of Hindi Cinema: Johnny Walker

One of the actors whom one has not ceased to admire since childhood is Johnny Walker.

What I admire about him is his natural impishness, and despite not so handsome looks, a felicity to bring a certain effusiveness on the screen whenever he made an appearance. In an age when the hero of the film was more often than not a tragic one like Dilip Kumar, or the disillusioned one like Guru Dutt, generally wallowing in unrequited love or unrequited idealism, if not not both, he provided the more earthly, and sometimes hedonistic, perspective on life, and an always disarming laughter.

If the heroes bore the mantle, as they did in my view, of Don Quixote, Johnny Walker was the eternal plebian, the Sancho Panza- helping out the hero when he was in trouble because of some damsel, the one who managed to hoodwink the villain (generally Pran) and bring in police or reinforcements, not caring about principles when trying to help his friend, the hero- and always playing the archetypal true friend who more often than not managed to find his own love of life in the end, in case he was already not a hen- pecked husband to Tun Tun.

It is not out of place either when his biting sense of humour could provide an insightful look into contemporary society. Balraj Sahni quotes Johnny Walker in this 1972 speech addressed to the students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University and re- printed recently:

“They should not announce ‘Ab Hindi main samachar suniye’, the announcers on the radio should say ‘Ab samachar main Hindi suniye'”

This one comment on the news bulletins on government of India owned radio of those days says a lot on the language politics in India.

Incidentally, Johnny Walker’s whose real name was Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi had been discovered by Balraj Sahni.

I was reminded of Johnny Walker after reading Rama’s post on Pyaasa.

A few clips of some of the well known songs, in the very mellifluous voice of Mohammad Rafi.

Update: I just found this one. Were it not for Johnny Walker, this would be a very sad song indeed. Just his presence turns the mood of the song upside down.

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2 thoughts on “The Sancho Panza of Hindi Cinema: Johnny Walker

  1. Nice 🙂 I was just on a sar jo terA TakrAye trip the last week.It’s really refreshing to hear that song when coming back from work.As you say Johny walker does bring a natural felicity.The video makes sense and I can believe the story of why Guru Dutt christened him Johnny Walker

  2. Frankly, while watching a Johnny Walker movie, to me he is the central character- with his pragmatism and feet on the ground, while the muddled heroes go about with their head in the skies.

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