08 May, 2021

Return Of The Wit

At 73, the legendary Johnny Walker, Bollywood's subaltern Fool, is back

Return Of The Wit
Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi — 'Johnny Walker' as he named himself after a thorough investigation of the booze hierarchy — attempts to swing onto a cycle. Forty years ago when he was the Black and White philosopher-buffoon of Hindi cinema he could turn a mean trick or two on this chariot of the Indian workforce. "I used to drink tea on a cycle and even hold the handlebars with one hand and pedal with the other," he brags. "I even got an award for slow cycling where you come first if you come last! Nice, isn't it? I like that."

He grins and suddenly the thin old man in fading colour recedes from vision and there stands Johnny Walker as he used to be. The gentle balladeer of social change on the streetcorner, the happy-go-lucky footpath jokester who kept audiences humming in empathy even as the heroes got on with the more conventional business of Tragedy. "Few people have had as much fun in life as I've had," he chuckles, seated under a jamun tree in his untidy rambling bungalow strewn with the debris of a riotous grandson. Shikaar with Shammi Kapoor-"we went all over...

More from Sagarika Ghose

Latest Magazine

May 17, 2021

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section