Mirroring The Industry: Johnny Walker, Mehmood and the missing comic artists in Bollywood films

Updated on Jul 30, 2021 11:03 AM IST  |  146.2K
   
Mirroring The Industry: Johnny Walker, Mehmood and the missing comic artists in Bollywood films (PIC: Bollywood Direct/Twitter)
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Back in the golden era of Bollywood, the screenplay of a feature film often had multiple parallel tracks – from hero to villain and of course, a special one for comic artists. The comedians were often treated as the hero of a film, getting an independent song as also a mention on the poster. Two artists who left a mark in the comic world include Johnny Walker and Mehmood, who are considered the finest actors of Hindi cinema. Most Bollywood films were incomplete without their presence.

The concept of a parallel track for comedians continued to a certain extent in the 90s too, with actors like Johnny Lever and Kader Khan bringing the laughs, however, ever since the advent of multiplex era, the same has gone missing. Writer-director Rumy Jafry explains, “Back in the past, every actor had a specific singer too. Even that has gone away. The formula of making films in the past was clear, the hero would romance and fight, the villain would bring the conflict and the comedian would entertain the audience. Johnny Walker and Mehmood were great actors. But since the hero has started doing comedy, the USP of comic artists has gone away. After Johnny Walker and Mehmood, Johnny Lever is the last standing comic artist. People write a role thinking of his persona.”

The concept of a parallel track for comedians continued to a certain extent in the 90s too, with actors like Johnny Lever and Kader Khan bringing the laughs, however, ever since the advent of multiplex era, the same has gone missing
Pinkvilla

The writer director goes down the memory lane and shares a lesser-known trivia about Johnny Walker, who died on July 29, 2003. “He always wanted me to write his autobiography. He told me a lot of incidents, but I was very busy with my writing assignments. I kept delaying the process of writing and one day, he left us. That’s the biggest regret of my life. I have a recording a lot incidents of his life, which I will always keep close to my heart,” Rumy informs that Johnny Walker was a huge star in his own right. “He had his own radio talk show wherein he used to answer all the questions asked by the audience. And his letter box was flooded with requests from the fans.”

It was Rumy’s dream to work with Johnny Walker, however, things never worked out. “I once asked him to make a comeback to acting. He refused and said that a person climbs mount Everest not to stay there, but return back safely. If he stays at the top, he would be frozen. I have done my work, and now it’s up-to others now to take things forward,” he adds. The Johnny Walker and Mehmood era was followed by Kader Khan, Johnny Lever, and Paresh Rawal, with Rajpal Yadav being among the last of the comic artists in Hindi cinema. Call it a coincidence, but both Johnny Walker and Mehmood passed away in the month of July – July 29, 2003 and July 23, 2004 respectively.

I once asked Johnny Walker to make a comeback to acting. He refused and said that a person climbs mount Everest not to stay there, but return back safely. If he stays at the top, he would be frozen. I have done my work,
Rumy Jafry

While the concept of a comic track continues to be strong in the Southern Cinema with actors like Brahmanandam, and Priyadarshi among others continuing to rule to roast. Do you miss the comic track in Hindi cinema? Do let us know!

Also Read| Mirroring The Industry: Satellite and digital deals, risk free business model & death of content in Bollywood

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Comments
Anonymous : Yes- absolutely.
REPLY 0 1 month ago