Inder Sen Johar, better known by his initials as, I. S. Johar, was a well-known Indian actor, writer, producer and director of his time. He was famous for putting his name in the title of his movies; like in movies Mera Naam Johar, Johar in Kashmir, Johar in Bombay, Johar Mehmood in Goa and Johar Mehmood in Hong Kong. He also worked in a few top Hollywood films. He was active for more than three decades in the Hindi film industry, till his death in 1984.
I. S. Johar was born on 16 February 1920, in Talagang in British India, which after partition is now in Pakistan. His education took place in Lahore. For a film actor, he was very highly educated. He did his MA in Economics and Politics; and then completed his LLB. In 1947, during the Partition of India, Johar was in Patiala with his family to attend a family wedding. At that time, riots broke out in Lahore. He and his family were unable to return to Lahore. He began working in Jalandhar, while his family stayed in Delhi. Later he shifted to Bombay (now Mumbai) and met Roop K. Shorey, in whose movie Ek Thi Ladki (1949) he made his acting debut.
I. S. Johar acted in several Hindi films from the early 1950s till his death in 1984. He also played cameo roles in well-known Hollywood films such as Harry Black (1958), North West Frontier (1959), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Death on the Nile (1978) based on Agatha Christie’s novel besides acting in Maya (1967), a US TV series.
In 1963, he starred as “Gopal” in two Italian films directed by Mario Camerini: “Kali Yug, la dea della vendetta” (Kali Yug, Goddess of vengeance) and “Il Mistero del tempio indiano” (The secret of the Hindu temple).
He also appeared in Punjabi films, such as Chaddian Di Doli (1966), Nanak Naam Jahaaz Hai (1969) in which he worked with Prithviraj Kapoor, and Yamla Jatt with Helen.
I. S. Johar also produced his own films. He also wrote and directed his films. His most notable film was the partition-based Hindi movie Nastik (1954). He also made comedy films of the Hollywood Bob Hope-Bing Crosby style “Road to…” series. His movies Johar Mehmood in Goa and Johar Mehmood in Hong Kong, in which he co-starred with comedian Mehmood; were inspired by the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby movies. I. S. Johar also made and starred in films which were eponymous and had his name in the title; such as Mera Naam Johar, Johar in Kashmir, Johar in Bombay etc. This showed his confidence and utter disregard to the prevailing cinematic norms. His name in the film guaranteed fun and laughter and were hugely popular with the masses.
Some of the noteworthy films in which he acted were:
- Hum Sab Chor Hain (1956)
- Teen Devian (1965)
- Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya (1966)
- Shagird (1967), Raaz (1967)
- Pavitra Paapi (1970)
- Johny Mera Naam (1970), in which he played triple role
- Safar (1970), Chhoti Bahu (1971)
- Tangewala (1972), Dastaan (1972)
- Aaj Ki Taaza Khabar (1973)
- Banarasi Babu (1973)
- Joshila (1973)
- Badhti ka naam daadhi (1974)
- Ganga Ki Saugandh (1978)
- Gopichand Jasoos (1982)
- Teesri Aankh (1982) and many more…
During the Emergency years of India, he produced a film Nasbandi which meant vasectomy and was a satirical look at the forced vasectomy of Indians to control the population during Emergency when fundamental rights of citizens were suspended. This film was banned by the Indian government headed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Another of his earlier films Jai Bangladesh on 1971 Indo-Pak War was also banned.
His films were like Charlie Chaplin movies, which evoked lots of laughter and mirth. At the same time, were satirical and poked fun at the Indian customs and decadent superstitious ways of society.
Johar was an enigmatic, unique and idiosyncratic individual. It was difficult to understand him as an individual. He had a secular and liberal attitude. He had married five times. Sonia Sahni was his last wife and the leading lady in many of his films. The noted Indian film director Yash Chopra started his film career as an assistant director under I. S. Johar.
I. S. Johar married Ramma Bains, in 1943 when he was in Lahore. They had a son, Anil Johar; and a daughter, Ambika Johar. Later the couple divorced. His son Anil Johar and daughter Ambika Johar appeared in some films in the late 1970s, including Nasbandi (1978) and 5 Rifles.
He died in Bombay, on 10 March 1984, at the age of 64. He was a jovial person by disposition, who was friendly to all. His death was mourned by the film fraternity and cine-goers alike.
Quotes by Inder Sen Johar
“People are destined to be robbed … the rich rob the poor, the businessmen rob their customers and the politicians rob their people … everyone robs everyone … this has been happening in the age of vice and this will continue on…”
– Lines from one of his movie
Written By: Raj Kumar Hansdah