To bring Johnny Walker Week to a close, a post from his daughter Tasneem Khan, about a friendship whose depth few people were aware of. Over to Tasneem:
Thank you very much for Johnny Walker week. Celebrating his life’s journey I would like to take this opportunity to highlight an uncelebrated friendship cherished by Dad (Abba) and his so called ‘rival’ and ‘adversary’. Everyone knows about Dad’s heartfelt and profound friendship with Guru Dutt ji, Dilip (uncle) Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Naushad (uncle), Mohd. Rafi (uncle), just to name a few. But there is one name that is never mentioned, that is of Mehmood uncle.
Two thespians, two reigning comedians of their time, two absolutely brilliant individuals however, also, two very good friends unlike what most people believed. They shared brotherly love and high esteem for each other and respected each other tremendously. In a flashback, all the memories come to my mind to remind me of all the good times, celebrations, Eid parties, movie trials, and family grief shared by both our families.
Mehmood uncle was Dad’s well wisher. He was inspired by Dad’s achievements and success. He looked up to him with great admiration. Mumtaz Ali, father of Mehmood uncle had told him on his deathbed “Once I am gone do not think I am no more, as Johnny will be your Godfather”. This incident was disclosed to me by Mehmood uncle himself. Those words just add more depth to the relationship they shared and the camaraderie between them. Dad and Mehmood uncle’s families shared glorious years of friendship including the good times and the bad.
As time passed, with age came illnesses. Due to ailing health, dad was bedridden and one day Mehmood uncle called him from the U.S. to speak to him. Upon hearing dad’s frail voice he started crying. Dad kept on saying “Beta, ro mat (don’t cry)”. Mehmood uncle was so touched by Dad’s love for him he said “Johnny Bhai is so sick, but he is consoling me. Bhaijaan you are great, mere pyaare Johnny Bhai”. After Abba’s death Mehmood Uncle would call up and talk about the good old days with Johnny Bhai. Sometimes he would weep for him and at times just call to say “Today I prayed for Johnny Bhai, I miss him”.
We were great family friends with other comedians like Maruti, Agha, Mukri, Jagdeep. All were from the same competitive profession. Dad respected their work and in return he won their adulation. His spirited soul and big heartedness earned him a lifetime of friendships that flowed through to us children who attempt to continue those relationships with their children.
I am fortunate that these family friendships did not die with the legends passing away but are kept alive through their children.