I. S. Johar

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I. S. Johar
Born(1920-02-16)16 February 1920
Died10 March 1984(1984-03-10) (aged 64)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
OccupationActor, director, producer, writer
Years active1931–1984
Spouse(s)Ramma Bains (divorced), Sonia Sahni and three others

Inderjeet Singh Johar [1] (16 February 1920 – 10 March 1984), [2] better known as I. S. Johar, was an Indian actor, writer, producer and director, who excelled in comedic roles.


Early life

Johar was born on 16 February 1920, in Talagang (now within modern-day Pakistan), British India. He did an MA degree in Economics and Politics before completing his LLB. [1] In August 1947, during the Partition crisis, Johar was visiting Patiala, Punjab with his family for a wedding, when serious rioting broke out in Lahore resulting in the Shah Alami Bazaar, once the largely Hindu quarter of the Walled City, being entirely burnt down. [3]

Johar never returned to Lahore. For a period he worked in Jalandhar while his family remained in Delhi, [4] before he eventually moved to Mumbai (Bombay), where he made his acting debut in the 1949 Hindi comedy action film Ek Thi Ladki . [5]


Johar acted in numerous Hindi films from the 1950s through to the early 1980s and appeared in international films such as Harry Black (1958), North West Frontier (1959), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) [6] and Death on the Nile (1978), besides acting in Maya (1967), a US TV series. He also appeared in Punjabi films, including Chaddian Di Doli (1966), Nanak Nam Jahaz Hai (1969) with Prithviraj Kapoor, and Yamla Jatt with Helen. [7]

I. S. Johar also wrote and directed films, including the partition-based Hindi movie Nastik (1954), Johar Mehmood in Goa and Johar Mehmood in Hong Kong, in which he co-starred with comedian Mehmood. These were inspired by comedy films of the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby style Road to... series. [8] Johar was a unique and idiosyncratic individual, a lifelong liberal who poked fun at institutionalised self-satisfied smugness – an attitude which did not endear him to the essentially hierarchical and conservative Indian establishment, and led to difficulties finding finance for his unconventional screenplays. In many of his films, both those he directed and those he acted in, Sonia Sahni was the leading lady, most notably in Johar Mehmood in Goa, 1964.

He also starred in films with his own surname in the title such as Mera Naam Johar, [9] Johar in Kashmir and Johar in Bombay, which is a testament both to his immense egotism, as well as his popularity with the common masses – for whom a movie with the Johar name was a guarantee of easy laughs, as well as subtle ironic or frankly sarcastic jibes at Indian customs, mores, superstitions and institutions. His film Nasbandi (Vasectomy) was a spoof on Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's failed policy of population control by coerced vasectomies during the period of Emergency and was "banned" when it was first released. In the plays written by him too, Johar attacks those in power. In a play on Bhutto, he writes about Pakistan's Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as well as Gen Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq. [10] Yash Chopra started his film career as an assistant director with I. S. Johar. [11]

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 died in Mumbai, on 10 March 1984. [1]

Personal life

Johar married Ramma Bains in 1943 in Lahore. The couple became parents to two children, a son named Anil and a daughter named Ambika. [4] Both his children worked in a handful of films in the late 1970s, including Nasbandi (1978) and 5 Rifles featuring both of them. Ramma Bains herself acted in small roles in a couple of films, most notably as Balraj Sahni's cunning sister in Garam Hawa.

Johar and Ramma were divorced; theirs was one of the earliest legal divorces in the country. [12] After this divorce, Johar married and divorced no less than four more women (five marriages in all, and as many divorces). One of his later wives was the actress Sonia Sahni, who had made her film debut in Johar's production Johar-Mehmood in Goa (1965). None of Johar's later marriages was blessed with children.

I.S Johar was not related to Yash Johar.

Awards and nominations

1959 British Academy Film Awards Best British Actor Harry Black Nominated
1971 Filmfare Awards Best Performance in a Comic Role Johny Mera Naam Won
1974 Aaj Ki Taaza Khabar Nominated



Badhti Ka Naam Daadhi (1974)


1952 Shrimati Ji
1954 Nastik Shashadhar Mukherjee
1955 Shri Nagad Narayan
1956Hum Sab Chor Hain
1957 Kitna Badal Gaya Insaan
1957Miss India
1960 Bewaqoof Self
1965 Johar-Mehmood in Goa Self
1966 Johar in Kashmir
1971 Jai Bangladesh
1974 5 Rifles Self
1978 Nasbandi Self

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