Remembering I. S. Johar on his 33rd death anniversary.

Inder Sen Johar (16 February 1920–10 March 1984) better known as I.S. Johar, was an actor, writer, producer, and director.

Johar acted in numerous Hindi films from the 1950s through to the early 1980s and played cameos in international films such as Harry Black (1958), North West Frontier (1959), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) 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 Naam Jahaaz Hai (1969) with Prithviraj Kapoor, and Yamla Jatt with Helen.

Wrote, acted in, and Directed the best partition based Hindi movie Nastik (1954).

I. S. Johar also wrote and directed films, some of which included 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. That being said, Johar was a unique and idiosyncratic individual, a lifelong liberal (if not a libertine: he had five marriages, an extraordinary number by Indian standards, both then and now) who poked fun at all forms of institutionalised self-satisfied smugness — an attitude which did not endear him to the essentially hierarchical and conservative Indian establishment, and might have contributed to being relegated to making B-grade movies all his life, due to a lack of finding financing for his highly individual and quirky 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 Mahmood in Goa, 1964.

He also starred in films with his own surname in the title such as Mera Naam Johar, 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. Yash Chopra started his film career as an assistant director with I. S. Johar.

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).

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