Inder Sen Johar (16 February 1920 – 10 March 1984), better known as I. S. Johar, was an Indian actor, writer, producer and director, who excelled in comedic roles.
Inderjeet Singh Johar was born on 16th February, 1920 in Talagang City, Talagang Tehsil, Jhelum District, Punjab Province, British India (now within modern-day Chakwal District, Punjab, Pakistan). He did an MA degree in Economics and Politics before completing his LLB. In August 1947, during the Partition of India, Johar was visiting Patiala 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.
Johar never returned to Lahore. For a period he worked in Jalandhar while his family remained in Delhi, before he eventually moved to Bombay, where he made his acting debut in the 1949 Hindi comedy action film Ek Thi Ladki.
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) 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.
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. 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, 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. 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).
He died in Bombay, on 10 March 1984.