Johnny Lever (born John Prakash Rao Janumala;[1] 14 August 1957[2]) is an Indian actor and popular comedian who is known for his works in Hindi cinema. He is one of the first and most recognised comedians in India.[3] He is the recipient of numerous accolades, including thirteen Filmfare Awards nominations in Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Comic Role, and has won the award twice, for his work in Deewana Mastana (1997) and Dulhe Raja (1998). He began his career in 1984, and has acted in more than three hundred Hindi films.[4][5]

Johnny Lever
Lever in 2012
John Prakash Rao Janumala

(1957-08-14) 14 August 1957 (age 66)
Other namesJohny Lever
  • Actor
  • comedian
Years active1975–present
Sujatha Lever
(m. 1984)
Children2, including Jamie
RelativesJimmy Moses (brother)

Early life edit

Lever was born on 14 August 1957 in a Telugu Christian family[1][6] in Prakasam, Andhra Pradesh.[2] His father worked as an operator in Hindustan Unilever plant where he also worked as a labourer for six years.[7] Lever was brought up in King's Circle area of Dharavi in Mumbai. His mother tongue is Telugu and is fluent in Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi, English, Marathi and Tulu.[8] He is the eldest in the family consisting of three sisters and two brothers (including his younger brother Jimmy Moses).

Lever studied in Andhra education society English high school until the seventh grade as he could not study further because of financial problems in his family.[9] As a result, he decided to leave school and started working odd jobs, such as selling pens on the streets of Mumbai by mimicking some famous Hindi film stars of that time and dancing to the songs of Hindi film stars. He also spent his early years in Yakutpura, an old city of Hyderabad, where he learnt the unique style of comedy acting.[10]

During a Hindustan Unilever company function, he mimicked a few senior officers, and from that day on, the workers said he is Johnny Lever. When he later joined the film industry, he decided to use Johnny Lever as his screen name.[11]

Career edit

Stand-up comedy career edit

He started to perform stand-up comedy in musical shows (orchestras), Tabassum Hit Parade and after earning fame, joined the group of Kalyanji-Anandji, a music direction duo. Lever is one of the first stand-up comedian in India and widely regarded as pioneer of stand-up comedy profession in India.[12][13] Even before joining Hindustan Unilever (HUL), he was giving stage performances. Because of his growing absenteeism and since he was earning well from stage shows, he quit HUL in the year 1981. He did a lot of shows and world tours with them, one of his first big tours being with Amitabh Bachchan in 1982. At one of his shows, actor Sunil Dutt noticed his talent and potential and offered him his first movie Dard Ka Rishta.

He recorded a comedy cassette called Hasi Ke Hangame which gave him recognition at homes via the audio mode. During this period, he also did a few commercials for Kachua chhap incense, directed by Shekhar Kapur. In 1986, he performed in a charity show Hope 86 in front of members of the Hindi film industry as a filler. His talent was recognized, which resulted in producer Gul Anand offering him the film Jalwa, alongside Naseeruddin Shah.[14][15]

Film career edit

1980s edit

Lever got his first break in Tum Par Hum Qurban, in which the famous TV and stage compère and yesteryears actress Baby Tabassum launched her son Hoshang Govil as the leading man, and then with the film Dard Ka Rishta, thanks to Tabassum and the late Sunil Dutt. Since then, he has acted in more than 350 films including films such as Tezaab, Kasam, Khatarnak and Kishen Kanhaiya . After Dard Ka Rishta, he was seen in Jalwa, Hero Hiralal with Naseeruddin Shah.

1990s edit

His first major success came with Baazigar, and after that he was seen in movies as a supporting actor/comedian. Despite being busy with his movie roles, he continued to do live shows. One of his most memorable live performances was an impersonation of Michael Jackson at the 1999 Filmfare Awards. His most acclaimed performance was the character of "Babulal" in the film, Baazigar, directed by Abbas-Mustan[citation needed]. He is also remembered for some of his other famous characters, like "Chotta Chattri", "Aslam Bhai", etc.[16]

Johny Lever being awarded during the 4th edition of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Nobel Awards 2019.

2010s edit

He also acted in a Tulu movie, Rang.[17] His first Tamil feature film was Anbirkku Alavillai released in 2011.[18] He also starred in a Kannada film, Gara.[19]

Television career edit

Lever's first appeared in an episode of sitcom Zabaan Sambhalke as Johnny Utolandand in 1993.[20] Lever also appeared on Zee TV in his own show, Johny Aala Re.[21] In 2007, he appeared as a judge on the stand-up reality show Comedy Circus.[22] In 2017 Lever joined the cast of Partners as Commissioner Googol Chatterjee.[23]

He is the president of MAAM (Mimicry Artist Association Mumbai), and has done thousands of live shows all over the world.[24]

Personal life edit

He married Sujatha Lever in 1984 and has two children Jamie and Jessy.[25] His younger brother, Jimmy Moses, is also a comedian and mimicry artist.[26]

Lever is a practicing Christian. When asked about his transition, Lever replied:

It was God's will. I had always been a religious person, but one incident changed my life. My son was diagnosed with throat tumor. I was helpless and turned to God for help. I stopped working in films and spent all my time praying for him. Ten days later, when he was taken for a test, the doctors were surprised because the cancer had vanished. It was the beginning of a new life for me.[27]

Filmography edit

Films edit

Denotes films that have not yet been released

As playback singer edit

List of Johnny Lever film singing credits
Year Title Song Notes
1989 Chaalbaaz "Bhoot Raja"
1995 Ravan Raaj "Tu Cheez Badi Hai Sakht Sakht"
1998 Achanak

As dubbing artist edit

List of Johnny Lever film voiceover credits
Year Title Actor Notes
1996 Hindustani Senthil

Television shows edit

List of Johnny Lever television shows and roles
Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1993 Zabaan Sambhalke Johnny Utolandand Episode 29 [20]
2006 Johny Aala Re Host/presenter [21]
2007 Comedy Circus Himself (Judge) [22]
2017–2018 Partners Trouble Ho Gayi Double Gogol Chatterjee/Khabri Murgai Double role [23]
2023 Pop Kaun? Brij Kishor Trivedi

Awards and nominations edit

Year Category Work Result
Filmfare Awards
1994 Best Performance in a Comic Role Baazigar Nominated
1996 Karan Arjun Nominated
1997 Raja Hindustani Nominated
1998 Deewana Mastana Won
Judaai Nominated
1999 Dulhe Raja Won
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai Nominated
2000 Anari No.1 Nominated
2001 Kunwara Nominated
Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani Nominated
2002 Ajnabee Nominated
2003 Humraaz Nominated
2004 Koi... Mil Gaya Nominated
IIFA Awards
2001 Best Performance in a Comic Role Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani Nominated
2002 Ajnabee Nominated
2004 Koi... Mil Gaya Nominated
2010 De Dana Dan Nominated
Indian Television Academy Awards
2018 Best Actor - Comedy Partners Trouble Ho Gayi Double Nominated
Producers Guild Film Awards
2018 Best Actor in a Comic Role Housefull 2 Nominated
Screen Awards
1997 Best Comedian Raja Hindustani Won
2002 Ajnabee Nominated
2003 Awara Paagal Deewana Nominated
2011 Golmaal 3 Nominated
Zee Cine Awards
2002 Best Actor in a Comic Role Love Ke Liye Kuchh Bhi Karega Won
2004 Koi... Mil Gaya Nominated

See also edit

  • List of Indian comedians
  • List of stand-up comedians
  • Johny Aala Re

References edit

  1. ^ a b चैहान, Jitesh Arpan Chauhan जीतेश सिंह (1 February 2015). "Dalits in Indian cinema". Forward Press. Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b Saxena, Akanksha (14 August 2020). "'Tum jiyo hazaaron saal': Netizens wish 'king of comedy' Johnny Lever on his birthday". Times Now. Retrieved 14 July 2021. On August 14, 1957, Lever was born in a Telugu Christian family in Andhra Pradesh's Prakasam.
  3. ^ Shyam Benegal; William Van Der Heide (12 June 2006). Bollywood Babylon: Interviews With Shyam Benegal. Berg. pp. 196–. ISBN 978-1-84520-405-1. Archived from the original on 11 October 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  4. ^ "Comedy is serious business: Johnny Lever". The Hindu. 7 January 2009. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  5. ^ Awaasthi, Kavita (3 March 2012). "Johnny Lever feels his talent is under-utilised". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 9 December 2021.
  6. ^ "VHP threatens agitation against actors Nagma, Johnny Lever". 10 December 2013. Archived from the original on 22 March 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Johny Lever: In the film industry, there is dosti but no dost". Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  8. ^ "Find Bollywood Actor Johnny Lever Filmography, Movies, Pictures and Videos". Archived from the original on 7 January 2012. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  9. ^ ""Try Jesus" – Johnny Lever (Film Actor)". His Prayer House. Archived from the original on 25 October 2014. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  10. ^ "Interview: "I have learnt a lot from the UK" – Johnny Lever | Bollywood News UK". 13 May 2012. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  11. ^ "This johnny's levered to fame". Indian Express Newspaper (Bombay) Ltd. Archived from the original on 25 October 2014. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  12. ^ "17 Unknown Facts About Johnny Lever, The King Of Comedy".
  13. ^ "Happy Birthday Johny Lever: The Ultimate Comedy King - ABP LIVE".
  14. ^ "Johnny Lever on Phalke Awards". Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  15. ^ "Johny Lever: The missing comic in Hindi films | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". 9 October 2011. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  16. ^ "Johnny Lever Filmography". Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  17. ^ "Mangalore: Popular comedian Johnny Lever shoots for Tulu movie". daijiworld. Daijiworld Media Pvt Ltd Mangalore. Archived from the original on 29 July 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  18. ^ "Anbirkku Alavillai To Promote Marriage Counselling". Archived from the original on 10 July 2012.
  19. ^ "Comic relief – The Hindu". The Hindu. 15 March 2019.
  20. ^ a b "Zabaan Sambhalke – Episode# 29 – Goondaraj – Best Tv Show". 11 October 2015. Archived from the original on 11 October 2020. Retrieved 30 March 2020 – via YouTube.
  21. ^ a b "Johny Aala Re, Bollywood comedian Johnny Lever, Zee TV show on Sify Max". Sify. Archived from the original on 19 November 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  22. ^ a b "Sony innovates 'Comedy Circus'". 26 June 2007. Archived from the original on 11 March 2013. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  23. ^ a b "Johny Lever to make his TV debut with Partners. Here's everything to know about the show". The Indian Express. 27 October 2017. Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  24. ^ "14th August 1957: Popular Bollywood Actor and Comedian Johnny Lever is Born -". What Happened on This Day in History - Maps of India. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  25. ^ "Johnny Lever's kid is college fest fave". 14 August 2010. Archived from the original on 12 April 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  26. ^ "Johnny Lever, Bollywood Johnny Lever, Johnny Lever Movies". 7 January 1950. Archived from the original on 27 May 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  27. ^ John, Ali (17 April 2012). "Johnny Lever turns preacher". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 1 March 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  28. ^ "Lantrani Movie Review: Johnny Lever, Jitendra Kumar Wasted In Sincere Yet Half-Baked Anthology". TimesNow. 9 February 2024. Retrieved 18 February 2024.
  29. ^ "Akshay Kumar shares hilarious 'Welcome 3' teaser on his birthday, film to release in December next year". The Times of India. 9 September 2023. ISSN 0971-8257. Retrieved 10 September 2023.
  30. ^ "Welcome 3 Announcement: Akshay Kumar, Raveena Tandon, Disha Patani And Others - It's A Party". Retrieved 10 September 2023.

External links edit