Johnny Lever with a six-pack? Here’s Jesse Lever, the comedian’s strapping young son | brunch$feature | Hindustan Times
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Johnny Lever with a six-pack? Here’s Jesse Lever, the comedian’s strapping young son

After the HT Brunch story on Johnny Lever’s daughter broke the Internet, here’s a quick meet with his son

brunch Updated: Jul 10, 2017 11:17 IST
Anil Sadarangani
Instead of doing stand-up comedy, Jesse Lever wants to focus on drama and music.
Instead of doing stand-up comedy, Jesse Lever wants to focus on drama and music.(Esli Darla)

The son of Bollywood’s most famous comedian is tall, dark, handsome and hopes to shine in dramatic roles. In a profession where children often follow in their showbiz parents’ footsteps, that Johnny Lever’s son Jesse does not want to be a funny man, is unexpected. “Initially, I thought I should only do comedy and stand-up, like dad. But when I started doing stand-up, all my acts flopped! On the other hand, I bagged many best actor awards when I acted in serious roles in college plays. I decided to focus on drama and music,” says the 27-year-old actor, singer and drummer.

Comic timing

Jesse is considering acting offers coming his way but is waiting for the right role and film. (Ssumier Pasricha)

As with his elder sister Jamie, showbiz was not a profession his dad wanted him to pursue initially. But when Jesse announced that he wanted to quit studies after his Class 12 exams and assist in the movies, Lever Sr did not oppose. Perhaps Jesse’s health scare as a young boy, when he developed a tumour on his neck, made his father give into his every wish. “Not true. My parents always insisted we learn the hard way,” refutes Jesse.

“But assisting had to wait because Jamie persuaded me to complete my graduation. I changed my plan and I’m glad I did because it was during degree college that I realised I love acting,” he recalls. He got to do comic roles such as playing the ghost of Veerappan and serious roles of a soldier and a murderer. Jesse always had a performer’s streak in him. As a kid, he’d do Michael Jackson routines.

“In 2011, I decided that after my board exams I would learn acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York. But just before the boards, I felt this plan was not exciting anymore and decided to pursue higher studies abroad. I wanted to meet new people and get new experiences, like Jamie,” says Jesse. So, he went to London and got himself a masters degree in human resource management.

However, when he returned to India, he jumped at the chance of assisting his good friend and neighbour, filmmaker Punit Malhotra on his film Gori Tere Pyaar Mein! (2013). “At the end of the film, Punit felt that I had learned enough behind the scenes. I should now focus on acting because he knew I wanted to act,” says Jesse.

Jesse’s favourites of Johnny Lever
  • Dialogue: “Anarkali ka phone tha, ice-cream khana zaroori hai” from Baazigar (1993).
  • Film: I like his work in Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Kareeb (1998) because it is totally different. He has some emotional scenes too.
  • Role: Chhota Chhatri from Awara Paagal Deewana (2002)

A smarter act

With his dad’s blessings, Jesse plunged head first into preparing as an actor. When he took drama, dancing and singing classes, he chose not to reveal his lineage. “I wanted feedback for my work, not for my industry connection,” he reasons. “I am also very aware that my dad will not launch me. I have to work hard and give screen tests,” he adds.

Comedy is not completely ruled out. “Maybe I will come to it later,” he says. After all, mimicry seems to run in this family, with Jamie fast becoming a name to reckon with in comedy. And if that is not evidence enough of a funny gene running in the Lever family, consider the fact that Jesse has been mimicking people since he was a kid. “When I was four, I would accompany dad to his live shows. Back stage, I would mimic the manner in which the musicians from his live band walked and talked. Later, while assisting Punit, I would mimic everyone on the set, from the DOP to my colleague Parzaan Dastur,” he says.

Currently, even as he assists his dad in research for his live acts, Jesse is considering acting offers coming his way but is waiting for the right role and film. “I want to surprise the audience,” says the 5’10, six-pack-sporting body-builder. And body building is part of his act. “I want to be different from my dad. Imagine dad with a six pack!”

From HT Brunch, July 9, 2017

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