Meet Johnny Lever’s daughter: she’s as gorgeous as she is funny! | brunch$feature | Hindustan Times
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Meet Johnny Lever’s daughter: she’s as gorgeous as she is funny!

Jamie Lever is a multitalented hottie!

brunch Updated: Jun 27, 2017 18:02 IST
Anil Sadarangani
I always hear ‘You are very funny’. Nobody calls me pretty, says Jamie Lever (Styling: Trisha Djani)
I always hear ‘You are very funny’. Nobody calls me pretty, says Jamie Lever (Styling: Trisha Djani)(Soumya Iyer)

Twenty nine-year-old Jamie Lever’s photographs might have you do a double take, especially when you learn that this stunning lady is veteran Bollywood comedian Johnny Lever’s daughter. Maybe because she looks nothing like him. That is until she does a killer impression of her funny dad, then she looks like a younger version of him!

“Are you calling me good-looking? People don’t give me such compliments. I always hear ‘You are very funny’ or ‘I like the way you make weird faces’. No one says you are pretty,” laughs Jamie. Don’t blame us for gushing over a fine-looking comedian, blame comedy. “In comedy, people expect you to joke about your weight if you are fat. You use your body as your main content. Which is fine. People get laughs for it, but I didn’t want to be in that category. I wanted people to hear what I had to say.” Which is ironic because now, her looks are distracting anyway. To which Jamie lobs a rejoinder, “People still comment on how heavy I look on stage!”

Working overtime to establish her independent identity and comic style on stage has always been at the centre of Jamie’s emergent career. If not looking for acceptance as a female comedian, there was always the shadow of her father that blocked the spotlight from shining on her. Jamie doesn’t mind the latter. “He’s worked in the industry for so long. I feel it’s my responsibility to entertain his audience but also create my own niche,” she says.

“In real life, my dad (Johnny Lever) is nothing like his goofy on-screen characters. He is a strict, conservative South Indian dad.”

Never in their wildest dreams did Jamie, nor her father, think she would become a comedian. “In real life, my dad is nothing like his goofy on-screen characters. He is a strict, conservative South Indian dad. Growing up, our mother kept us away from the film world he worked in. He wanted me to not only complete my graduation but do a post graduation, get a good job, and settle down,” she says. She convinced Lever to send her to London to do a post graduation in marketing communications but really, “I just wanted to get away from everything.”

From computers to comedy

The realisation that she belonged in front of the camera dawned on her while studying and working in London. After college, she would hit the comedy clubs. “I realised I could do what those guys were doing,” she recalls. Soon, she found herself working as a sales person for a London-based market research company.

Johnny Lever and daughter Jamie have done over 150 live shows together. (Photo courtesy: SONY)

“I would cry daily because I was chained to a desk and computer. But many of my workmates were pursuing their creative passions like rapping and modelling, and that gave me hope. Then I got a chance to act in a small, local play and realised I love performing. I had won awards for extra-curricular activities my whole life. When my dad visited London for a show, I told him, petrified, that I wanted to do stand-up. He decided to give me a chance to perform with him at his show, but warned me that his was a paying audience and he never gave them a bad performance. I had to audition. It was my litmus test. After I performed on stage with him, someone from the audience shouted,‘Johnny bhai, yeh toh aap se bhi zyaada jayegi. Bach ke rehna.’ He told me to return to Mumbai and pursue comedy,” recalls Jamie.

Her dad became her mentor and together so far, they have done over 150 live shows. She’s also broken out into television, currently hosting the talent hunt show Sabse Bada Kalakar on Sony and is getting offers for dramatic roles, which she is excited about.

Mimicking the mimic

Right now though, her impression of her dad is to die for. What people don’t know is that when she was asked to impersonate her father on TV for the first time on Comedy Circus in 2013, she didn’t know how to mimic him. “I never observed him growing up because I never thought I would be in this position! People were shocked. So another mimicry artist had to teach me my father’s moves!” There’s only one thing to say to this absurdity: “Anarkali ka phone tha, ice cream khana zaroori hai!”

Jamie’s favourite Johnny Lever roles

*Babulal (the butler) from Baazigar (1993)

*The detective from Baadshah (1999)

*Photographer from Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain (1999)

*Daler Mehndi impersonation from Anari No. 1 (1999)

Her favourite Johnny Lever dialogue

Anarkali ka phone tha, ice cream khana zaroori hai

— as Babulal from Baazigar

From HT Brunch, June 25, 2017

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