When Johny came to town...

Comeback


Ever since his first film Dard Ka Rishta, comedian, John Prakasa Rao Janumala, popularly known as Johny Lever has made his presence felt in more than 350 films.  Movies were his entire life, but when he felt his family needed him more, he left and suddenly, there was a void with no comedian being able to take his place. Recently, with Rohit Shetty’s All The Best he made a comeback after eight years. “I looked at my wife and really appreciated all the different roles she was performing in her daily life. I looked at my self and wondered if the only role I was doing was that of a hero’s chamcha. I needed a break and wanted to reconnect with my family and life, and re-energise,” he says. So can we call this his second innings? He laughs, “I think one can call it ‘back to pavilion’.”

The gap surely has not changed anything in terms of his film career and the series of offers, like De Dhana Dhan, Aao Wish Kare, Dulha Mil Gaya, only prove the same. “It has been difficult to adjust to new-age directors as their way of working is different from what I was used to,” says Johny, who has also seen a change where comedy is concerned.

“I have seen humour evolving from a traditional thali, a wholesome meal at its own pace, to fast food. Now, more people prefer a vada-pav, a burger and coke. So there is a need for improvisation,” he adds. However, he regrets, that in the process, clean humour has been overshadowed by ‘vulgarity’.

“But people laugh at the dialogues with a double-meaning too. So I guess we have to live with it,” he says. This sure does not mean that he will change himself for what the market demands. “I have never and will never get into double meaning humour. I believe clean humour is more powerful and it is upto us, as comedians, to bring it out,” he says.
Versatility in humour is what he has seen down South, and Johny says that most of his inspiration has come from here. “I think some of the greatest comedians have come from South India. I watch so many regional channels and thoroughly enjoy the comedians,” he explains.

So why not act in a South Indian film? “I am originally from Andhra Pradesh but I have never acted in a Telugu movie. I would love to act in Kannada movies. Unfortunately, I don’t know the language which is very important in comedy,” he says.

Johny has big dreams and hints that his ‘second innings’ will see him as a producer. Another thing that all are looking forward to is the launch of his son Jassie. “He is such a bright and enthusiastic kid. I can’t wait to show him off to the world, not as a comedian but as a hero,” he signs off.

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