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Comedy not a joke, one has to cross many hurdles: Johnny Lever

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

Regarded as one of the top comedians of even today, Johny Lever says though it is tough for comic actors to survive in films, he has managed to sustain so far as he always stayed focused.

"It's a simple life that we live. I focus on my work while some people unnecessarily complicate life. By the grace of God we didn't do that - we walked in the present remembering our past, so your focus in always on work.

"Comedy is a very difficult thing to do. To do comedy, there are so many hurdles one has to cross. We are here even today because we worked hard and didn't lose focus," Lever says in an interview with PTI.

Starting his career with smaller roles in films in the 80s, Lever got wide spread acclaim with the 1993 Shah Rukh Khan starrer "Baazigar" and went on to position himself as the quintessential comic actor.

In there was a trend of adult humour but the 60-year-old actor always stayed away from it.

"Talent is given by God but you should respect it by doing good work. In the shows I do, there are no double meaning or vulgar dialogues. You require hard work in writing good, clean material.

"Why would you spread 'gandagi' (filth)? I can't do that at all, that's not my job. People have come to me for double meaning roles but I have flatly refused."

He reveals there was a time when he even did films for the sake of friendship.

"Earlier in films, I used to take on any offers. I used to help friends who asked me to do a few scenes because then the distributors would love it, the film will do well. I never said no, helped everyone. I used to tell myself, 'a day would come when I'll work according to my will'. I have started doing that, in the last 15 years specially."

Lever who still remains a go-to comedian to feature in films has recognisably cut down on work, especially TV shows, with his last being "Johnny Aala Re" in 2007.

He says there were offers coming his way to do television shows, but not all of them were great.

"When (popular comedian) Kapil Sharma's (TV) show was working, I got so many offers to do a similar show! Everyone wanted me to do a show like that. I told them, what's the point of doing a similar show?

"There will be competition, comparisons, why repeat the same formulae? If I like it I will do it. So offers are there, but I am choosy," he says.

He returns to the small screen in the comedy show "Partners Trouble Ho Gayi Double" on SAB TV. On the show, he will be seen in a double role playing a police commissioner and his twin who happens to be a 'khabri' (informer).

"Paritosh Painter (the director) of the show is a dear friend so I knew he would make good use of me. If you work on a show and you're not utilised well then you feel sad. This is a show with rich writing," he adds.

While he awaits the response of his new TV show, the actor marvels at how even the younger generation today recognises his work, which is a big award for him.

"I feel very happy that young kids, aged four-five, recognise me. What is a bigger award than this? This is all God's grace that the younger generation knows me, recognise my work. I am very happy.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, December 03 2017. 17:55 IST