Johnny Lever is making a return to the small screen with a show titled Partners – Trouble Ho Gayi Double which will air on SAB TV. As a 90s kid, I have a lot of pleasant memories associated with the man.
A lot of his scenes are still fresh in my memory. Like that scene from Karan Arjun, where he pretended that he had seen Karan Arjun, who were killed by Durjan Singh’s (Amrish Puri) men. But later on it was revealed that he hadn’t really seen the Karan Arjun they were talking about, but seen Karan and Arjun the two warriors from Mahabharata. The whole anticlimax nature of the scene had me in splits.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, almost every film had to have a comedian. After all, masala entertainment was the need of the hour, and most directors liked to go with Johnny Lever given his consistency. His comedy too was very physical, you could see him shake and do all sorts of extraordinary stuff with his voice. Mostly, his job was to look like a total idiot, so that the main actor could look great in perspective. It’s something that happens in south Indian movies too, but when it comes to Bollywood, Johnny Lever fit the bill. From 1997-2003, Lever starred in more than 100 films. That’s a testament not just to his comic skill and popularity among the masses, but also to his human side – he ought to be a loved man in the industry to star in so many films.
But if you were wondering where he disappeared, he gave an interview to TOI in 2014 where he confessed, “In 2000, my son Jesse was only ten when he was detected with tumour. That changed my life and it made me forget comedy. I did only one film and one show in one year. It was not financially enough, but I did not want to reduce the money as it lowers your position as an artiste. I felt without my asking, God had brought me to this position, now it is my job to maintain it. I sacrificed both roles and shows, but did not agree to work for less. Even when I started, people would say ‘Jo aa raha hai woh aane do.’ But I did not accept that even then and never accepted a film less than `30 lakhs back even in 2000. I thought I have the talent, I am hard-working and even if I don’t get roles I know how to dig a well and take out water. So I can always go back to doing that. It was never about the ego or being arrogant, but it was always about my self respect and khuddari. Buttering people is not my cup of tea. I have always depended only on myself and khuda ka diya hua talent.”
Hopefully, with this new show, Johnny will find his share of fans from the current generation too. And we’ll see him star in 20 movies per year, again.