Johnny Lever

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Johnny Lever
Lever in 2012
John Prakas Janumala[1]

(1957-08-14) 14 August 1957 (age 66)
Years active1975–present
SNK Lever
(m. 1984)
Children2 (Jessey Lever & Jamie Lever)
RelativesJimmy Moses (brother)

Johnny Lever (born John Prakash Rao Janumala; 14 August 1957) is an Indian actor and popular comedian who is known for his works in Hindi cinema. He is one of the first stand-up comedians in India.[2] He is the recipient of numerous accolades, including thirteen Filmfare Awards nominations in Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Comic Role, and has won the award twice, for his work in Deewana Mastana (1997) and Dulhe Raja (1998). He began his career in 1984, and has acted in more than three hundred Hindi films.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Lever was born on 14 August 1957 in a Telugu Christian family[1][5] in Prakasam, Andhra Pradesh.[6] His father worked as an operator in Hindustan Unilever plant where he also worked as a labourer for six years.[7] Lever was brought up in King's Circle area of Dharavi in Mumbai. His mother tongue is Telugu and is fluent in Bengali, Hindi, English, Marathi and Tulu.[8] He is the eldest in the family consisting of three sisters and two brothers (including his younger brother Jimmy Moses).

Lever studied in Andhra education society English high school until the seventh grade as he could not study further because of financial problems in his family.[9] As a result, he decided to leave school and started working odd jobs, such as selling pens on the streets of Mumbai by mimicking some famous Hindi film stars of that time and dancing to the songs of Hindi film stars. He also spent his early years in Yakutpura, an old city of Hyderabad, where he learnt the unique style of comedy acting.[10]

During a Hindustan Unilever company function, he mimicked a few senior officers, and from that day on, the workers said he is Johnny Lever. When he later joined the film industry, he decided to use Johnny Lever as his screen name.[11]


Stand-up comedy career[edit]

He started to perform stand-up comedy in musical shows (orchestras), Tabassum Hit Parade and after earning fame, joined the group of Kalyanji-Anandji, a music direction duo. Lever is one of the first stand-up comedian in India and widely regarded as pioneer of stand-up comedy profession in India. [12][13]Even before joining Hindustan Unilever (HUL), he was giving stage performances. Because of his growing absenteeism and since he was earning well from stage shows, he quit HUL in the year 1981. He did a lot of shows and world tours with them, one of his first big tours being with Amitabh Bachchan in 1982. At one of his shows, actor Sunil Dutt noticed his talent and potential and offered him his first movie Dard Ka Rishta.

He recorded a comedy cassette called Hasi Ke Hangame which gave him recognition at homes via the audio mode. During this period, he also did a few commercials for Kachua chhap incense, directed by Shekhar Kapur. In 1986, he performed in a charity show Hope 86 in front of members of the Hindi film industry as a filler. His talent was recognized, which resulted in producer Gul Anand offering him the film Jalwa, alongside Naseeruddin Shah.[14][15]

Film career[edit]


Lever got his first break in Tum Par Hum Qurban, in which the famous TV and stage compère and yesteryears actress Baby Tabassum launched her son Hoshang Govil as the leading man, and then with the film Dard Ka Rishta, thanks to Tabassum and the late Sunil Dutt. Since then, he has acted in more than 350 films including films such as Tezaab, Kasam, Khatarnak and Kishen Kanhaiya . After Dard Ka Rishta, he was seen in Jalwa, Hero Hiralal with Naseeruddin Shah.


His first major success came with Baazigar, and after that he was seen in movies as a supporting actor/comedian. Despite being busy with his movie roles, he continued to do live shows. One of his most memorable live performances was an impersonation of Michael Jackson at the 1999 Filmfare Awards. His most acclaimed performance was the character of "Babulal" in the film, Baazigar, directed by Abbas-Mustan[citation needed]. He is also remembered for some of his other famous characters, like "Chotta Chattri", "Aslam Bhai", etc.[16]

Johny Lever being awarded during the 4th edition of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Nobel Awards 2019.


He also acted in a Tulu movie, Rang.[17] His first Tamil feature film was Anbirkku Alavillai released in 2011.[18] He also starred in a Kannada film, Gara.[19]

Television career[edit]

Lever's first appeared in an episode of sitcom Zabaan Sambhalke as Johnny Utolandand in 1993.[20] Lever also appeared on Zee TV in his own show, Johny Aala Re.[21] In 2007, he appeared as a judge on the stand-up reality show Comedy Circus.[22] In 2017 Lever joined the cast of Partners as Commissioner Googol Chatterjee.[23]

He is the president of MAAM (Mimicry Artist Association Mumbai), and has done thousands of live shows all over the world.[24]

Personal life[edit]

He married Sujatha Lever in 1984 and has two children Jamie and Jessy.[25] His younger brother, Jimmy Moses, is also a comedian and mimicry artist.[26]

Lever is a practicing Christian. When asked about his transition, Lever replied:

It was God's will. I had always been a religious person, but one incident changed my life. My son was diagnosed with throat tumor. I was helpless and turned to God for help. I stopped working in films and spent all my time praying for him. Ten days later, when he was taken for a test, the doctors were surprised because the cancer had vanished. It was the beginning of a new life for me.[27]



Denotes films that have not yet been released
List of films and roles
Year Title Role Notes
1982 Dard Ka Rishta Joseph
1986 Love 86 Uttam
Main Balwaan
1987 Jalwa Muthu (The Masseur)
1988 Ghar Main Ram Gali Main Shyam Srivastav's Servant
Hatya Blacksmith
Aakhri Adalat Havaldar
Hero Hiralal Police constable
Tezaab Munna's Friend
1989 Suryaa
Mujrim Shankar's PA
Jaadugar Nilkant
Kala Bazar Kutti Chai Walla
ChaalBaaz Johny Baba Tantrik Special appearance
Main Azaad Hoon Protester Uncredited
1990 Kafan
Khatarnak Police inspector Marathi film
Bandh Darwaza Special appearance
Kishen Kanhaiya Lobo
1991 Ajooba Kudrat Ka
Vishnu-Devaa Havaldar No. 1
Narsimha Tempo Dada
1992 Jungle Ka Beta
Geet Milan Ke Gaate Rehenge
Khiladi Anna Pillai
Humla Shiva's Friend
Chamatkar Cricket Commentator
1993 Insaniyat Ke Devta Muthuswamy
Teri Payal Meree Geet
Yugandhar Bala
Aasoo Bane Angaarey
Anari Bablu
Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja Sub Inspector Rang Birangi
Anmol Himself Special appearance
Santaan Kalia
Baazigar Babulal Nominated- Filmfare Best Comedian Award
Aulad Ke Dushman Johny
Game Jaggu
1994 Masti
Zamane Se Kya Darna
Kanoon Lakhiya
Anjaam Champa Chameli
Saajan Ka Ghar
Ekka Raja Rani Guruji (Dance master)
Juaari Salim Tension
Prem Yog
Main Khiladi Tu Anari Dhansukh
Criminal Special appearance; shot in Telugu and Hindi languages
Yaar Gaddar Police Inspector
Mr. Azaad
1995 Inteqam Ke Sholey
Karan Arjun Linghaiyya Nominated- Filmfare Best Comedian Award
Rock Dancer Police Inspector
Ram Shastra Reporter Raja
Haqeeqat Tony
1996 Jaan Damru
Hahakar Chamcha
Daraar Hari
Bhishma Natwar
Sapoot Deva
Raja Hindustani Balvant Singh Won- Screen Award for Best Comedian

Nominated- Filmfare Best Comedian Award

Jeet Piajee
Dushman Duniya Ka Headmaster
1997 Jodidar Agarbatti / Pens / Bangles / Sarees salesman
Ghunghat Pandit Vishwanat
Judaai Hiralal Nominated- Filmfare Best Comedian Award
Auzaar Peter
Kaalia Khan Dada
Himalay Putra Joe
Agni Morcha
Koyla Shanker's Friend
Do Ankhen Barah Hath Rickshaw Walla
Yes Boss Madhav Advani, aka MAD
Judge Mujrim Havaldar Amar Lokhande, Akbar Charsi, Anthony Bhai & Mother
Krishna Arjun Rocky
Mr. and Mrs. Khiladi Bandaged patient on street
Deewana Mastana Ghafoor Won- Filmfare Best Comedian Award
Ishq Ranjit's brother-in-law
1998 Barsaat Ki Raat
Yeh Aashiqui Meri
Miss 420 Tony Fernandes
Do numbri Damru
Ustadon Ke Ustad
Aakrosh: Cyclone of Anger Gopi
Keemat: They Are Back Sub-Inspector Ultappan/Kirappan
Aunty No. 1
Mard Bindas
Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai Mahesh
Achanak Joni/Moni/Toni Kapoor
Dulhe Raja Bankhey (Hotel Manager) Won- Filmfare Best Comedian Award
Kareeb Bighe Laal
Iski Topi Uske Sar Gabbar Singh/Mogamba/John Lobo
Barood Presenter
Tirchhi Topiwale Kadak K. Pillay
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai Col. Almeida, Camp Manager Nominated- Filmfare Best Comedian Award
Soldier Mohan/Sohan
Wajood Inspector Rahim Khan
1999 Heeralal Pannalal Heeralal (Double role)
Ganga Ki Kasam
Dulhan Banoo Main Teri Jack
Munnibai Kammal Khan
Benaam Munna Mobile
Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain Sunny Goyal
Daag-The Fire Sundar
Laawaris Gaflet
International Khiladi Focus
Anari No. 1 Daler Mehndi Nominated – Filmfare Best Comedian Award
Silsila Hai Pyar Ka Johny
Sirf Tum Niranjan
Baadshah Ramlal
Hello Brother Havaldar Hatella
Hum Tum Pe Marte Hain Sattu
Khoobsurat Natwar Guest Appearance
Jaanwar Bajrangi
2000 Krodh Prem
Hadh Kar Di Aapne Father/Son Lawyer Team
Tera Jadoo Chal Gayaa Maggi
Meri Jung Ka Elaan
Beti No. 1 Mulayamchand 'Mullu'
Kaali Topi Laal Rumaal Nanhey
Kunwara Gopal Nominated- Filmfare Best Comedian Award
Mela Inspector Pakkad Singh
Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai Inspector Parab Special appearance
Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge Tour Manager Chirkund
Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani Pappu Junior Nominated- Filmfare Best Comedian Award
Badal Gulel Singh Rangoli
Dil Hi Dil Mein College Professor Jack Hindi dubbed version
Hum To Mohabbat Karega Kutti
Joru Ka Ghulam Kanhaiya
Deewane Okay
Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai Chatterjee
Fiza Laughing Club Comic
Shikari Jafrani Sindhi Businessman
Aaghaaz Rajni Deva
Raju Chacha Jaddu
2001 Farz Informer named 'Taxi'
Chori Chori Chupke Chupke Pappu Bhai
Censor Vikramjeet's First Assistant
Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega Aslam Bhai Won- Zee Cine Award for Best Actor in a Comic Role
Nayak TV Cameraman Topi
Ajnabee Banu Pradhan (B.P.) Nominated- Filmfare Best Comedian Award
Dial 100
Asoka Magadha Soldier
Arjun Devaa
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham Haldiram extended special appearance
Aamdani Atthani Kharcha Rupaiyaa Appu Khote
2002 Ankhiyon Se Goli Maare Subramaniam
Yeh Dil Aashiqanaa
Yeh Mohabbat Hai Jaggi
Tumko Na Bhool Paayenge Pakhandee Baba
Angaar – The Fire
Badmash No. 1
Pyaar Diwana Hota Hai Paresh Chaval (Painter)
Awara Paagal Deewana Chhota Chhatri
Humraaz Mr. Darshan Nominated- Filmfare Best Comedian Award (extended guest appearance)
Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani Parwana
Yeh Kaisi Mohabbat Paajal
Annarth Ben Bose, Music Director
Kehta Hai Dil Baar Baar Natwar
Karz – The Burden of Truth Juggi
Chalo Ishq Ladaaye
2003 Kucch To Hai Popatlal
Khushi Milestone
Kaash Aap Hamare Hote Native Indian Black Face
Indian Babu Mr. Patel/Principal "Patel Bond 008" Special appearance
Kaise Kahoon Ke Pyaar Hai Sandwich
Andaaz G. I. Joe
Chalte Chalte Nandu (The Roadside Drunkard)
Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon Johnny
Aisaa Kyon
Koi Mil Gaya Chelaram Sukhwani Nominated- Filmfare Best Comedian Award
Janasheen Johnny Chen
2004 God Only Knows! Road Babe
Hatya: The Murder Paid Mourner
Aabra Ka Daabra Maneklal
2005 Meri Biwi Ka Jawab Nahin Chitra Gupta
Padmashree Laloo Prasad Yadav Yadav
Navra Maza Navsacha Nepali Passenger Marathi Film (Guest Appearance)
Khullam Khulla Pyaar Karen Pashabhai
Deewane Huye Paagal Murgan
2006 Aisa Kyon Hota Hai?
Banana Brothers
Saawan... The Love Season Akhil Rao
36 China Town KK
Phir Hera Pheri Munna
2007 Fool n Final Puttu Pilot
2008 Thela No. 501
Race Max (The marriage bureau chief) Special appearance
Konchem Koththaga Thief Telugu film; special appearance
Khallbali: Fun Unlimited
Nidar – The Fearless
Aap Jaisa Koi Nahin
Mr Tikdambaaz
Paying Guests Ballu Ji
2009 Dhoondte Reh Jaaoge Parvej Asharraf 'Champa'/Daku Rabbar Singh
All the Best: Fun Begins Tobu
Aao Wish Karein Hitchchock
De Dana Dan Kala Krishna Murari
2010 Dulha Mil Gaya Krish
Bhavnaon Ko Samjho Vivaah Marriage Bureau
Prem Kaa Game Ramnik Chedda
Khatta Meetha Award Anshuman
Golmaal 3 Pappi Bhai
2011 Love Mein Ghum Sukhia Pakistani film
Yamla Pagla Deewana Jeweller
Anbirkku Alavillai Johnny Bhai Tamil film
Masti Express Veerubhai
Bin Bulaye Baraati Sajjan Singh
Tell Me O Khuda Pandurang P.
2012 Players MC
Chaar Din Ki Chandni Paan Singh
Housefull 2 Vishwas Patil
Deewana Main Deewana Husband
Khiladi 786 Inspector Bhalerao Kambli
2013 Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 Bunty
Boss Zorawar Singh
Singh Saab the Great Gulwinder
Enemmy; Law And Disorder CID Officer Eric Collaco
2014 Entertainment Habibulla
My Father Godfather Director (Special Appearance)
Rang Guest Role Tulu film
2015 Dilwale Mani Bhai
2016 Santa Banta Pvt Ltd Chooza
2017 Machine Darpan Gopal
Pappa Tamne Nahi Samjaay Gujarati film
Judwaa 2 Pappu Passport
Golmaal Again Pappi Bhai
2018 Gara Kannada film
2019 Total Dhamaal Raju
Housefull 4 Winston Churchgate
2020 Coolie No.1 Inspector Jagjit Godbole
2021 Hungama 2 Tutor Gagan Chandra D'Costa
2022 Cirkus Polson Dada
Jaysuk Zdpayo Mansukh Gujarati film
2023 Bad Boy Poltu
Aflatoon TBA Marathi film
2024 Welcome To The Jungle Filming[28][29]

As playback singer[edit]

List of songs
Year Title Song Notes
1989 Chaalbaaz "Bhoot Raja"
1995 Ravan Raaj "Tu Cheez Badi Hai Sakht Sakht"
1998 Achanak

As dubbing artist[edit]

Year Title actor Notes
1996 Hindustani Senthil

Television shows[edit]

List of television shows and roles
Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1993 Zabaan Sambhalke Johnny Utolandand Episode 29 [20]
2006 Johny Aala Re Host/presenter [21]
2007 Comedy Circus Himself (Judge) [22]
2017–2018 Partners Trouble Ho Gayi Double Gogol Chatterjee/Khabri Murgai Double role [23]

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role Platform Notes
2023 Pop Kaun? Brij Kishor Trivedi Disney+ Hotstar

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Category Work Result
Filmfare Awards
1994 Best Performance in a Comic Role Baazigar Nominated
1996 Karan Arjun Nominated
1997 Raja Hindustani Nominated
1998 Deewana Mastana Won
Judaai Nominated
1999 Dulhe Raja Won
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai Nominated
2000 Anari No.1 Nominated
2001 Kunwara Nominated
Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani Nominated
2002 Ajnabee Nominated
2003 Humraaz Nominated
2004 Koi... Mil Gaya Nominated
IIFA Awards
2001 Best Performance in a Comic Role Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani Nominated
2002 Ajnabee Nominated
2004 Koi... Mil Gaya Nominated
2010 De Dana Dan Nominated
Indian Television Academy Awards
2018 Best Actor - Comedy Partners Trouble Ho Gayi Double Nominated
Producers Guild Film Awards
2018 Best Actor in a Comic Role Housefull 2 Nominated
Screen Awards
1997 Best Comedian Raja Hindustani Won
2002 Ajnabee Nominated
2003 Awara Paagal Deewana Nominated
2011 Golmaal 3 Nominated
Zee Cine Awards
2002 Best Actor in a Comic Role Love Ke Liye Kuchh Bhi Karega Won
2004 Koi... Mil Gaya Nominated

See also[edit]

  • List of Indian comedians
  • List of stand-up comedians
  • Johny Aala Re


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External links[edit]