Johnny Lever is a famous Indian actor and comedian. He is known to be one of the first stand-up comedians in India. He had acted in more than 400 films and is regarded as the ‘King of Comedy of Bollywood.’
Johnny Lever was born as ‘John Prakash Rao Janumala’ on Wednesday, 14 August 1957 (age 66 years; as of 2023) in the Kanigiri town of Andhra Pradesh. His zodiac sign is Leo. He grew up in Mumbai’s King’s Circle area (Dharavi). He studied Andhra Education Society English High School till class 7 but left his studies due to the financial crisis in his family. He started working at the age of 12. Johnny started doing odd jobs such as selling pens on the Mumbai streets by imitating Bollywood stars and dancing to the songs of Bollywood stars. He also spent early years of his life in the Yakutpura City of Hyderabad, where he learned the unique style of comedy acting.
Height (approx.): 5′ 5″
Eye Colour: Black
Hair Colour: Black
Family, Caste & Wife
Johnny belongs to a Telugu Christian family. His father, Prakash Rao Janumala was an operator at Hindustan Lever Ltd. (now Hindustan Unilever) plant. His mother’s name is Karunamma Janumala. He has three younger sisters and two brothers; one of them being Jimmy Moses, who is an actor, singer, stand-up comedian and mimicry artist.
Johnny got married to Sujatha Lever in 1984. The couple has a son named Jessey Lever (actor and musician) and a daughter named Jamie Lever (stand-up comedian and actress).
As A Stand-Up Comedian
Johnny Lever worked as an employee at Hindustan Lever Ltd. (now Hindustan Unilever). During that time, he started performing stand-up comedy in musical shows and events.
After he gained recognition, he joined the troupe of Kalyanji-Anandji. Since he was earning well from stage shows, he quit Hindustan Lever in 1981. He did lots of shows and world tours with them; one of the big ones being with Amitabh Bachchan in 1982. In 1986, he did a charity show “Hope 86,” as a filler, in front of the members of the Indian Film Industry. His talent was recognised, and producer Gul Anand offered him a role in the film Jalwa, alongside Naseeruddin Shah.
He made his acting debut with the film “Yeh Rishta Na Toote (1981).”
During one of his stage shows, Johnny was spotted by Sunil Dutt, who gave him the chance to work in the movie “Dard Ka Rishta (1982).” His major success came with the film “Baazigar (1993)” in the role of ‘Babulal.’
His most memorable roles are- “Chotta Chattri”, “Aslam Bhai,” “Hiralal,” “Col. Almeida, Camp Manager,” and “Pappi Bhai.” He made his Pakistani film debut with the “Love Mein Ghum” in 2011. He made his debut with the 2011 Tamil film “Anbirkku Alavillai.”
He made his Tulu debut with the film “Rang” in 2014.
He made his Gujarati debut with the film “Pappa Tamne Nahi Samjaay (2017)” and Kannada debut with the film “Gara (2018).”
Johnny made his television debut with the sitcom “Zabaan Sambhalke.”
He played the role of ‘Johnny Utolandand’ in the 29th episode of the show. The show aired from 1993 to 1998 on DD Metro. He hosted the show “Johny Aala Re (2006),” which aired on Zee TV. In 2017, he played the lead role of ‘Commissioner Gogol Chatterjee/Khabri Khogol Chatterjee/Phogol Chatterjee (triple role)’ in the Sab TV’s show “Partners Trouble Ho Gayi Double.”
Johnny recorded a comedy cassette “Hasi Ke Hangame” which made him a household name in India.
During this period, he did a few advertisements for “Kachua Chhap incense.” He made his singing debut with the song “Bhoot Raja” from the film “Chaalbaaz (1989).”
He judged the comedy reality show “Comedy Circus” which aired on Sony TV in 2007.
- On December 1998, he was sentenced seven days of imprisonment for disrespecting the Constitution of India and National Anthem of India at the birthday party of Anis Ibrahim’s son in Dubai.
- In 2013, the Vishva Hindu Parishad and its militant youth wing, Bajrang Dal, India Today threatened to launch agitation against Johhny Lever; alleging him of propagating Christianity and evangelising Hindus. They claimed that Johny had published an 18 stories Booklet, which consisted of the stories of experiences of the people with Christianity. These organisations added that if he didn’t stop, they would organise ‘Hawan’ in Johnny’s house.
- In 2019, a video of Johnny Lever’s stand-up act from an event went viral in which he was seen making jokes on Salman Khan‘s hit-and-run case and making fun of his driving skills.
- Filmfare Best Comedian Award for the film “Deewana Mastana” in 1997
- Filmfare Best Comedian Award for the film “Dulhe Raja” in 1998
151/152 Oxford Tower,
Yamuna Nagar, Lokhandwala
Andheri West, Mumbai
- Music Director: Kalyanji-Anandji
- Comedian: Charlie Chaplin
- Actor(s): Mehmood, Johny Walker
- Song: “Main To Tum Sang Nain Mila Ke” from the film “Man-Mauji (1962)”
He owns an Audi Q7.
- He likes doing mimicry, watching movies, and listening to music.
- He started mimicry after watching one of his neighbours do it.
- At the age of 13, he got so exhausted of dealing with problems of his life that he decided to end his life by coming in front of a train. As he stood on the railway track, he thought about his family and their well-being and decided that he would not die and fight from his problems.
- While working at Hindustan Lever Ltd., Johnny performed at a function there, where he mimicked his few senior officers. The workers there were impressed by him, and their Union leader Sudesh Bhosle gave him the name Johnny Lever. When he later joined the film industry, he decided to keep that name.
- He is a practising Christian. He preaches every Sunday in different parts of Mumbai, Chennai, and also the US. When Johnny was asked about his faith, he 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.”
- Once, his father had a paralytic attack, while Johnny was shooting. His family had no way to contact him as there were no mobile phones at that time. The family waited for his return from his work, and when he did, it was already too late; as his father’s leg had to be amputated. He regards that day as the most regretful one in his life.
- He is a philanthropist and likes working for various social causes.
- He considers Kishore Kumar and Mehmood as his biggest inspiration for comedy.
- He loves solving crossword puzzles. He begins his day by solving crossword puzzles and has been doing this for years.
- According to Johnny Lever, sad events don’t make him cry, but happy moments does. He described it with an incident- it was when his sister died; he came to know of the news just before his show was about to get started. He did his show and then returned to his home to pay homage to his sister.