Comedy icon Johnny Lever, in an interview, says there is no longer a requirement for his brand of humour in Bollywood films. He also said that insecure actors demanded that they be given comic scenes as well, to avoid a scenario where he, Johnny, would walk away with all the adulation. And as a result, the presence of comic relief characters became negligible.
In an interview with ETimes, Johnny cited the example of his breakout film, the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Baazigar. He said that the film ‘didn’t have a writer’, which meant that he had to come up with all the comedy scenes himself. And he did it, thanks to ‘youthful exuberance’.
Asked why he doesn’t appear in as many films as he used to anymore, he said in Hindi, “I turn down work because the writing is bad these days. You speak of Baazigar… That film had no writer, it was just me. I came up with all the punches. Those were good days, we used to work hard. But these days, we don’t have (comedy) writers. It’s like, ‘Johnny bhai will handle it’. That’s not how it works. We need a blueprint first.”
He continued, “Comedy was given respect back in the day. These days, there’s hardly any comedy in movies. Back in the day, I used to get such a positive response, my scenes would become the highlight of the movie. Sometimes, the heroes would feel threatened and my scenes would be edited. They used to watch how the audience would react to my scenes, and feel insecure. They started asking writers to come up with comedy scenes for them, as well. The writers would start distributing comedy scenes. And my roles became smaller and smaller, which is what you’re seeing now. Comedy is gone.”
He said that very few directors still value comedy in their movies. But otherwise, he said, heroes and villains are all being funny these days. There is no requirement for comic relief from actors like him. He most recently appeared in Cirkus, directed by Shetty.