Monday, June 24, 2024
Infotainment

Mimicry of celebs all in good fun stand-up puts my different skills to use: Jamie Lever

Jamie Lever

What do you do when you get an 8 am call from Usha Uthup with the legend screaming ‘I love you!’ in your ears and asking you to mimic her? That’s what happened to stand-up comic and actor Jamie Lever, and Uthup’s wish became her command.
Jamie, a social media sensation with her excellent impersonations of Asha Bhosle, Farah Khan, and Kareena Kapoor Khan, says she has been lucky that celebrities have always taken her mimicry in good spirits.
The comedian, who is currently promoting her comedy gig ‘The Jamie Lever Show’, recounted how Uthup approached her out of the blue.
“Usha Uthup called me at 8 am and I was fast asleep. She said, ‘Darling! I love you!’ I was like who is screaming in my ears and I said ‘Hello?’ She said, ‘Main hoon! Usha! Usha Uthup! I watch all your videos, please mimic me. Why aren’t you mimicking me?’ And that’s how I started mimicking her. What more could I ask?” Jamie, who is the daughter of screen legend Johny Lever, told PTI in an interview.
“Honestly, I have been so lucky. People have always come forward and complimented me… This is all in good fun. People are enjoying it, so it’s worth it,” she added.
Besides doing stand-up and acting, Jamie is a trained Indian classical vocalist and a Bharatanatyam dancer who has also learnt jazz and hip-hop at the Terence Lewis Dance Academy.
During the reading of the 2021 film “Bhoot Police”, the actor, 36, said her co-star Saif Ali Khan came up to her and said “my wife is a big fan of yours”.
It took her a few seconds to register that Saif was talking about Kareena.
“Then, I was like ‘Wait, did he just say Kareena Kapoor is a big fan of mine?’ I couldn’t even fathom that this has happened. He said,’She watches your videos, she really likes you’. I was shocked. I know she knows my dad and Johny Lever is Johny bhai for her. But I’m nowhere close to her circle. The fact that she took my name is big for me,” she added.
Choreographer-filmmaker Farah, is equally supportive, she said.
“She is always complimenting and commenting on my videos. She called me one morning and said, ‘Jamie, what have you done? My husband is sending your videos to my kids, saying ‘Mumma talks like this.’ I love her spirit, she’s such a sport.”
Industry stalwarts Rekha and Javed Akhtar have also praised her, added Jamie.
“Rekha ji has called me and asked me to break down my process of making a video. She said, ‘Break it down for me darling, how do you do it? You wear a sari, you even do make-up?’ She asks me those details.
“Javed Akhtar saab has called me and complimented me especially on my Kangana Ranaut mimicry. He said ‘The way you have caught the nuance of how she says ‘hai’ that’s just too good.’ Every day, I’m amazed,” she said.
While she has never restricted herself to only one skill, the Mumbai-born actor said there was a phase when she was only doing television. Her small screen credits include: “The Kapil Sharma Show” and “Comedy Circus Ke Mahabali”.
“Then, I got bored of it and felt like I’m being repetitive. Sometimes people like to go with the tried and tested. That this works with her so let’s do more of it. It was really becoming monotonous for me. I wanted to break from that cycle. I hosted a lot of red carpets at award shows. Then I switched to social media.”
Stand-up helps her put all her acquired skills to use on one stage, Jamie said.
“I can use all the different skills I have and bring them all together, stitch it up together in a nice stand-up act. All the skills I have acquired from all the various jobs I’ve done whether it’s playing a different character in a different accent in ‘Bhoot Police’, impersonating people in my social media videos or playing Farah Khan on ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’…”
The actor is not new to the stand-up circuit but the two-hour ‘The Jamie Lever Show’ is her first solo stint. She has done almost 300 onstage shows worldwide with small clubs and also toured with her father.
“Four years ago, my father predicted that one day I will have my own Jamie Lever show. So he asked me to start preparing for it. It has taken me a lot of time to gather the courage and confidence. Over the years, I have built the content… It’s from my experiences in mimicry or just being his daughter. I realised I have so much to say, so many of my own observations of people around me,” she added.
“Also, it’s a unique life to have been a funny person’s child. You are not treated normally. People will just look at you and laugh at you like you are a joke. They are like ‘Ae! Johny Lever ki beti!’ I don’t get a normal reaction… That’s been my life. In school, I was made to do plays or jokes because I was Johny Lever’s daughter. I was forced to do all these things…” she quipped.
Jamie, whose last film appearance was sports actioner “Crakk”, is set to make her cinema debut in her mother tongue Telugu with “Aa Okatti Adakku”.
There was a “personal reason” behind taking the plunge into Telugu films, she said.
“I have grown up very close to my roots… I wanted to someday be part of something dedicated to my paternal grandmother, who only understands Telugu… To have her watch it, enjoy it and understand what I was saying. I also wanted to give back something to my people and culture.” (PTI)

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