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Johny Lever makes TV debut

Thursday, June 01, 2006

New Delhi (UNI): He is undisputedly the "king of comedy" in Bollywood today having regaled cinegoers with his unique brand of humour in hundreds of films over the last more than two decades. Now, in the silver jubilee year of his stint in Bollywood, the "superstar of comedy" Johny Lever is all set to send TV viewers into splits with his new comedy serial 'Johny Ala Re', his first ever show on the small screen. Premiering on Zee TV on June 5 at 2200hrs, 'Johny Ala Re' will have Johny Lever indulge in mimicry, spoofs and meet celebrities in his own style. To be aired every week from Mondays to Wednesdays at 2200hrs, the series is being produced by Akashdeep and Sheeba's Cinetek Telefilms Private limited.

Speaking at a press conference in the capital last night to announce the launch of the serial, senior vice president, programming, Zee TV, Ashvini Yardi said the introduction of the comedy series was to consolidate Zee's position as the number two channel in India by strengthening the prime time slot on weekdays which already has 'Saat Phere' at 2100hrs. ''Till now we have been concentrating on game shows. It is after a long time, nearly four to five years, that we have come up with a comedy show,''she said. On the choice of Johny Lever, she said ''Johny Lever is a comedian par excellence. The best part of doing a show with Johny is that he makes you laugh by just being around. We have also lined up several lively celebrities that go with the flavour of the show. Johny will meet them in his own comical manner, ensuring that the audience are in slits, rolling in the aisles.''

On his part, Johny Lever promised that he would leave no stone unturned in infusing laughter in the lives of TV viewers. ''This is my first series on television. I have been wanting to do a TV show for a long time. There have been offers too to do comedy shows on television. For example, ten years ago Sony approached me to do their show 'Movers and Shakers'. But at that time I was too busy in films to be able to devote time to working on a TV show which I felt required putting up a lot of hard work, more than that for films . Then a few years ago also I received a few offers which I turned down for similar reasons'' Johny said. However, now that the actor had cut down on his film assignments, taking up only those roles that offered him something new, Johny felt it was the right time to make his foray on the small screen. ''Now that I have cut down on my film work, I can devote a lot of my time for doing a TV show which, I have realised in the last few months of shooting for 'Johny Ala Re', requires a lot of hard work. But I am determined to succeed in my foray on television and hope that I am able to entertain TV viewers to the fullest'' the actor said.

The show 'Johny Ala Re' has half an hour of rib tickling comedy by the comic genius which is divided into segments like skits where Johny Lever takes on the disguise of popular personalities like Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, international pop star Michael Jackson, Bollywood star Raj Kumar and many others. There is also a segment called 'Main Bhi Johny' where the comedy king asks the common man to come up and showcase his talent in booths set up on the street. Besides the fixed segments, there are a few floating segments such as parody of songs, topical spoofs and mimicry.

Speaking on the occasion, producer Akashdeep said ''This year, Johny Lever completes 25 year of bringing a smile to the faces of the people through his thousands of stage shows and hundreds of films. There could not have been a better gift Johny Lever could give to his fans than bringing them complete family entertainment that a serial like 'Johny Ala Re' promises to provide.'' Asked whether the launch of 'Johny Ala Re' was in keeping with the trend of comedy shows on television like the 'Great Indian Laughter Challenge' on Star One, Ashvini said 'The series 'Johny Ala Re' is totally different from the 'Great Indian Laughter challenge' on Star One. For one, ours is a purely comedy show whereas 'The Great Indian Laughter Challenge' is primarily a talent hunt show.'' ''Also since Zee is a general entertainment channel, we cannot depend only on soaps. Hence the launch of serials like 'Kam Ya Zyada', 'Business Baazigar' and now 'Johny Ala Re'' she said.

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