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The minute I turn on the camera, I literally embody the character: Jamie Lever

The actress is known for her on-point portrayals of celebrities such as Sonam Kapoor and Farah Khan on social media.

Photo: Courtesy Jamie Lever on Instagram

Sonal Pandya

The new year is off to a promising start for Jamie Lever. The actress-comedienne, who has appeared in the films Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon (2015) and Housefull 4 (2019), has recently launched her latest quiz show, FYI — For Your Information, on Flipkart Video. In it, she brings her own brand of lively comedy to a familiar format.

During the lockdown, Jamie decided to keep herself busy by creating amusing comedy videos. “When the pandemic hit, I was at home by myself, and I’m a restless soul, I need to keep doing something,” she told Cinestaan in a telephonic conversation. “So I started working and making videos [and] somehow I started reaching out to people, and people were also getting entertained.”

As the likes and followers grew, people took notice and Flipkart Video came calling.  “A lot of celebrities were doing shows on it already and they reached out to me and they said, 'Why don’t we create a show with you, Jamie? And we want to make a nice comedy quiz kind of show together because people want something fun [and] interactive',” she recalled.

She got on board and together they worked to incorporate the actress’ quirks and comedic style into the quiz format. “It was my dream always to have my own show. I’m so glad and thankful that this worked out and I’m really enjoying myself,” Jamie said.

The actress is known for her on-point portrayals of celebrities such as Sonam Kapoor and Farah Khan on social media. On the show, the makers utilize her ability to pick up accents and her mastikhor [mischievous] personality.

“I’m going to be playing a character myself. That is something that I really like doing. So we thought why don’t I play this Gujarati girl who is very street smart, who has all this information, and she wants to give people information, kyunki pata nahin kabhi na kabhi toh information kaam aa sakti hain,” she said of the fun character she plays on the show.

Slipping into the skin of these characters, however, takes a lot of time and effort, although the actress admits it has gotten easier.

“Initially, every time I would think of mimicking a particular celebrity, it would take me weeks,” she explained. “I would sit and research them. Let’s say, if I’m mimicking Nigella Lawson, I just spend days watching her videos, trying to catch her mannerisms, her facial expressions, movements, body language. I would read about their personal life, their family, their career, and also watch videos and everything that’s on social media about them.”

“Somehow after getting all this information, I would just adopt that body language. It comes to me naturally where I just pick up their quirks and lip or jaw movements. The minute I put on the camera, I literally embody the character.  And the rest is just me going with the flow and that’s how I created all these characters, like Usha Uthup ji and Nigella Lawson. They were all new to me, but this is what I really love doing and I’m very passionate about it and I don’t think of it as a difficult job,” she added.

But she admitted it was difficult to create short-form videos in light of the competition. “It’s like an ocean full of content. So many content creators and everybody is doing a phenomenal job, each one of them. But yes, you really have to stand out and not be someone who’s part of the clutter,” Jamie stated.

The actress likes a challenge but the response she receives for her videos is worth the effort she puts into them. A one-woman army, she shoots, edits and puts together her own costumes and makeup for her characters. And creating content is a full-time job.

“I would say, for us, as comedians, we work 24/7,” she said. “We’re constantly working, even sometimes when I’m closing my eyes, my mind is racing. I’m constantly thinking of ideas or what I can say as Sonam Kapoor or as Asha Bhosle ji. It could be part of our homework and part of our practice. It’s a crazy job. But we love it.”

Besides Flipkart Video’s FYI — For Your Information, Jamie has also been testing for film and other projects in the meantime. “I was lucky enough to get a film project in the month of November. I shot for a feature film called Bhoot Police and that will be coming out later this year,” said the actress who hoping to dip a toe into the web space as well.

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