Bollywood's veteran funny man Johny Lever talks about his favourite Christmas memories and more...
Actor and comedian
Grew up in King's Circle
I grew up in the slums of King's Circle. Christmas was always the best time of the year. We couldn't afford grand plans, but made it a point to celebrate the occasion with the entire community nonetheless.
My ways of celebrating the festival was very unusual. I remember I was about 15 years old back then when I would put up lights in the entire slum; I also lit firecrackers. But we were not working then, so Christian families would make certain donations and we would use that money to decorate every little spot in the locality. Since we couldn't really get a Christmas tree, we would find the best looking, grand tree in the area and adorn it with beautiful lights and bulbs. I used to make it a point to dance every year and found my greatest fans in the men who brought in loudspeakers for us. They were kind enough to give us a discount each year only because of my performance.
Finally, when I turned 18, I started working and used to get an advance amount of Rs 150. At that time, decorations would cost about Rs 350, of which I would contribute Rs 150 from my kitty. The point was to make the festival memorable for all, no matter how much we could collectively spend on it. The enthusiasm was off the charts. All the mothers would also make karanjis and sweets at home. We invited carol troupes; I was a part of them. If I remember clearly, we would serve them food as well for being kind enough to sing for us. The best part was building a crib, which belonged to everyone.
Now that I live in a high-rise in Yamuna Nagar, Oshiwara, not much has changed really. Here too, all the tenants celebrate Christmas together by adorning the building with gorgeous lights. My 28-year-old daughter Jamie usually shops for our tree and crib, which we set up in our own house now. In a nutshell, the fervour and pomp has only multiplied in these many years.
How to celebrate Christmas: We really enjoy the pre-Xmas shopping in Lokhandwala and town. I also make it a point to celebrate with the entire community in my building
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