Monday, 30th October 2017

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Now, I get to choose my work: Juhi Chawla

This Friday, Juhi will be seen in Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, co-starring Anil Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao

  • Published 30.01.19, 8:33 PM
  • Updated 30.01.19, 8:33 PM
  • 6 mins read
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Juhi Chawla Agency picture

Juhi Chawla was battling a bout of sniffles when t2 caught up with her recently. “Take as much time as you like. I’m all yours!” she giggled when we apologised for dragging her out of bed on a sick day. More than three decades may have passed since Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, but at 51, Juhi remains the fresh-faced Rashmi we loved in the Romeo-Juliet-styled romance that made her and Aamir Khan instant heartthrobs.

This Friday, Juhi will be seen in Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, co-starring Anil Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao. t2 chatted with Juhi on the film, the kind of roles she’s picking and choosing now, and which film of hers deserves a remake.

The trailer of Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga and the tagline of #LetLoveBe has sparked off a lot of curiosity. How relevant do you think the film is in today’s times?

Yes, there’s a lot of curiosity. Everyone wants to know ‘What’s happening in the film?’ So now I keep telling people that it’s just around the corner and they can watch what happens this Friday. I am always on the lookout for a great script and when I heard the script for this film, it simply blew my mind. It’s a wonderful film.., in the way it’s crafted, it’s fun, there are many twists and turns, full of warmth…. And then, it springs a few surprises and takes the viewer to a beautiful emotional high. It’s an unfamiliar story told in a very familiar way. It’s a very wholesome Hindi film. Once I heard it, there were no questions asked… I knew I was doing the film.

In the last few years, has there been a change in the nature of the roles offered to you?

It definitely has changed because we are now making films that are different from what we have been seeing. There have always been a couple of films every year that have disrupted the usual campus romances. Last year, it kind of boomed quite a bit because there were a slew of films that came in with so-called smaller stars and modest budgets. Fortunately, people went to the theatres in large numbers and made these films successful. What I am hoping for is that this trend continues because that would also mean that newer and more fresh characters will be written for actors like me.

Anything that’s released in recent times that you really liked?

Ya, quite a few. I actually watched two of them just last week; before that, I don’t think I had been to the theatre for six months (giggles). I really enjoyed Sui Dhaaga, I thought it was such a sweet film. Then there was one that I heard being praised a lot on radio and I was like, ‘Yeh Badhaai Ho toh dekhni padegi’. It’s such an unusual concept, and yet again it’s so familiar like Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga is. Badhaai Ho had something that would happen to our grandmothers and sometimes even our mothers… they all got married so young that they were still having children when their older ones were starting to get married (laughs). So it’s something that was always there but we hadn’t seen it on screen. I just watched The Accidental Prime Minister and I thought it was quite interestingly done. I’m planning to watch Manikarnika… I loved the trailer. Kangana (Ranaut) looks so powerful and convincing in her role.

Coming back to Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, what was it like sharing screen space with Anil Kapoor, your co-star in many films in the ’90s?

Anilji is still the same like he was on the sets of Benaam Badsha (1991) and Deewana Mastana (1997). And not just in terms of his looks! (Laughs) I was very excited about working with both him and Sonam. I have known Anilji for years, but I met Sonam for the first time on the set of this film. And then working with Rajkummar (Rao)… this combination has been fantastic! Anilji and I last worked together in Salaam-e-Ishq (2007) and he was just as friendly and hard-working as he always has been. It was great to see the father and daughter pair of Anilji and Sonam working together for the first time. There was so much I learnt just by talking to Sonam.

When you sign a role now does the length matter or is it only the impact that it could potentially have?

I have never really looked at the length of a role. It’s about the impact and whether the person I play is relevant to the story. More than anything, I also look at the film because I have seen many times that your role may be the greatest role on earth, but if the film in totality is not working in your head, then all your efforts will be in vain. I worked for Gulaab Gang (2014, in which Juhi played the antagonist) only for 10 days. And yet without my character the film would be incomplete. So it doesn’t really matter if you don’t work on a film for 40 days.

After more than 30 years in the business, what makes you go to work with the same passion every day?

Ek toh I don’t go every day! (Laughs) And that’s the reason why I still have that passion. When I go, it’s because I have chosen to be in that film and the script has touched me in a way that many others that have been offered to me haven’t. Now, I get to choose my work. Earlier, one didn’t know what one was doing… we just went with the flow. Some turned out great and some were bad misses.

Last year, I really enjoyed doing The Test Case, something that I was very happy to pick up. First of all, I really like the medium. Your work can be viewed by people in China or in Timbuktu! The Test Case had me in a tiny role but I jumped at it because they wanted me to play the defence minister. I was like ‘I’m already in. When will I ever get the chance to play a defence minister?!’ (Laughs)

After that, I got another offer of a web series which was a nice family-oriented series but they expected too much work out of me. It was 45 days of work from 9am to 9pm in one studio every day. I was like, ‘Thank you very much. I don’t think I can do it now!’

Remakes are the flavour of the season. If you had to see a remake of a film of yours, which one would it be?

I would pick Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke. It’s a fun film with some cute romance… everybody likes that kind of film.

You and Aamir look the same, so you could probably play your characters all over again…

I look the same, but what about Aamir?! (Laughs out loud) I’m kidding! Aamir changes his look with every film… it’s amazing!

Now that you ask me, a film I wish hadn’t come in so early and had released now is Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000). I think it would have been relevant now… the whole theme of channel wars and the fight for TRPs and the fact that anything goes (laughs). At that time, it just went over everyone’s heads but now, people are like, ‘Arre, it’s all happening now’. I think it may be too early for a remake of that film though.

Come April, we look forward to seeing you cheering for Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens for the IPL. Do you still enjoy the madness as much as you did in the initial years?

(Laughs) I don’t know about enjoying… I get so stressed over there. Every match is like an exam for me. Much as I do look forward to the IPL, I actually don’t look forward to the IPL!

Do you have any superstitions going into a match?

Ya! I never enter the stadium without going to Kalighat first. I beg and beg… I grovel over there! (Laughs) In the KKR stand, there is one corner that we consider lucky and when things don’t go right, I go and stand in that corner and then when things don’t go our way, I don’t know where to go and hide! But things have gone right also for us. It’s an unscripted drama and I do enjoy it at some level.

You’ve become pretty active on social media over the last few years. What do you enjoy about the medium?

First of all, I make sure that everything I post comes directly from me. It has to be unadulterated communication from my side. I am not good at checking out other people on social media because I am actively working towards cutting down on my screen time.

You did put up a post on the first day of the year where you locked up the phones of everyone at home so that there would be more family time…

Ya I did, but it only lasted less than a day. By evening, everyone just snatched their phones from me! They all went back to their phones and sadly, so did I. But now we have started this competition of checking whose screen time is what at the end of the day and mine was going over four hours, which is a huge no-no. So now, I am in the process of cutting down drastically.


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