A chat with chirpy Chawla

Pic Top: TIDU writer Neeru Saluja chats with Juhi Chawla in Sydney

Pic Below: Juhi Chawla with Melburnian Bollywood fans

By Neeru Saluja

Juhi Chawla may not be doing the same bubbly roles but she still retains her title ‘Chirpy Chawla’. The Ex-Miss India who shot to fame with her debut romantic film Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, became one of the top leading Bollywood actress in the 90’s. While her vivacious screen presence still remains intact, Juhi is one actress who has matured in her roles with age.

In Sydney for the premiere of her latest film ‘I Am’, Juhi Chawla took out some time from her busy schedule for an exclusive interview with the Indian Down Under. Dressed in a black t-shirt (that read ‘I Am’) and beige trousers, she looked every inch a glamourous actress. We got talking to the Scorpion beauty about her career, family and her latest ventures…

Welcome to Sydney Juhi. Let’s start with for what you are here today, your latest film ‘I Am’.

“Thanks, I’ve been to Sydney to perform for concerts before but this time it’s a total different reason. I’m here to promote my film ‘I Am’. This is my third film with director Onir, after My Brother Nikhil and Bas Ek Pal. Both of the films were made on shoestring budgets, and I took up these films because I liked the script, Onir had confidence in me and above all, I had already worked with Sanjay Suri in Jhankaar Beats. But this time Onir approached me with a different concept. He said now you have to finance my next film!

“As always, I loved the script and essayed a small role in the film. Working with Onir is always performing the role with ease. The atmosphere was full of enthusiasm and we had a lovely cast of actors. This film is based on short stories and I play the role of Megha who goes to Kashmir to meet her childhood friend played by Manisha Koirala. Megha goes to Kashmir with a lot of misgivings, anger and feeling of betrayal.”

Besides an actress, you have also been an ex Miss India, run a production house and own a cricket team. Tell us more about your fantastic journey.

“Before becoming Miss India I was like any college girl having fun with friends. Then I participated in the Miss India contest and after winning the crown got a chance in movies. I accepted my first movie Sultanat and I still remember my friends asking me about the good looking Karan Kapoor. I told them I’m too shy to talk to him! Then QSQT was released which was a super hit.

During my journey, I was lucky enough to work with both the Khans. With Aamir it was a very special relationship; we started our career together and had no formalities, it was just like college friends. Aamir goes into the depth of his character. Shahrukh started his career with me. Shahrukh used to make me laugh, he’s very well read and informed. We both started off a production house also. “

In your long career span, you have essayed all kind of roles. What difference do you feel from the last decade?

Gosh, it’s been 23 years since I have been acting! Every decade is different. In the 80’s and 90s there were a lot of South Indian choreographers; so the dancing style was full of jatkas and matkas. There was also a lot of great music, music was very big in those days. Now also it’s not that bad, there is a mix of Sufi, rap and global sounds.

Talking about music, I’ve heard that you have brought your tampura with you to Australia..

“Yes, you are right (smiles). I’m trained in music and classical dance. When I was a kid I used to run away from my dance classes never knowing that they will help me in future!”

Besides your passion for music, how do you do the family work balance?

“Just the way you do it! My husband Jai is looking after the kids right now and they are on a ski holiday. Both Jhanvi and Arjun are lovely kids. Jhanvi is very bright, she topped her class and is an avid reader. Arjun is all rounder and loves to play cricket. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, everyday I figure out how to put the pieces together. I plan my day and somehow the pieces are placed in the right place everyday!”

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