“I Made Karisma Kapoor The Star She Is.”
This diva of the early ‘90s, in real life, is quite like what we know her onscreen — bubbly, simple, emotional, sensitive and spontaneous. As she says, ‘I do what I can do very well.’ Our very own K..K..Kiran, the cheerful and happening JUHI CHAWLA has al
You were recently honoured with the DadaSahebPhalke AcademyAwards for Chalkn Duster. Congrats! How does it feel? I got it for two films. One was for Gulaab Gang which was so different from anything I had ever done before. When it came onscreen, I was totally taken aback since it came out fantastic. I’m my own biggest critic. I’m always ready to see myself onscreen and say, ‘Oh, that’s not right, that’s not good, this could have been better’. But when I saw Gulaab Gang, my reaction was, ‘Wow! You did pretty well’. Chalk n Duster, I believe is one of my really good films. I put in all my energy and attention into it. I genuinely thought it was a very good subject. The treatment was also very interesting, it grips you right from the word ‘Go’. It makes you smile, it really touches your heart. It is one of the films that I’m truly proud of.
Are you happy with the kind of roles coming your way? Or do you expect a certain genre or role to be approached for? I am very happy with the kind of roles and everything else coming my way. In fact, anything in my life that I pick up today, the kind of work I take is because I like doing it. I did do a film called Gulaab Gang about two years ago and I just had such a great time playing a negative role. The response kind of surprised me. I was really hoping to get more such negative, juicy roles, which never happened. I’m going to be working soon in fun, cute, lovable kind of roles that I was always known for. Though I tried to swim against the tides and do something new, it is just that I’m known to be a certain kind of person that exudes some kind of fun stuff onscreen and I’m happy with that.
Do you believe that ‘Juhi Chawla’ as an actor has been appreciated enough? Who am I and what actress are we talking about? As a person also, I think I have received more than I ever dreamt of. If I really look back squarely at myself, I would say I was an intelligent, maybe attractive girl, but I was given some extra ordinary chances in life. Today, when I go anywhere, all the Asians across the world know me. Most of the people tell me how they enjoyed and liked my work onscreen. I think it is such a big gift already. Whatever work I’ve done, God’s been very kind and showered me with so much name, fame, adulation and love. I’m extremely grateful and I totally appreciate what has happened to me.
You have done quite a lot of films with Shah Rukh Khan from RajuBanGaya Gentleman, D arr, RamJaa ne, Duplicate, Yes sB os sand more. And you also are a co-owner of KKR with him. There have always been praises about your
friendship and conjecture about your alleged rivalry. Has the equation with SRK evolved over the years?
Shah Rukh has been a very good friend since we started our careers almost at the same time. We saw dizzying heights of fame and name together. Of course, he is still shining very bright. We have certainly been through big highs and lows, but he is and will always be a good friend of mine. Although, now I don’t meet him that often since he’s busy working. However, what binds us together is our association with KKR. We now have Trinbago Knight Riders of Caribbean Premier League, Capetown Knight Riders and the Global African League. Our association through another means is growing or rather the Knight Rider family has grown.
Initially,youweretheone whom RajaHindustani and Dil ToPagalHai was offered to. Do
you regret the decision of not taking them up?
Yes, I was offered these films but it was at a time in my career when I was flying very high. I just had Darr, Hum Hai Rahi
Pyaar Ke... all released and maybe some more. All these films had really made me look fabulous and I thought... Well, I wasn’t thinking actually! I was just flying too high, my head was in the clouds and my feet were off the ground. I was making silly decisions and these were some of them. Later on when they became successful, of course I wondered, ‘What did I do?’ But that realization came much later and now I joke about it and I say, ‘You know what, I made Karisma Kapoor the star she is’. (laughs) These films went from me to her and then she did what she had to and it became very successful. I learnt that this is what they say about stardom that when you’re successful, to keep at it, to keep working, to be sensible at that time, that’s difficult. I went through that phase. I was young and I was not being sensible at that time.
After working in GulaabGang with Madhuri Dixit, are you comfortable with each other?
I was always comfortable with Madhuri Dixit. I was just not comfortable working with her before that, because you just asked me about Dil Toh Pagal Hai, initially I was being offered the second role with Madhuri Dixit which I didn’t take up then. But later on in Gulaab Gang, I took the role because we were doing totally different characters, otherwise I’m totally comfortable. Now I guess after Gulaab Gang, working with her onscreen would be easier.
There are actors in the industry who are remembered for the characters they play, long after the film has come and gone. But with you, apart from Kiran, you’ve been thought of as a bubbly cheerful character. Do you regret doing any film or roles that could’ve added to the most ‘memorable’ role list?
With this one question you have negated so many of my lovely films. You forgot my film Aaina where I played Seema, Seema again in YessBoss, Rashmi in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak,
Vyjayanti in Hum Hain Raahi Pyaar Ke, you only remember Shah Rukh’s, ‘K..K.K... Kiran’. And even my outrageously funny film Ishq or so many other beautiful films that I did. I’ll say for the moment that, it’s been 28-29 years in the industry, the fact that you’re still here interviewing me, I’m still around, relevant and doing films, I think that in itself is such a big blessing. Also, for a bubbly, funny character, I was so happy doing that because I found that when I was trying to enact - be it a seductress or something else, firstly, it was difficult for me and secondly, it used to unnerve me. What came very easily and what I enjoyed tremendously was being cheeky, funny, putting a smile on my face as well as the viewers’ face. And I loved it that! I was seen as the girl you could take home to your mom. I’m so glad that my characters have stayed on in the minds of people. I take that as a huge compliment.
I was just flying too high, my head was in the clouds and my feet were off the ground..”
You have certainly evolved as an actor, human being and a parent. Are you happy with where you currently are?
So I read this thing on, ‘What is happiness?’ Basically, when, what you think, you say and what you do are in harmony, then you’re happy. And if that is so, then I’m absolutely in bliss right now because I do the work that I like, I get time to spend with my family and I also do social work which makes me feel good. Anything that I don’t wish to do, I just politely decline. I’m the closest to being me today, who I truly am. It gives me so much calmness in my head. It’s fabulous!
There are reports that it was you who got Manoj Bajpayee replaced with Rishi Kapoor in ChalknDuster… is this true? What’s your say on this?
Are you trying to get me into trouble asking me all these funny questions that I got somebody replaced. Can I really do that? No! All I’d say is whatever happened and whatever happens in life is finally what’s meant to be and Chintu ji just did a fabulous job. He added so much soul and spirit to the climax of Chalk n Duster. That too it was Shabana ji who requested Chintu ji to do this, to which he agreed.
How confident are you working with the new gen leading ladies? You think sharing the same screen could possibly take away spotlight from you?
Of course, I’m not in competition with them! Why would I be uncomfortable? I know that they will do their role which I used to do in the ‘90s and early 2000, it is their time now. I do what I can do very well. I always have a place of myself in the film. I
Sometimes I want to kick myself for not having that smart answer at the right moment.”
absolutely know and accept it and I’m very happy with that. I wouldn’t want to be dancing around and romancing any hero now. I’m extremely comfortable working with a lot of girls if they are with me.
You had once said on stage that you’re the only heroine of that time who Salman hasn’t shared a screen with, on which Bhai replied that you were the one who turned down a film with him and now you can play his mother. How is your relationship with Salman?
Sometimes I want to kick myself for not having... that smart answer at the right moment. This was at the shooting of Bigg Boss where Salman is the host. I just randomly asked him, ‘Why haven’t we worked together?’ and I don’t know what strange answer he gave. When in my life have I not agreed to do a film with Salman? This must have been really early in my career and he said that, ‘Now you can play the mother’, I should’ve just said, ‘Yes and you could’ve played the father’, but somewhere I was so busy trying to think something at that moment. Forget what’s happened in the past! Maybe in the future, let’s see if there can be a role for me.
Why haven’t you acted in more films after ChalkNDuster? I did a little cameo in a webseries for Nagesh Kukunoor which is extremely well-written and then I did a lovely guest appearance in a children’s film in Kannada which is called Very Good 10/10. Meanwhile, there’s nothing interesting that came my way and now it has, but I would wait for the production team to make the announcement. When in my life have I not agreed to do a film with Salman?” You’ve gone beyond acting, and now you have your fingers in different pies, can you tell us a bit about your work and social endeavours? The problem is, I can’t tell you a little, I can tell you a lot. A little doesn’t do it justice. Because the issues I have picked up are colossal, they affect every living cell on the planet. The chemicals that leech out when plastic comes in contact with heat, wind and water are toxic causing hazardous diseases. After researching a lot, I felt there are important things like these which are not taught to us, nor are we teaching our children about this. Then I began to dig deeper, and what I heard about plastic made my jaw drop disbelief and alarm! That is why I have actively been working towards creating awareness on plastic pollution. In the past few years, I have started doing organic farming, this is in the little farms that I have outside of Mumbai. Once you have children, you start thinking about their health and what you feeding them. It’s very disturbing that we have chemicals in our food. I’m planting a lot of trees, about 70-80 more trees this year.
What’s the worst critic review you’ve ever heard about yourself?
One thing that I take pride in myself is that no matter which film, my work is always good because I give the same attention to every film. Of course for bigger films, I’ll work a little harder, but for me, my work is worship. My worst critic review I think was when somebody had written, ‘Juhi is good as usual’, and I felt, ‘What? Why can’t you just open your heart and say ‘She was good’, what does good as usual mean? That’s what comes to my mind!