ac­tor Juhi chawla talks about her ‘no plas­tic’ pol­icy

Ac­tor

Governance Now - - CONTENTS - photo cour­tesy: Juhi chawla

Very few know that lead­ing Bollywood ac­tress Juhi Chawla is an ac­tivist of sorts when it comes to en­vi­ron­ment. She is an or­ganic farmer as well and does her bit in spread­ing aware­ness about sus­tain­able devel­op­ment. A for­mer Miss In­dia (1984),

Juhi has banned the use of plas­tic in her home and of­fice. For the IPL matches of her team, Kolkata Knight Rid­ers, co-owned with Shah Rukh Khan, she changed the team’s flags from plas­tic to biodegrad­able ma­te­rial. She is as­so­ci­ated with numer­ous na­tional and in­ter­na­tional char­i­ties and so­cial causes. In Novem­ber 2015, she re­ceived the Indira Gandhi Me­mo­rial Award in So­cial Aware­ness for her ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion and ef­forts to­wards cre­at­ing aware­ness about the health haz­ards caused due to mo­bile tower an­ten­nae ra­di­a­tion.

Which is the most mem­o­rable film you have seen re­cently?

Pad­ma­vat. The scale, the beauty and its each frame was like po­etry in mo­tion. i en­joyed the story and loved how the ac­tors were treated and pre­sented. ran­veer was out­stand­ing in his per­for­mance. It is a clas­sic film and takes you into another world. Pad­ma­vat did the same to me.

How has the film in­dus­try changed over the years?

From sin­gle pro­duc­ers, we now see a lot more pro­duc­tion houses run­ning in an or­gan­ised man­ner. The plan­ning of films is more metic­u­lous. I clearly re­mem­ber when we used to shoot a film, it would take any­where be­tween one and two years. In fact, a few of my films took up to five years be­cause of fi­nan­cial trou­bles, dates of artists and other is­sues. Nowa­days they wrap up the film in a few months and within one year, it hits the the­atres. Also, i see a lot of girls on the sets now. Up to 40 per­cent of the crew are young women. Women are work­ing in right from art di­rec­tion to cin­e­matog­ra­phy, di­rec­tion, make-up and styling, which is a fresh change. it’s won­der­ful to see that. When i had joined the in­dus­try in the 90s there were only three-four women on the sets among 100-125 crew mem­bers which would in­clude my­self, my hair dresser, maybe my mother or aunt if they ac­com­pa­nied me or another one or two women like the chore­og­ra­pher or the as­sis­tant. Another change is that, you now get a bound script be­fore­hand and you clearly know about your role be­fore you jump into the project. Whereas, ear­lier we were only aware of the out­line of the story and about the pro­ducer, the di­rec­tor and the hero of the film. This was the only ba­sis to re­ject or ac­cept the project. The only scripts which were ever nar­rated to me and that too en­tirely were Aaina and Darr pro­duced by Yash cho­pra.

How can ci­ti­zens take care of en­vi­ron­ment?

Ma­hatma Gandhi had said that if each one of us cleans at least five to 10 feet around us, the en­tire world will be clean in five min­utes. This holds true even to­day. if each one of us de­cides to take care of the en­vi­ron­ment in and around our homes, our habits, our fam­i­lies, the world will be a clean place.

Peo­ple must un­der­stand that we would be pre­serv­ing the en­vi­ron­ment for our­selves and our fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. You may or may not put money in their bank but if you can clean up your en­vi­ron­ment, you are leav­ing them bet­ter air to breathe, bet­ter wa­ter to drink and soil which is not been poi­soned. ev­ery drop counts. even as a house­wife you can bring

about a great change.

i was shaken af­ter realising how we are pol­lut­ing the world. Be­fore telling any­one else, i de­cided to act from my end. i started from my kitchen and re­placed all plas­tic jars and bot­tles etc. with steel, glass or ce­ramic. i in­structed my staff to not bring plas­tic bags in the house. To make this a habit, I put a fine of ₹20 and within days they trans­formed. i also switched to a bam­boo tooth­brush when i re­alised that ev­ery plas­tic tooth­brush that we used as chil­dren is still float­ing on the earth some­where and when mul­ti­plied by 6 bil­lion peo­ple th­ese plas­tic tooth­brushes are either stuck in the oceans, land or in some an­i­mals gut. noth­ing in the world will make me go back to a plas­tic tooth­brush. When i am trav­el­ling, i ask for nor­mal drink­ing wa­ter in a jar or glass bot­tle in­stead of plas­tic wa­ter bot­tles. i prac­tise the same in my hus­band’s [Jay Me­hta’s] of­fice and fol­lowed it at Red Chill­ies’ of­fice too. Now they have also given up plas­tic bot­tles in their of­fices.

Dur­ing the ipl matches, it was shock­ing to see the amount of plas­tic in the sta­dium. All the plas­tic items, in­flat­a­bles plas­tic bal­loons lit­tered on the ground end up in a land­fill. With Kolkata Knight rid­ers, we have no cheer items made of plas­tic. Even our flags are made of nat­u­ral ma­te­rial and flag sticks are made of re­cy­cled pa­per.

How can au­thor­i­ties make the cities sus­tain­able?

They can bring in bet­ter laws. in Ma­ha­rash­tra they are bring­ing firm laws and ban­ning sin­gle-use dis­posal bags – the main cul­prits! The rich and the in­flu­en­tial run­ning in­dus­tries and busi­ness houses can surely take small mea­sures to start with. in Jay’s fac­to­ries and our Gu­rukul in Por­ban­dar, we are plant­ing more trees. Just sim­plify lives. Buy less, con­sume less and be more mind­ful of what you do.

You have strongly voiced against the harm­ful ef­fects of ra­di­a­tion from mo­bile tow­ers and cell phones. Do you see changes happening on that front?

in the last six years, i see many more cell tow­ers in ev­ery pos­si­ble area of the city. We have also gone from 3G to 4G and we are al­ready talk­ing about 5G. We are digging our own graves while en­ter­tain­ing peo­ple. You can­not hear or see ra­di­a­tion. You can only feel the ef­fects af­ter it has crept into your sys­tem! Many peo­ple are now tak­ing small steps to safe­guard them­selves from the ef­fects of ra­di­a­tions, like charg­ing their phones out­side the room or switch­ing off the Wi-fi router at night be­fore sleep­ing. The point is that the in­dus­try is on such

an up­swing and i know that i won’t be able to turn the tide, but, well, change hap­pens only when there is a cri­sis. so we will have to wait it out!

You have been ad­vo­cat­ing or­ganic farm­ing. Why is it im­por­tant?

i, in fact, prac­tise or­ganic farm­ing on our farms near Mandva and in Vada near Mum­bai. I find it a wise prac­tice and it gives great yield. some­where there is this un­for­tu­nate mis­un­der­stand­ing that if you grow or­ganic, bugs will eat it up, be­cause of which you get small and odd-look­ing pro­duce. Though it may not look per­fect but the pro­duce is sweeter, more nour­ish­ing. Both fruits and veg­eta­bles smell and taste great. You only have to take slightly more care of the pro­duce.

Use of neem, tulsi, drum­stick mix­tures, digging pits, spray­ing your plots with neem oil etc. helps. We grow man­goes and we get them in thou­sands which we then send to all our friends and ex­tended fam­ily ev­ery year. We have now slowly started re­tail­ing th­ese. This is the right thing to do. By killing your soil with pes­ti­cides and harm­ful chem­i­cals you will end up ex­haust­ing your soil, which will even­tu­ally lead to a dark end­ing.

Af­ter the or­ganic fes­ti­val in Delhi last year, i wrote to union min­is­ter Maneka

Gandhi to con­duct one in Mum­bai. Within days her of­fice got back to us with a pos­i­tive re­ply. it took place in March this year over six days and i did my best to help them. About 300 women put up their stalls and it turned out to be a great suc­cess. i am sure it will be now held reg­u­larly.

What is your favourite pas­time?

some­times, it is to just sit in silence and be­ing with the self. i also en­joy prac­tis­ing yoga. When I feel the ef­fects of yoga on my mind and body it makes me think about what i was ever do­ing with­out it in my life ear­lier!

What are your fu­ture plans?

if you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans! And if you want to make God laugh some more tell Him about your busi­ness plans. so i am hon­estly not plan­ning. I just go with the flow. I am in­deed hav­ing a great time.

As told to Gee­tan­jali Min­has

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