Juhi Chawla | After giving a remarkable performance in Chalk n Duster, Chawla is now stealing the show in Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga. She chats with Sangeeta Yadav about the need to start a dialogue on major societal issues through films
How was it to work for Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga?
It was the most wonderful experience because of the amazing cast and crew. Writer-director Shelly Chopra Dhar is super talented and a very capable person and has spent 20 years learning the art of cinema making by assisting her brother and ace director Vidhu Vinod Chopra in making short films. Then an amazing and wholesome script leaves you saying wow! Everything is so beautifully woven with an interesting twist in the tale. The subject is sensitively handled. It is an entertaining yet intelligent and sensitive film. I am glad the director chose me.
You are as bubbly and chirpy as Chatro in the film as you are in real life…
When Vinodji was penning Chatro’s character, he called me and said that ‘I have only one actor in mind to play her and that is you’. I thought that was a great compliment. This persona has become a part of me now. I loved the character Chatro, a cute Punjabi lady who wants to pursue her dreams of establishing her catering business which caters to this theatre production company of Sahil Mirza played by Rajkummar Rao. And then a little adventure takes off from there.
Is the film about woman empowerment and gender equality?
This film has so multi-faceted like a diamond. It is about woman empowerment, love, friendship, family and acceptance of same sex relationships. It is a combination of all the wonderful things you know of. They all find their place in this little story. The new element in this film is Sonam’s love story. But that apart, there are so many other things. Most importantly, the way Shelly has put it together, it makes you look at people in a new light. It makes you empathise. One has to watch this movie to know what it is all about and I will be glad if it opens a dialogue in society.
Do you think the way you are in real life has got merged with your reel life identity?
My screen persona is warm and funny a lot of times. Some of that is true to my real life but then there are moments when I am serious and quiet, and a few times angry too. That is also a part of me which you don’t see on screen so much. I am more than what you see on big screen.
Is there a big shift in subjects being picked by directors?
The shift in content has happened rapidly in the last one-and-a-half year which is very encouraging for filmmakers who have nice stories to tell. But earlier, they were not entertained and people would rather back their films with a big startscast and not really focus as much on content. But now, they have realised that content works more than the big starcast and budgets. This will encourage more filmmakers to come up with interesting stories. It is working well at the box office and production houses are also backing these kinds of films. I hope this trend continues and we get to see many more charming stories on the big canvas.
What about GenX actors who are taking centrestage?
I am so happy to work with actors like Rajkummar Rao and Sonam Kapoor. I have seen Ayushmann Khurana’s work too and he is a promising actor. It is good to see how youngsters are contributing to the growth of Indian cinema and believe in doing good roles and stories rather than following name, fame and money. What I really like about Rao is that whenever he likes roles and scripts, he goes ahead even if the money is less. A lot of others are thinking this way. You have campus romances and other interesting stories on big screens.
What else is keeping you busy?
I don’t make a lot of plans because I believe that we can make plans, God laughs at them. Having said that, I hope this film makes a mark and is accepted by people. I hope to get more interesting films. I was to begin another film which got held up because of Rishhi Kapoorji’s treatment.
Meanwhile, I am busy working on banning plastic and radiation. I also do organic farming and dabble in Education schemes because I am a part of the management of The Gurukul, a family Trust school. We are also involved in IPL and will be gearing up for it in March-April.
What do you enjoy doing the most?
Being with my family and children and being on the sets doing exciting film. These are my two top favourites.