Spotlight: Juhi Chawla

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“It’s not about small or big budget movies anymore; it’s my role that makes my film big or small for me.” ~ Juhi Chawla

Juhi Chawla is one of Bollywood’s brightest stars and has appeared in films along with all the top actors of Bollywood. Whether her roles are big or small, Juhi steals the light and the scene and always makes an impression in every role she portrays. Juhi is back better than ever, and with the release of Bhoothnath we thought we would publish once again our spotlight on this incredible actress.

She was born in 1967 in Ludhiana, Punjab to Dr. S. and Mona Chawla. She graduated from Sydenham College in Mumbai with a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce. She began modeling and became one of India’s top models. Then in 1984 she was crowned “Miss India”.

The next path for Chawla was Bollywood and she made her debut in the film Sultanat in 1986. Her second film was the super-hit Kannada film Premaloka.

Then came the movie and the role that established her in the firmament as a Bollywood star: Rashmi in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) co-starring Aamir Khan. This film, directed by Mansoor Khan, went on to create box-office history and the jodi of Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla was proclaimed as the hottest romantic pair on the silver screen.

She went on to make several other movies that did not catch on, including Tum Mere Ho and Love Love Love, also with Aamir Khan. Chawla acted in many other films including a guest appearance in Chandni, and her portrayal of her character in Aaina with Jackie Shroff was critically acclaimed. Many, many roles followed and several were very well received.

Chawla was known for playing the cute, innocent, bubbly girl but her role in Lootere in 1993 established her as a sexy and glamorous star. She was not keen on doing the role, especially the dance on the beach in just a plain white shirt. But her friends convinced her to take the role and with this film she was now labeled as “hot”!

Chawla continued her road to superstardom with the hits Bol Radha Bol with Rishi Kapoor, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman which co-starred Shah Rukh Khan, and of course the excellent Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke with Aamir Khan. For her role as Vaijanti Iyer in the latter she won the Filmfare Best Actress Award.

Her next film Darr was for Yash Raj Films and signing for that production company is said to be a badge of honor – you have made it. The film was a huge success and now Chawla was considered in the same league as Madhuri Dixit and Sri Devi. Darr reunited her with Shah Rukh Khan and they were hailed as outstanding romantic leads.

Shah Rukh Khan and Chawla went on to star in several more hits like Yes Boss and Duplicate. For Duplicate in 1999 she was awarded the Bollywood Movie Award – Most Sensational Actress.

The partnership between SRK and Chawla developed off screen as well when they formed a production company along with Aziz Mizra called Dreamz Unlimited, to make the kind of films they wanted. Their first production was Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, which pulled mediocre receipts at the box office, and their second film Asoka fared about as well. But they hit high notes in 2003 with Chalte Chalte starring SRK and Rani Mukherji.

After Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani and several other releases Chawla took a break from acting. She fell in love with and married millionaire Jai Mehta. The two welcomed a daughter Jhanvi and a son Arjun.

Coming back to the screen she made a huge splash with her supporting role in Deewarein in 2003. For this role she was honored with the Star Screen Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Next was a role in Jhankaar Beats in which she showed her acting range, A reviewer said, “Juhi Chawla shows her charm. She is fantastic. Her expressions and timing as Shanti are just perfect.” In My Brother Nikhil (2005) she won immense critical praise; in fact Taran Adarsh said that her performance was one of the finest in her career.

She played a supporting but important role in Paheli and her quiet and beautiful portrayal showed her immense acting talent.

Smaller budget films that she feels have a special quality have attracted Chawla’s attention in recent years. In an interview for India Glitz she said,” I am around for so many years now. Why do I have to establish myself any further! I am not doing the films that today’s heroines are doing. Then why do I have to worry about the commercial angle…I am doing films that I like…They may not be mainstream…. But they are interesting…”

In 2006 her films included Bas Ek Pal and Waris Shah: Ishq Daa Waaris. This year she was seen in Nikhil Advani’s Salaam-E-Ishq playing opposite Anil Kapoor and she was given very good reviews for her role.

At the helm of Swami was choreographer-turned director Ganesh Acharya. After hearing the script narrated, Chawla was in tears. She said, “I was very surprised that the film that he wants to make has simplicity, emotions, reality and a very touching end. After hearing the story I had tears in my eyes.”

About her role in Swami Chawla said, “”It’s not about small or big budget movies anymore; it’s my role that makes my film big or small for me. That’s the reason I love Radha’s character in Ganesh Acharya’s Swami. It’s the simplicity of the script that made me take it up.” This role has won her critical praise as well as audience appreciation.

Juhi was seen in Krazzy 4 just last month and tomorrow her new film Bhoothnath is releasing. Bhoothnath stars Amitabh Bachchan, child artist Aman Siddiqui and Shah Rukh Khan. Juhi has even leant her lovely voice to the song ‘Chalo Jaane Do’. Amitabh is also heard on the track and Juhi said, “I didn’t get to record this song with him. But I am possibly the only actress who can, in life, say that I have not only shared screen space with Mr Amitabh Bachchan but also sang with him.”

Also in the pipeline is a special appearance in Kismet Konnection, which star Vidya Balan and Shahid Kapoor.

A few interesting facts:

She was formerly India’s top model and now has been doing movies for more than 20 years; no model has lasted as long as she has in the Indian film industry.

She did not win the Ms. Universe competition but she was given the “The Best Costumes” award.

Favorite Movie: Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak

Chawla been studying classical singing for 5 years and has even sung at an awards function when she was hosting the event with Karan Johar. It is reported that she may sing a song in Ravi Chopra’s Bhootnath. Abhay Chopra said, “Although nothing is fixed as yet, there is a very good possibility that Juhi may sing in the film.” She loves singing so much she wants her daughter to become a classical singer. (Filmfare, Nov 2001)

The actress has pledged to donate her eyes. While visiting Dhamecha Eye Hospital at Porbandar she was asked to lend her support to an eye donation camp, which was also carrying out free cataract operations. Her support to the camp got 40,000 pledges for eye donations in three months. Speaking about this she said, “This time when I went, they made a special occasion out of it. While there, I pledged to donate my eyes. They do such wonderful work that my deed seems like a drop in the ocean. But if every such deed helps to light up someone’s life, then why not?”

This immensely respected and beloved actress’s career has spanned over 20 years has included over 81 films. Many of her performances have been critically applauded and appreciated at the box-office. She has done starring roles as well as secondary characters and she always is so natural on screen, bringing grace and beauty no matter what her character is or does. Whether doing big banner productions or art house films this enduring star always entertains the audience and we hope that she continues for another 20 years!

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