Family is the topmost priority for Juhi Chawla
What made you say yes to the retro song of the South Indian film Pushpak Vimana?
I did it for a number of reasons. My reaction to the offer though initially was what would I be doing in an item song as I don’t do item songs, as that’s not quite my fortay. But then they explained why they wanted me to do it. So this film is set in the 80’s-90’s and it showcases a program of a hindi movie star at that time in a jail to celebrate an annual day function. So I am there as a movie star playing myself Juhi Chawla, and this happens to be where the hero of the film Ramesh Arvind Ji has been jailed and at this point in the film while the song is going on there is a major twist in the film.
I also decided to take it up since this was Ramesh Arvind Ji’s 100th film, so they are trying to make it as special as they can. The effort on the same from the makers side is also to make this whole film a special one for him. That became another reason for me to say yes. Also, the tune of the song was a very lovely and catchy one.It was an instant hit for me. So yes, taking into account all these things, I agreed to take up the project.
What’s the concept about? What do the lyrics mean?
So yes it was after a long time that I ventured into doing something for Kannada, and what I am doing in the film Pushpak Vimana is playing myself. So I do play Juhi Chawla who happens to be performing an item number, a very prettily shot Indian number in the film, which showcases at a very crucial time in the story.
The lyrics are inspiring. They are about encouragement, having faith, and it’s about life as well. It also tells you that there is no reason to be scared. Just have faith and go on with life. It’s a lovely song as firstly the tune is wonderful, the lyrics are very simple and nice and some of the lines are in hindi as well, and then they flow into Kannada again. I am sure it is going to become a super hit song. I also liked the way the makers put it across, as I am a Hindi film artist and so when I am coming to work in a Kannada film, it kind of made better sense to also put some of it in Hindi, as I wouldn’t be so fluent with the language that I would be singing all of it in Kannada. It was wonderful as it was a mix of both languages which made it easier for me to perform and made it more believable.
The song that I shot for was shot at a studio in Bangalore. It is a really lovely track with a very catchy tune. When I heard it for the first time I felt that this is a superhit song. The way its been picturised is really nice and cool. I danced after a long time as well. I must tell you that they didn’t tell me I was dancing but gave me a reference where I would look cool and strum a guitar, which I thought was quite easy and then when I got there they started giving me steps to dance on. After two shots I was like oh my god I almost feel rusty because I am doing this after so long. But then i got into it and oh I had such a lovely time dancing to the track. It definitely is going to be one of the highlights of the film and so I wish it great success.
You had on an earlier occasion said that your daughter wants to be a writer. How did you react to it when she shared her ambition with you?
My daughter still is just a growing little girl and she has her dreams. Yes she is an avid reader. If there is anything she likes in this world, and if you ask her what she wants as a gift, it will be a book. She is happy when people gift her lovely books. Her joy is being in some bookstore and losing herself in some nice books. Since she reads so much, she writes beautifully. At one time she was very serious because she was inspired by J.K Rowling. That J.K Rowling could become richer than the queen, so she thought okay this is the way to go. So she said she wanted to be a writer. Then she went through a phase where she said okay I want to be a model. Tomorrow she might say I want to be an actress. Day after she might say she wants to drop all this and you know do sports. I don’t know but I have learnt one thing, you have to let your children do what they want. You must let your children do what they want to do.
Monsoon is a season filled with memories. What special memory do you have attach with monsoon? Is there any other childhood memory you would like to share?
I love Mumbai rains! Everything about them. The cloudy weather, the temperature drop, the rise in our greenery around, the lovely winds and the fresh smell of the earth. So yes I really love the monsoons. It is my favourite time of the year. I actually don’t like to get away during the monsoons, and prefer being here in my city. Though thanks to my kids we do miss half of the rains as their holidays are in the month of June and July, hence we are usually travelling. So by the time we get back from our holidays, there is just a month or so of them left. Though I just love being in Mumbai during the rains and walking around with my umbrella, but if I do have to go somewhere it would be down to Lonavala or Khandala up the ghaats, because there the clouds are literally at the same level at which you are driving, and the weather is so nice and foggy and quite pleasant which is just lovely.
My monsoon memories are mostly the ones part of my childhood. I grew up in Mumbai, used to live at Cuffee Parade, and I remember that due to the heavy rains the Cuffee parade road would get flooded. So if it was ever raining through the night, I would wait for the next morning to check if the roads outside were all flooded which also meant that I wouldn’t have to go to school. And if it did get flooded, a lot of my time would be spent just hanging around with friends from the building and looking out of the window to see people splashing around on the streets. Another thing I remember was that if it rained heavily and we were in school, they would allow us to leave early to get back home, and I was in the 9th standard around a few of the times when my friends and I who stayed close by to home would walk back in the rain! We would splash around the pavements, get drenched and just enjoy ourselves to the fullest.
Being a mother, wife, career woman is...? How do you balance your time between all of these?
I work on prioritising. Once they are clear then I try to fit other things in. When you are single it’s just you and your work but when you are married it’s you, your husband, your children, work etc. So I just prioritise everything. At the top of the list is my family, my work, my music and that takes precedence over everything else. Then it’s my social work, my friends, etc. So I make sure to balance them all.
Do you have a performance you are most proud of, or one that’s dearest to your heart?
I have done some lovely performances in a lot of films, but always in the space of goody, funny, romantic, sweet and emotional, but the one which stands out for me is Gulab Gang. It was a totally dark role and which I had a great time working on. It turned out so fantastic that even I was very impressed.
The toughest film I’ve ever had to shoot was Arjun Pandit, which was a lovely film. With Sunny Deol and directed by Rahul Rawail some years ago now. The film’s first half seemed like a romantic one, but the second half brought out me being almost the villian, which again had a negative shade. That film was the toughest because again me playing the negative role which was a little different and the action sequences which Sunny Deol was great at but not me. One of the most unnerving difficult sequences was the climax of the film, which had Sunny Ji and I shooting under a running train! Had Sunny Ji not been there with me, I think I would have either fainted or just frozen where I was, or my head would have just been chopped off. We were underneath the train while it was running over us, which was so frightening and disorienting that I kept wanting to raise my head, and had to repeatedly remind myself that if I raised my head even a couple of inches I would not have a head! So yes, it was one of my toughest films I have shot till date.
You’ve also been actively involved in encouraging radiation awareness through phones. Tell us about that.
I have two people very actively working with me on this, one is Mr.Prakash Munshi and one is Nilima Shirodkar. So the three of us are actively trying to bring awareness of long term overexposure to radiation and what it can do to your health. Very very simple, if god wanted you to have a piece of a radiating instrument next to your body he would’ve sent to this earth with a telephone attached to your ear, but he didn’t do it, we’re doing it. Mobile phones, wifi devices though we cannot see it are not working by magic, they’re working on air waves, these air waves are similar frequencies to microwaves. Overexposure to these air waves in the long term will affect your health is what I try to tell people. I do not mean to say that they must throw away their devices, but I certainly tell them they have to be more careful about how much they use them and how they use them.
Your favoruite travel destinations?
I have been to places as exotic as Peru, Argentina, Chile, Antartica, Spain, Canada and the States. That apart I have also been to Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Japan ,Pakistan, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, Austria, Australia Kwala Lumpur Philippines and many other destinations abroad. It has been fantastic as I have travelled a lot. It has been wonderful as I have been to destinations by the sea, in the snow, in the mountains! It has been a great life for which I thank god. Though my favourite holiday destination is London, which we keep going back to because we have home there. So every summer I have been going there for the past twelve to thirteen years. It is lovely! I would love taking my kids there in the summer when they were younger and just do simple things like cycle around the parks, play in the children’s area, feed the ducks and just have a good time.
You are a great follower of Yoga, your take on yoga? We hear you plan to open your own yoga center soon?
Yoga has got me focused as well as calmed me down as a person. Overall, it helps me just feel better. After each session of yoga, I feel so refreshed, calm and rejuvenated. It has given me a certain kind of inner strength. A certain self assurance from inside. It has also made me much more flexible. I now adapt more easily to situations and find myself being able to work much better around them, hence yoga has benefited me in a lot of positive ways. Yoga cannot be compartmentalized no matter how and when you begin, as if you are in it, it is like a journey within and everytime it takes you one step closer to yourself.
We have a property just outside of Mumbai by the river, which has a mango orchard and I have friends and colleagues Rachel and Yasmin who are very eager and keen to take forward this idea with me. The idea is to have people stay there, practice yoga, do pottery, learn organic farming and occupy themselves with therapeutic, healing and simple things which people love to do. I am really hoping the universe conspires and makes my dream come true of making a beautiful place, where people can come in for health, healing and yoga.