Juhi Chawla: Don't think I'm such a good actress to play Salman Khan's mother
The actress who was a popular name in the 90s – Juhi Chawla, was last seen in GULAAB GANG, and after a brief gap, she has also chosen to play a teacher in CHALK N DUSTER. We had the opportunity to interview the lovely actress and know more about the movie.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
|JUHI CHAWLA PHOTO GALLERY|
Is there any particular reason for saying yes to CHALK N DUSTER?
It’s not like I’m getting a script everyday. As and when people come, I listen to the script and it has to move me or be something which I read and say wow. I’ve got to do this because now I don’t want to be working on anything. I work because I love it, so I had to love what I do. In this case, it was the script and the depth of it. Before the script came along, I didn’t think of my teacher in the way I am now, yet she is the person we all know. It wasn’t just the story - there was so much more to take home from it. It’s a very good screenplay and has got an elevating end. When you watch CHALK N DUSTER, you’ll come out feeling happy and nostalgic.
What message do you want to convey through CHALK N DUSTER
Actually all that I said is all the things that I want you to realize. There are some lovely dialogues. Again, one just comes in passing but imagine what we’ve forgotten- your modern day gurus, who are your teachers. You can’t go beyond anybody you meet in life who helps you or gives you knowledge. Like they say in the film, ‘Agar guru aur gobind saamne khade ho, toh yeh prashna hota hai ki kiske pair pehle chu?’ Can you image this happening? That whose feet you should touch first because they are both so high. It means your teacher is as high as God but is anyone behaving that way today? Then there’s another time in the film where I question (we are talking about respect or something) and I say ‘Respect? Respect is only for celebrities, politicians and cricketers. Have you ever invited your teacher to cut a ribbon at events or launches? That means you’re not giving them respect!’
'A script has to move me or be something which I read and say wow'
How was it playing a teacher?
When I heard the script, I was a little nervous just because the people in the story are very real people and somehow, I could see Shabanaji (Azmi) playing Vidya Sawant very easily. I wasn’t sure about what I was supposed to do because I played a totally negative character in my last film GULAAB GANG. It was like I am supposed to play normal but I’d still like to remain interesting and in this I must be real as well. I was confused and didn’t know what I should look like or how I should behave. I have to confess that I has plans to study the character well before I went on to play it, but I eventually I went in without any real preparations. Playing a teacher was all very well and the whole journey has made me realize a lot of things. For instance, we’ve all been to school and had great fun by making friends, bunking class, getting punished and you’ve always seen a teacher as someone who gives you homework, tests, but you’ve never really thought about her and you’ve grown and become who you are today and that lady (teacher) has laid the foundations of our personality today. How many of us have even though that let me at least thank her or find out about her? Such things came to light when I was reading the very interesting story. CHALK N DUSTER is also very relatable because we’ve lived this. We all know teachers yet we know nothing about their world. This film is going to open your eyes to things that might be happening in their lives.
Are you in touch with your school teachers?
I recently got in touch with my school and told them that I realized what a teacher does for you after working on this movie. I wish to book a show just for all the teachers of my school. Many of them may not be there from my time, but after all it’s my school. I wrote to them and told them about it.
Have you got any punishment during your school days? Were you a naughty kid?
I was not very naughty. Mera dil bada hota tha ke kuch naughty karu par kuch sujhta nahi tha (I wanted to do a lot of naughty things but nothing struck me) and then you always wanted a gang of friends, not the only one getting punished. Like I can remember, during one assembly I must have been in some happy mood, I was jabbering away to my friends and I didn’t realize the teacher saw me. So when I filed out of assembly and was going to class, the teacher called me and I was clueless about what happened! She was our English teacher and her first period was in 9th standard and I was in 7th standard at that time, she made me stand outside the 9th standard while she took her lecture. I stood in that corridor in front of my seniors and got insulted in front of them. You know, you look up to your seniors and they are like little Goddesses because they were senior. I was into tears that time, but can’t even cry because how could you in front of so many girls? After that I didn’t say a word for the next two three years in assembly as I was so afraid to get punished. While that was just one punishment, I have got a couple more.
Would you like to be a teacher in real life?
Actually, now again after my kids, I’ve realized what fun it is to teach them; to make them to understand. My daughter is studious and she does her work so well that I never have to say anything to her. But my son he is all over the place. I love sitting and teaching Arjun (my son) and it’s such a joy when they understand. I try to make it as simple and fun. We go and sit in garden and I try to make the atmosphere very relaxing. Now I understand why people become teachers - because when your child actually understands what you are trying to say to them it’s a very fulfilling feeling. All my life I never wanted to be a teacher and now I am getting so much joy in it. While we were doing this film, I also realized that the reason they continue to be teachers is because teaching is the only profession which makes all other professions possible. You in your profession will go from running place to place to have cabin of your own to one day owning that space, but your teacher remains in that staff room from the beginning to the end. What a sacrifice that it is! She did not have that ambition that you have; she just wanted to teach children. She has given her whole life to teaching kids and what a big contribution it is to your life! She never has an office of her own and we never thank those people. So, that’s the kind of thing - when I read this whole thing and the way it was moving, it’s a very interesting story. We have got to do this.
A lot of women-centric films are being made now, what do you have to say about that?
It’s very nice and encouraging that such movies are coming. What I want from the audience is that if they also want to see such films, they need to come to the theatre because if they don’t, these films won’t be made again. I think Shabanaji’s viewpoint on this is also very interesting and I’ve not heard that before - that why don’t heroes lend their name and come forward and sometimes do a smaller role in women centric role? That surely boosts the whole film!
There have been reports that Deepika Padukone has now hiked her fees; also, there is a huge pay gap between the hero and heroine, what do you have to say about this?
I don’t think there’s anything to think about because this isn’t a new phenomenon. Even when you talk about women-centric films, Shabana ji is Shabana ji today because ANKUR, ARTH were made that time. In some film or the other, women have played strong roles. We may have forgotten about that and are saying such films are being made now, but Tabu became Tabu because she did ASTITVA and some other films in which she was playing a central strong role. This has been going on for a while. Heroes were paid more in the 90s and they’re being paid more now. I don’t see a change immediately. I think, rather than complain about it or say what can be done, just enjoy and do your work. Deepika is rising in her own way. What we used to get paid in the 90s is like a fraction of what the girls are being paid today. Probably, the heroines before me will think the same way that they were being paid a fraction of what I was being paid. It’s rising.
'I love sitting and teaching my son'
Did you ever raise the pay gap question to the filmmaker in the 90s?
I feel I wouldn’t want to compete with the hero or anybody, because eventually in life, the competition is not about you and someone else, but you with your earlier self. If you’re better than what you were yesterday and tomorrow will be even better, you’re rising. If Deepika has grown from being a 10 lac heroine to a 10 crore heroine, she has risen. Why does she need to compete with a Shah Rukh Khan or an Aamir Khan or anybody? She is Deepika Padukone, who will carry herself forward. Doing work, she may go to 20 crore! She doesn’t need to look here and there. That goes for everybody, and this is a life lesson.
Priyanka Chopra is the first Asian to win the people’s choice award, what would you like to say to her?
I’m obviously happy for her because I truly like her. She’s a lovely girl, who carries herself with dignity and she has been bettering herself with every film. She is surprising you with her range. Today it’s the global world. Earlier, say the heroines of the 50s or 60s, were only cinema. Luckily, for us in the 90s, Television came along and you could expand. Today, with Priyanka and Deepika, you can expand beyond Indian boundaries because of internet, television and all, you go global. So it is growing and she’s growing with it.
You have done many films with Shah Rukh, will we get to see you with him in a film again?
I wish there was a plan I could tell you about. As and when something nice comes along, I’d be more than happy to do it, but it has to come.
Shah Rukh’s intolerance comment has had an effect on his film DILWALE. Do you think it is wrong on the audiences’ part to abandon an actor’s film based on his comments?
I completely agree when you say the film isn’t his alone. If you are agitated with him, don’t remove your anger on the film because a lot of people’s efforts have gone behind the film. That’s where I would begin and end because I don’t think I want to add to this anymore.
Recently on ‘Bigg Boss’, Salman Khan said he’d want you to play his mother’s role. If you’re offered such a script, would you take it up?
I think we won’t go that far. I don’t think I am such a good actress that I can play his mother.
'If you are agitated with Shah Rukh Khan, don’t remove your anger on the film'
What next after CHALK N DUSTER?
I also don’t know about it.
Would you like to change anything about the film industry?
There are filmmakers who make very nice films but are small budget films and they don’t get a release. It’s a struggle for them to get the film into the theatres and give it a presentation. I wish this part changed and some big studios would encourage and nurture these films.