Juhi Chawla on working with Rishi Kapoor in Sharmaji Namkeen
In recent years, she has been part of unique web series and films such as The Test Case and Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga
Juhi Chawla is among those actresses from the ’90s, such Madhuri Dixit Nene and Raveena Tandon, who are once again in the spotlight for the unique and interesting roles they are bagging today. In recent years, she has been part of unique web series and films such as The Test Case and Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga. Now Juhi is back on screen with Sharmaji Namkeen in which she plays a key role. The late Rishi Kapoor is cast as Sharmaji in this movie that chronicles the life of a retired gentleman who finds purpose in his life again.
“The film will make you laugh and cry. The moments are so real, relatable and normal. It seems like this story is unfolding in someone’s house. I felt the script was just brilliant,” says Juhi. The actress says that Sharmaji’s character is unforgettable. “Chintuji (Rishi Kapoor) is the heart and soul of the film. As an artiste, I was envious of him and whenever we discussed the scenes and whenever the lines were read out. I could imagine him saying those lines,” reminisces the actress. Rishi Kapoor had shot a major part of the film in 2019 before he took a break due to his illness, and unfortunately passed away. After his demise, the producers decided to complete the film and roped in Paresh Rawal to replace him.
This change was significant and Juhi says it took a few moments before she could adapt to it, and go with the flow. “The first day I shot with Pareshji, I just wondered about life. There I was, a few months ago, working with Chintuji and he was no longer around. But gradually I accepted it and moved on,” says the actress who recollects her childhood memories of Rishi Kapoor. She reveals how Kapoor’s debut film Bobby had an immense impact on her. At that time, she never thought that one day she would become an actress and be cast opposite him in films such as Daraar, Eena Meena Deeka and Bol Radha Bol. “I was a little kid when I watched Bobby and then everything revolved around Bobby. I would wear ‘Bobby’ clips and go to school,” she says, adding, “I have so many anecdotes with him. He would grumble sometimes, he would scold sometimes, and at times he would just make us laugh. He was the most effortless and selfless actor and a natural perfor mer. I remember how we used to play Scrabble between shots. He was a champion. He would win eight out of 10 times and I would manage to win twice and would be jubilant.”
Though the film is not going to have a theatrical release unlike her previous films, Juhi is happy about going on OTT. She thinks the web space offers a lot of scope for storytelling. “You don’t have to finish telling a story in two-and -a-half-hours, and the story can be as long as 10 hours. You need many characters and each of these can be explored well, and this is a big plus. But I have a complaint — there’s too much violence being shown and a lot of things being exposed, which is quite unnecessary,” she offers.
It’s this candidness and honesty that the actress uses to get her point across, not just about her movies but also about the causes she cares for. In 2021, Juhi was in the news for filing a petition against 5G technology. She had urged the government to release data from the 5G research and to certify that it’s safe for citizens. People wondered what really pushed Juhi to take up a cause and fight for it. “There was a time when I never thought about social causes. But then life happened, and then once you have children, everything changes and you look at the world differently. I became more conscious of how we are treating our environment. When I got to know about the damage, that’s when I felt I had to talk about it. I felt perhaps this was the reason I was destined to be an actor,” she concludes.
Streaming on Amazon Prime Video