Juhi Chawla on Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga: We've told an unfamiliar story in a very familiar way

Juhi Chawla on Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga: We've told an unfamiliar story in a very familiar way

Juhi Chawla, who plays a prominent role in Shelly Chopra Dhar’s Sonam Kapoor-starrer Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, is happy that the cinegoers find the premise of the film intriguing. While the trailer hints at same sex relationship with the description — “unexpected romance of the year” and its hashtag “let love be” and Sonam probably playing a lesbian character — Juhi does not want to confirm anything. “I am happy that people are curious and baffled. The reaction that has been coming is, ‘What are we talking about’?,"  says the actress in an exclusive chat with Firstpost.

Given that India is currently celebrating the decriminalisation of homosexuality and topics relating to sexual inclusivity are finally at the forefront in our country, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga could not have come at a better time, to which Juhi promptly reacts, “This is the story, now whether it’s the right time, or it should have come earlier, whether it was long overdue, I am not getting into all that. You can make a familiar story in an unfamiliar way or you can make an unfamiliar story in a very familiar way and here we have an unfamiliar story told in a very familiar way. All the questions that people have in their mind, they will see them flowing in the film and feel amazed with what they have watched. Now whether the idea will be accepted or not? Well, I would love to know the audience view after they have seen it.”

The film has all the elements Juhi was looking for in a script. "I listen to a script and if it is entertaining, holds my attention, grabs me, I do it because I feel I am like an audience only. I also live in the same society. After I read the script I went ‘wow!’ in my head. I am definitely doing this film I thought. The way Shelly has said the story, at the end of the script session you feel what a brilliant mind this is coming from. This is one of the most well-crafted scripts I have come across. It is entertaining, amusing, there is warmth, romance, surprises, bonding, relationships and beautiful emotion. All these elements are very well knitted. And when everyone else is doing the film with so much conviction then there has to be something,” said Juhi, who plays a warm, middle class Punjabi woman.

“In fact, when this role was written and when I met Vinod ji (producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra), he said that he only had me in mind for the part. What is a better compliment to an actor than that? That was music to my ears,” laughs Juhi, further adding, “I play a charming little lady, Chhatro. Her children have grown up and she wants to pursue her dream. She starts a catering business and caters to a theatre production company. She befriends Sahil (played by Rajkummar Rao), who is the director of the theatre company. She also has this little secret desire of becoming an actor. She wants to be on stage."

Some lighthearted moments involving her character can be seen in the film promos and one cannot help but ask the actress the reason behind her impeccable comic timing, what she was known for in the '90s, and she says, “Perhaps because I used to read a lot of comics, so somewhere that must have influenced me. Whenever I used to go to libraries, I wouldn’t pick up novels or books but opt for comics like Archie, Asterix, Tarzan, Calvin & Hobbes, Garfield. But I give credit to my directors, my writers who have written roles in a cute and fun manner. Then the lines and situations also make it easy for actors.”

Co-written by Dhar and Gazal Dhaliwal, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga reunites Juhi and Anil Kapoor after over a decade. They were last seen together in Salaam-E-Ishq (2007) but some of their more popular collaborations include, Benaam Badsha, Andaz, Deewana Mastana and Loafer.  However, Juhi sounded more excited working with his daughter who she has seen grown into films, and the senior actress also felt that Sonam was perfect for the part. “Sonam fits the role beautifully. She is an evolved person and also has a soft and vulnerable face. When she does light, non-existent make-up she has this vulnerable look on her face which goes very well with the character she is playing. She has grown into films and knows about filmmaking herself, I also learnt a thing or two from her,” said Juhi.

She continues,“I am so happy working with these youngsters because for me it was like a breath of fresh air. Of course, it was lovely to work with Anil Kapoor but it was nice to be able to interact with the younger lot today. To know what they are thinking and how they approach their role, how they behave on sets...They are very hard-working, very focused."  Coming back to Anil Kapoor, she says, “I would always want to know from him that what did he eat. Now, while doing these interviews together I can understand how his mind works. I want to be like Anil Kapoor, I want to think like him (laughs heartily).”

Miss India-turned actress Juhi has had a prolific career, she proved her mettle with movies like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Darr, Yes Boss, Ishq, Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke and My Brother Nikhil among others. But roles have been few and far between in recent years. However, calling her journey a fulfilling one, she said, “I am happy that good directors who are making some interesting films have still got roles for me. That in itself is recognition from the industry. I’m just one call away for them and for me it is all about the script and good writing. It is not about the medium and not even about my role. I may have a great role but if the script is not good enough it is not going to work,” said the actress.

She is not too surprised about the phenomenal trend that was seen in Bollywood the previous year. “We have always believed that the script is king, and sooner or later the bubble had to burst. Just that it was more apparent last year. In quick succession some unusual, small budget films made their mark. But good films always told you that script is king, so it is not surprising or shocking. I think now everybody will take film-making more seriously and won’t take things for granted. But, yes, we just cannot discredit the stars saying that they are over. I think everybody, from stars to the newcomers will start looking at storylines more carefully,” said Juhi, who has recently approached for an action thriller. She is also waiting for her film, a comedy with Rishi Kapoor to roll. "Whenever there is something nice I will do it and people can keep that expectation of me,” she says.