So I was rewatching bits of Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman and considering how specific the Juhi-Shahrukh interactions are, especially from Shahrukh’s side, and I had a thought. And now I will look at their filmography and see if the thought I thought holds up.
Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992)
This is the one where it really struck me. The thing is, Juhi plays an average girl, not someone who stops traffic when she walks down the street or starts to dance or anything like that. And yet for Shahrukh’s character, she is the only thing that exists. Everything is about her, he wants a job so they can be together, he wants a house so they can be together, and when she leaves him it all falls apart. And that’s what makes Shahrukh and Gauri so unusual. Gauri is a wonderful woman, but she was just a nice normal girl when they met. And yet for Shahrukh, Helen of Troy has nothing on her. He lusts for her (especially back then, at least as he described it in interviews) to distraction. Her smile and frowns control his life. And that’s what we have here, nice normal average Juhi who falls into this relationship with a nice young man and then finds herself worshiped and desired as though she is the only woman in the world.
Hmm. This isn’t as good a fit. Shahrukh stalked Gauri, for sure, but in the context of a tumultuous relationship not as a near stranger. And it’s not like Gauri ever looked at anyone else, let alone wanted them. But there are still parts of it. If Shahrukh’s character’s fantasies were real, than it would be the story of him and Guari. He is the sad motherless boy obsessed with the girl he loves who will fill all the holes in his heart. She is the protected and spoiled happy girl in the big house, the one no one can imagine as connected to him. The sweet sunshine that doesn’t seem to fit with his darkness.
Now this one kind of works. Shahrukh’s crazy energy, desperation to impress her, willingness to change his life over to please her, that fits with his relationship with Gauri. Juhi is a little hesitant, a little scared of his passion, and her fear just makes him work harder, desperately afraid of losing her.
Yes Boss (1997)
Now, this doesn’t fit as well. The key to Gauri and Shahrukh’s relationship is that they met so young, they barely had baggage. If they had met as adults, yes, it would be this. She is pretty and confident and optimistic, he is restless and ambitious and at the same time with self-doubts. His outer confidence hides misery and this is what will hold him back from admitting his love. But meanwhile she is just there, smilingly waiting for it.
Can we possibly see Shahrukh as a doofus hotel chef and Gauri as the hotel manager who loves his stupidity? I don’t think so, this one is a wash.
Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000)
This is the outer Gauri and Shahrukh, the one where they are both confident and successful people juggling their relationship with the rest of their lives. This movie came out slightly before Gauri was at that point in her life, but perhaps is a sign of how much Shahrukh appreciated those aspects of her and wanted her to embrace them.
One 2 Ka 4 (2001)
Raising kids together! Getting through the madness of the day with her always being a little more connected to them and serving as a bridge between them and Shahrukh. And then at night sitting together and grabbing moments to share worries, to talk through plans. They are still different people, but as they co-parent together those differences get smoothed out, it becomes a matter of filling gaps within each other more than conflict.
Now, here’s the challenge! Shahrukh has to still play the young lover, but Juhi/Gauri is matured into someone with a lot more in her life than just a love story. So while Shahrukh is playing the lover who, Juhi/Gauri is a mother, a friend, a leader in the household. Perhaps also a sign of who they are in reality? While Gauri has a million responsibilities, when he is home Shahrukh just wants to be silly and free.
And the happy ending (for now) of the Shahrukh and Juhi/Gauri relationship. She is the happy light of the home that raises his children and takes care of things while he goes off working.
Hmm. This didn’t work out completely perfectly, but still better than you would expect. I think it is partly their natural chemistry from the start, his nervous energy versus her happiness. And their natural characters and how they aged into them, a young woman who would be smiley and cheerful at 22, will grow into one who will be talkative and confident at 27, and so on. Just as a manic passionate young man will grow into one who has learned how to laugh at himself and direct his energy. That chemistry at the beginning was lightening in a bottle, and naturally it was similar to the chemistry they have with their real life partners (Jay sent Juhi flowers every day for over a year, including a truckload of red roses for her birthday, before she agreed to marry him). As they aged, and their marriages aged, and their real life partners aged, the pattern continued.
Looking back, that same magical chemistry is there for Shahrukh with Divya Bharti, Kajol, even Urmila Matondkar. But they didn’t keep working with him, they didn’t grow up with him, and so we don’t have this strange real-reel parallel to look at.