Happy Birthday Juhi Chawla! A Reminder of the Many Ways You Are Wonderful

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, Juhi! Her actual birthday is tomorrow, and we will of course be celebrating with a Juhi WatchAlong, but I wanted to put up this post today so you all remember why we are celebrating her.

Juhi was born to an IRS office (I just assume he was as sexy as Ajay in Raid) in Ambala (modest urban area in Punjab). And then when she was 17, she won the Miss India contest. And then “best costume” at Miss Universe. This started her modeling career, and then her film career. As is usual for the model-type actresses, she started with a few regional roles and then migrated to Hindi film for her first big launch film, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak at age 21 in 1988.

Aamir gets all the buzz and excitement about QSQT, like he was the amazing new talent that made the film work. But really, Juhi was just as important. Her youth, her charm, her confidence mixed with naivety, even her light hand with comedy, it all made this film feel special. Even if the critics didn’t pick her out, the industry did. After QSQT, Juhi’s career took off. By 1992, when she first co-starred with her future business partner Shahrukh Khan, she was the top actress in Hindi film. The hits came one after the other, in every genre, until 1996 when she hit a sudden down turn (this was also the peak of the Madhuri versus Juhi debate). She came back with another hit, Yes Boss. In 2000, she and her frequent co-star and friend Shahrukh Khan, along with the director who first brought them together Aziz Mirza, founded a studio Dreamz Unlimited. Juhi had her first child in 2001 and took a step back from the studio, which was going through a bad period. Eventually Shahrukh dissolved the partnership to save the friendship, and refounded the company as Red Chillies with Juhi still owning a large stake in it.

Juhi after the birth of her children and the dissolution of the studio has created one of the most interesting post-fame careers in Hindi cinema. She mixes small interesting roles in mainstream hits (like Salaam-E-Ishq as the betrayed wife), with larger parts in out there art films like I Am and My Brother Nikhil.

Juhi onscreen is a happy presence, she excels at comedy, or light romance. In a drama, she becomes even more powerful, this happy presence surrounded by darkness. Which makes it hard to remember that her personal life is filled with tragedy. In 1997, Juhi’s mother came with her to the shoot of Duplicate in Prague. And was randomly hit by a car and killed. Juhi was in shock, her co-star and friend Shahrukh supported her, and somehow she survived this random tragedy. Then in 2010, her brother Bobby (the CEO of Red Chillies, her and Shahrukh’s company) suffered a stroke in the middle of the night and slipped into a coma. For four years, he survived without waking up, until he finally died. And during those 4 years, Juhi lost her sister to cancer.

Of course, the tragedies of her personal life are never discussed, just as her personal life in general is never discussed. Juhi is a very private person, for a major movie star, studio co-owner, and former Miss India. She quietly married in 1995 an industrialist from an old Indian business family, Jay Mehta. In one interview I read about their marriage, Juhi mentioned in passing that part of what makes their partnership special is a similar history of tragedy, Jay having lost his first wife in a plane crash 5 years before he and Juhi married. Juhi has two children, who are almost never photographed and kept out of the limelight. Jay is her faithful companion to all events, but rarely steps forward, and never gives interviews. Even her friendship with Mega Famous Shahrukh is rarely discussed. They are loving and close in the few public appearances they make together, and their business relationship is still in place, and of course as co-stars they have a special warmth. But there are no joint interviews looking back on their mutual careers, no promotion of their friendship as something unusual, none of that. For Juhi, what burns brightest is her face onscreen, in films. The other Juhi, the real Juhi, lives her life in the shadows.

With that in mind, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUHI! Here are my favorite songs of yours.

Who can resist “Mr. Lova Lova”?

Gotta include “Jaadu Teri Nazar”

Just for my friend who has an unhealthy obsession, and also because it is a great example of her comedy, “Ladna Jhagadna”

For her charming naivety that made her a star, “Gazab Ka Hai Din”

And for my favorite example of her later artistic phase, being the smiling pregnant member of the audience for “Tu Aashiqui Hai”

And finally, to prove she is just as charming as ever, “Good Morning” from her latest movie.

Now, tell me, what are your favorite Juhi songs? Movies? Moments? If I haven’t reviewed them already, this might be the week when you have your chance!

22 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Juhi Chawla! A Reminder of the Many Ways You Are Wonderful

  1. I knew about her tragedies but I’m not sure I ever put it all together. Interestingly Shah Rukh and Juhi are rarely at the same KKR games…or at least not in the stands together. I think that has to do with her sense of privacy. When he is there the cameras pan to him constantly; when only she and Jay are there, the cameras picture once or twice. I do love her and she is one of the “mature” actresses I wish Shah Rukh would act with again.
    On another note: have we ever discussed his naive, sexually nervous characters like the one in duplicate or the contrast between the two look alikes…he does that shy ‘virginal’ man well. Does anyone else?

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    • Oooo, I love this question about “virginal” heroes! I think there are a lot of them, and it’s an interesting thing to think about, the “virginal” hero in Indian film and why it is appealing.

      On Thu, Nov 12, 2020 at 8:26 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • and who does it best. In western film an adult virgin man is usually a nerd as well. Does that apply in Indian cinema? One of the reasons I like Duplicate, silly as it may be, is the ability of Shah Rukh to show what makes the bad one, bad. When the bad one is ‘making love’ to his girlfriend who likes it, he is aggressive and demanding …like RNBDJ not enough credit is given to Shah Rukh for the two roles and switching back and forth sometimes in the same take.

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  2. Don’t think they own Red Chillies together, if not she and her husband wouldn’t be listed as separate co-owners for the Cricket Team I’d guess.

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    • You are right. Juhi has no stake in Red Chillies. Dreamz was dissolved precisely so that they stop mixing friendship with business. RCE is fully owned by SRK and Gauri. They partnered up with the Mehta Group for KKR. Red Chillies owns 55% and Sea Islands Limited (shell company of Mehta Group) owns 45%.
      Juhi has talked about it saying she has nothing to do with the cricket stuff – it’s handled by her husband.
      They rarely ever attend the same matches. My guess is that they’ve split the “work load” so to speak so someone is there to cheer the team and both don’t have to waste time for the same matches.

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  3. This, without a doubt:

    Swarg is my favourite Govinda movie and Juhi is great in it. That song has a perfect visualisation, in my opinion. Not a bad shot in it. This one is also good:

    I liked her paired with Govinda, because they had a very similar energy and seem very friendly with each other. I especially liked them together in Swarg and Deewana Mastana, because in both Govinda was in a subservient/less powerful position and his character would idolise her, and that worked really well. Those roles both also have comic relements which she is great at.

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  4. I started watching Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke when I woke up in the middle of the night last night because she won best actress for it. I’ve almost started fast forwarding to her scenes, but thankfully she is in most of the scenes, so for now I’ve restrained myself. I’m only half way through. My favorite movie with her is Yes Boss. She takes an unlikeable person, someone searching for a rich man to marry, and makes her sympathetic. But my favorite song? Well right now it is the title song from Gulaab Gang because EVIL JUHI is fantastic! But if you haven’t seen the movie, the video would be meaningless. But I’ve seen the movie, and I just got to explain to my children that the smiling woman was evil while the one attacking people with a knife was good. A good start to my day! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9mhEbBW5U8

    Liked by 1 person

    • She is so great in Hum Hain Rahe Pyar Ki!!! So delightfully young and fun with the kids, but also sexy and grown up with Aamir. And, even though Juhi isn’t in the scene, be sure to watch the song when all the shirt ladies sexually harass Aamir.

      On Thu, Nov 12, 2020 at 10:44 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. I like Juhi as actor. I first noticed her in a typical Telugu commercial film of 80s with Nagarjuna – this was one of my favourite songs at that time – check dance steps and costumes.

    In Hindi, I got to know her in Hum hai rahee pyarke, Raju bangata gentleman, etc. But I like all songs in Yes Boss, especially the below song a lot

    BTW, in early 90s out of Madhuri, Karishma, Juhi and Kajol, Juhi used to have the bold pics on film magazines [other than 2nd level like Mamta and Raveena]

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  6. Another Juhi note. Since Pahelli itself is rarely discussed, her role in it isn’t either. She is superb and as the loving, supportive, but dark, sad past sister in law. Its a small part, but important.

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    • Yes, she is the perfect contrast to our heroine, a sign of what her marriage could have been like. Not torture, still with a pleasant life and people around, but lonely.

      On Thu, Nov 12, 2020 at 12:58 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. I’m very fond of Minty. I don’t know, she just seems like she’s having so much fun with that character.

    Agreed that she’s especially great at comedy. Something about the way she uses her face to get laughs reminds me of Lucille Ball.

    Maybe it’s just that they both get that slightly foolish but tenacious type of character. Juhi could kill in some of Lucy’s classic plotlines though. Can’t you picture this one, adapted to an Indian rail trip?

    https://www.paleycenter.org/collection/item/?q=i+love+lucy&p=2&item=B:19743

    Anyway, best birthday wishes to Juhi, may she enjoy as much happiness as she’s given to others!

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    • Yes! I want her to do more straight comedy! She has so much fun with those roles, like Minty, that are just over the top and crazy. And she still always manages to make us care about the characters.

      On Fri, Nov 13, 2020 at 11:50 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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