There have been plenty of changes in Bollywood – people are more organised, there are more women in the industry and infrastructure has improved, says actor-filmmaker Juhi Chawla, who made her debut 25 years ago with “Sultanat”.
“There have been plenty of changes in the industry and a lot of them are for the better. The technique and infrastructure have immensely improved; the number of women working in the industry has also increased. Earlier, it used to be just me and my mother on sets, but today we see women working as assistant directors, costume designers and what not,” Juhi said.
“People are more organised today. They have scripts ready before hand. In our time, it was not like that. The looks have also changed – earlier it was all traditional, while today they are more modern.
“I won’t say content has changed or deteriorated or it has become superior; there are still good writers who write interesting stories,” she added.
The 43-year-old actor has worked in about 90 films and has produced four movies. Comparing the two roles, Juhi says being a producer is a more daunting task than being an actor.
“Being an actor is the easiest. Producers and directors have a lot more to do. They really have to be on their toes in order to get everything ready – from scripting to actual production work. It is a challenging task,” she said.
“As an actor your job is just to listen to what is required from you and perform. There is so much more to it when it comes to production,” she added, flashing her captivating smile. The actress was in the capital to launch three new variants of “Kurkure” made of moong daal, urad daal and chana dal.
Last seen in critically acclaimed “I AM”, Juhi’s first commercial success came in 1988 with “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak” alongside Aamir Khan. After that there was no looking back for Juhi who went on to give hits like “Darr”, “Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke” and “Ishq”.
After marriage with businessman Jai Mehta in 1998, the former beauty queen branched into art house cinema with “3 Deewarein”.
In 2000, she also started taking interest in the business side of showbiz by venturing into production with superstar Shah Rukh Khan and director Aziz Mirza – the trio formed Dreamz Unlimited and produced movies like “Asoka”, “Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani” and “Chalte Chalte.”
Later she and Shah Rukh launched Red Chillies Entertainment. Juhi is also the co-owner of the Indian Premier League team Kolkata Knight Riders.
Experimental cinema has found a firm foothold in Bollywood, but Juhi is happy to see that masala films are still popular.
“One thing that I would say has not changed is that two-three percent of the films are still outstanding and interesting. The films with a lot of masala and dhamaal are big hits of the year, while some are average. That statistics has more or less remained the same,” she said.
Does she think glamour is given more importance over good script in movies?
“Some directors and producers, who don’t have the conviction to stay with their story and are unable to tell their story, tend to bend towards these things. It is believed that women in skimpy clothes will sell or involving an item number in the film will help, but others like Rajkumar Hirani, who believe in their subjects wouldn’t require all that. Their films speak for themselves,” she said.
The actress says that audiences are intelligent enough to understand what’s worth watching.
“Audience is smart enough. They know when something is forced into the film; they themselves don’t appreciate it.
“At the same time they would love to see pretty girls and lovely clothes, item numbers. But if it is not placed correctly people will reject it,” she said.
By Priyanka Sharma