After more than 10 years, we finally see co-stars Juhi Chawla and Anil Kapoor reunite on the big screen in Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga.
Directed by Shelly Chopra Dhar, this is Bollywood’s first depiction of a same sex romcom, following India decriminalising homosexuality in September last year, where a young woman must contend with a family that wants her to get married, a writer who is completely smitten with her and a secret that she harbours close to her heart.
FabUK Asia caught up with actress Juhi Chawla, following the release of Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga, working with Anil Kapoor again and much more.
Juhiji, the last film you did a film with Anil Kapoor was in 2007. How does it feel to be working with him again?
“It was absolutely wonderful. We have done a number of films earlier in my career with him and our last was Salaam-E-Ishq. He has always been very committed and a very hard-working person. He was then and he is today as well. I was familiar with him and his style of working and he likes to rehearse and he likes to get the shot right. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with him and more so I think it was more exciting working with him and Sonam together. I have seen her on our sets when she was a very young teenager. In Deewana Mastana we had done a 30-day schedule in Switzerland and Anilji brought his family along so they would visit us on set and hang out. To be working with Sonam and Anilji was a double pleasure.”
What was it about the Gazal Dhaliwal and Shelly Chopra Dhar’s script that made you decide to sign the film?
“When I got the call from VCP Films, Vinod (Chopra) had been producing some of my favourite films of recent times. Whether it was the Munna Bhai series, PK or 3 Idiots, he has made fantastic films. So when you get a call from a producer like that you just know that they’ve got something. Here is a story worth telling otherwise they would not be telling it. I went to the office to meet the director, Shelly Chopra Dhar, she sat me down and she read me the script. By the end I had enjoyed the whole script so much that I was like “I’m definitely doing this”, because this is a script, which tells you an unfamiliar story in a very familiar way. It’s full of surprises, full of friendship, family bonding and values. It’s that lovely territory that you know, that you can identify with completely. This film surprises you, it’s got fun, it’s got warmth, it’s got emotion and I think it’s the most beautiful package. And I think you should see this film to know what I’m saying.”
What are some of your best memories from being on the sets and for this film?
“My first day of shooting was in Mumbai and then after that we went off to Patiala to shoot the home scenes as the whole film is set in North India in a small town. After that we were shooting in Chandigarh. In Patiala it was winter, very cold and we had night shoots. We were shooting in a big house and all of us would huddle up and chat, passing time in between shots. It was real fun. In the daytime, even though we shoot in the night, you can’t sleep the whole day, so in the afternoon I would go for a walk. Anilji would be cycling, lifting weights, skipping rope in the garden with his trainer. He really works hard at his fitness, works hard to look good, and works hard on the sets. He’s so much fun. I also found Sonam to be a warm chatty person. She always wanted to know how things used to be when I used to shoot with Anilji earlier and how we used to do things earlier. Very often she would be on the phone browsing, looking for gifts for Sunitaji (her mother) and she would tell me what the latest trends were and what’s going on. She was really fun and it was great working with her. Sonam also told me how she had been an assistant to Sanjay Leela Bhansaliji for about 2-3 years and that’s how she knew film making so well. I was amazed at how much she knew about film making, editing, lenses and cameras and shots and how it ought to be taken or should be taken. I was amazed at her, really Sonam surprised me very pleasantly.”
What can we expect from your Chatro, your character?
“Let me put it this way, Vinod Chopra called me up for this film and when I returned his call he said ‘Juhi, when we wrote the film and I was writing this character, I thought you were going to play this role. This role has either been written with you in mind or once we’ve written it there is only you can play it the way it has been written.’ I was so thrilled; it’s a wonderful compliment to an actor. This role is warm, fun, cute, and sensitive. It’s what a lot of people have seen me doing and have liked me doing over the years.”
With such a prominent and talented cast, tell us Juhi, who forgot their lines the most?
“In this film, we’ve had a wonderful star cast. Actors who are really solid whether its Rajkummar Rao, Anilji, Madhumaltiji who plays Anilji’s mother, Sonam Kapoor and a host of other character artists, one better than the other who are either theatre artists, each one was wonderful. So forgetting lines there is no chance. In fact a lot of them have improvised on their role and made it even more believable and even more real which have brought their characters alive. I am so happy, it’s a great feeling when you have worked in a good film, your role is nice but even more than that the film is fantastic. I think this is one of those films I will always be happy and proud about that I was a part of this team.”
Thank you Juhiji for your time and we wish you and all the Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga team all the best.
Written by Sheena Sedani