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Under the arc lights again

Juhi Chawla is back in movies after motherhood, shooting for Nagesh Kukunoor's `Three Walls'.


Juhi Chawla is all ears.

BUBBLY, EFFERVESCENT, lively - these describe Juhi Chawla. One of the first beauty queens to have entered Bollywood a decade ago, she has entrenched herself not just as an actress but also as a producer.

Returning to films after motherhood, Juhi is into `serious' and `unglamorous' roles something outside the mainstream cinema roles she has played. In Hyderabad to shoot for Metalight Productions' `Three Walls' directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, Juhi spoke about herself and her projects in between shots at the Musheerabad Jail.

Juhi's decision to act in Three Walls came about because of the script. "Four months ago when I was given a script (a bound one which is rare) I started to read and I couldn't put it down. In about half an hour I had read the whole thing. It kept my interest alive so I feel that it will keep viewers interest alive too," she confesses.

For a change Juhi is essaying a different role - a `deglamourised' one evident from the attire she wore for the shot - a blue Bengal cotton saree with a printed blouse with minimal makeup. "Basically I come in as a documentary filmmaker but as the film unfolds it takes a twist in the end and you realise that she is a documentary filmmaker but the whole intention of coming here to tape these convicts was not just to make a study of them - there is something more deeper which gets revealed in the last 20-25 minutes,'' she says expanding on the role. "It's amazing that I have started doing these kind of films,'' she reveals.

The other Hinglish movie she is doing is Jhankar Beats - a more funny, happy kind of film, a directorial debut venture of Sujoy for Pritish Nandy Communications. She will be shooting for Dil vil pyaar vyaar (another Metalight production venture) from April.

As a producer, her optimism was quite high when she spoke about Asoka. "I wouldn't call it dismal but it has not done as well as we expected.

Actually it didn't do badly either. It is counted amongst the top ten Hindi films in the US. It did well in U.K., South Africa, Dubai and Singapore. We made Asoka with a certain mindset, eventually it became bigger even budget wise.

We knew that the film had its limitations as a subject. We knew it would not be for the masses, it is a niche kind of film."

How is she managing a career and motherhood? "It all falls into place. I just started shooting. Next three months I am tied up.


METHOD ACTORS: Juhi and Jackie Shroff.

Then it may ease off if I don't sign on any more ventures," she replies. Her face brightens up when she speaks of her daughter. "At home the set-up is there with my aunt and maids fussing over her. She is crazy about Jai. So she doesn't seem to miss me," she says with her impish smile.

Juhi's passion is music. "One thing I really wanted to be when I was young (in school) was a playback singer.

" Lataji was and is still her role model. "Now I have the time and I want to learn it and see if I can make something out of it." Juhi's music master Sanjay Mishra accompanied her to Hyderabad. "When I hit the right note it's a great high, until then it's a struggle because it's not easy." Her learning procedure is different.

"My teacher mixes things - he makes me do a lot of voice exercises, sing swaras. And you have to do it tons of times to get it right. Music is the only thing I do not find an excuse to skip."

On the trend of beauty queens entering Bollywood, she said, `The girls entering Miss India are more of international standards - tall, beautiful and well groomed.

Why should they not step into the film world? A lot of them realise that it's not just about having the perfect figure, the perfect made-up face.

Acting, they will learn, is a little more personal and requires a little more sensitivity. To be an actress they will have to extend themselves a little more,'' she says before moving on to the next shot.

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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