In an exclusive interview with DARPAN, the beautiful actress shares her special plans for the festival this year and her favourite Diwali moments.
Cover Credits: Photo by Ram Bherwani, Makeup by Naima, Hair by Natasha
Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated every year with great excitement and positivity. It is a day that symbolizes light, hope and the triumph of good over evil. Diwali holds a special place for Bollywood’s charming actress, Juhi Chawla. She celebrates it with her family in a traditional manner and looks forward to the festival every year. “For me, Diwali is like a celebration, a celebration of being Indian,” expresses Juhi, who has won millions of hearts through her impactful performances in films like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), Bol Radha Bol (1992), Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke (1993), Darr (1993), and Ishq (1997), among many others. The talented star will be seen playing some incredible roles on the big screen in 2019.
How do you usually celebrate Diwali?
I insist that we are at home for Diwali. It is time away from school, so everyone is very tempted to go for a holiday, but I say, “No way. For Diwali you have to be home because Ma Lakshmi is coming to the house and you better be there to welcome her.” So we are always at home. During the day, we go to Jay’s [Juhi’s husband] office for puja (prayer), followed by lunch with everybody from the office. In the evening, we light lamps all around the house. When the kids were little, we lit little firecrackers around the house but I am so happy that my kids didn’t like it, and they don’t like firecrackers at all. Sometimes, we visit our friend’s homes, they have little card parties so we join in to have a laugh and enjoy ourselves.
What does the word Diwali mean to you?
For me, Diwali is like a celebration, a celebration of being Indian. When the word Diwali pops up, all I can think of is getting dressed, decorating the house, placing torans, creating a rangoli, lighting diyas, doing puja and having a festive time with the family.
What are you planning for Diwali this year?
This year Diwali will be a little quieter than normal because my children recently started boarding school so they will be away. But apart from that, it will be the usual where I will be involved in decorating the home beautifully and drawing beautiful rangolis everywhere. There will be puja and meeting with family and friends. So it will be beautiful.
What has been the most memorable Diwali so far?
I get very excited when my birthday is around Diwali. In my life, once or twice Diwali has fallen on the very next day of my birthday. In 2012, Diwali was on my birthday and on the same day was releasing Son of Sardaar (2012). That year, we had also become Indian Premier League (IPL) champions for the first time. Also our film, I Am (2011), of which I was one of the producers, had won the National Award for Best Hindi Film and Best Lyrics. So that year I was so excited about Diwali because I felt it was a blessed year.
Are you associated with any social work or charitable organizations during Diwali?
I am associated with social work and charitable organizations all through the year. I have been supporting kids suffering from thalassemia from poor families. I have been supporting special children from poor families and their education. I have also now recently been contributing to a NGO which is an association of doctors who treat poor children free of cost.
Tell us a good and not-so-good thing about Diwali, according to you?
I love everything about Diwali. The one thing I do not like at all is the firecrackers. I feel they are such a waste of money. We are anyway polluting the air so much that we really don’t need to add to it by bursting crackers.
Diwali is also a time for fashion, what is Diwali dressing for you?
I love getting dressed up for Diwali. I feel it is a day when you must wear new clothes and of course, I choose Indian wear because our Indian clothes are so beautiful and colourful. My fashion tip would be to keep it light and pretty and keep it Indian.
There are a lot of trends associated with Diwali like card parties, themed Diwali parties and so on. Do you follow any of these trends?
I don’t follow trends, I prefer to follow traditions. But I do go to my friend’s homes; they like to host card parties. I go there and spend some time with them, we play cards with small stakes so that nobody is pinched too much, but at the same time you can have a laugh and lots of fun.
Do share a Diwali health tip.
This is not necessarily a Diwali tip; it is a good tip always. Whenever you have had a heavy meal or on Diwali you have been gorging on sweets and good, rich food, then I think it is wise to have green tea after your meals or ginger-lemon tea or tulsi (basil) tea. It is best to have those drinks so that you are better able to digest what you have just eaten.
What are your views on an eco-friendly Diwali?
My views on an eco-friendly Diwali are very strong and totally supportive. I am very happy when I hear that children are being taught to avoid crackers and are explained why. Little children then come home and tell their parents that they don’t need crackers, which is beautiful.
Which project are you working on at the moment? Do share your future plans?
I have completed my shooting for Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga. It is a Vidhu Vinod Chopra production, directed by Shelly Chopra Dhar and co-starting Anil Kapoor ji, Sonam Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao, and many wonderful actors. I am about to start shooting for a yet untitled film opposite Rishi Kapoor ji and directed by Hitesh Bhatia.
How do you see your journey in Bollywood so far? Which were the best moments, according to you?
I have had such a wonderful career; I cannot thank God enough for it. I’ve had the chance to work with amazing directors and on amazing films. Right from getting a hold into the industry through an amazing film like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak; working with Yash Chopra ji on Aaina (1993) and Darr; working with Aziz Mirza ji in so many films like Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992), Yes Boss (1997) and Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000); and working with David Dhawan ji in completely mad, funny films like Bol Radha Bol, Deewana Mastana (1997) and Mr. and Mrs. Khiladi (1997). I have done more films with Dhawan ji than with a single hero.
I have worked with amazing talent like Mahesh Bhatt saab, films like Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke, Naajayaz (1995) and Duplicate (1998). Also, working with the best of talent in the industry. With Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, it is like we grew up in the industry together, but getting a chance to work with Rishi Kapoor ji, Sunny Deol Sir, and Anil Kapoor ji, these are people I looked upto on screen at one time. I didn’t know that I would be on a shooting set with them, it was beyond my dreams. I’ve had an amazing ride and I am totally thankful for it.
What special message would you give our readers on Diwali?
Wishing all the DARPAN readers a very happy Diwali, a very peaceful and prosperous year and blessed with good health. I would like to add a simple note: at Diwali you do not pray only to Maa Lakshmi, you also pray to Ganesh ji and Maa Saraswati. Ganesh ji takes away every obstruction from your way. You pray to Maa Lakshmi so that she blesses you with wealth. Maa Saraswati blesses you with knowledge so that you know how to treat that wealth given by Maa Lakshmi when it comes to you.
Credits: Outfits by @manishmalhotra, @shyamalbhumika, @cheried, @dimpleamrin | Jewellery by @masayajewellery, @aquamarine_jewellery, @minerali, @curiocottage, @n.m.creations | Styled by Karishma Gulati