‘Now, I have a sense of who I am’

Juhi Chawla on overcoming rivalries, bringing up kids and being more comfortable and confident in her own skin

64As a working mother in a demanding profession, how do you divide your time between your work and kids?

On some days, it gets very hectic, on other days, it’s relaxed. If I am shooting for a film and I don’t get enough time to spend with them, I feel very bad… but eventually it all works out.
These days I don’t do so much work, so I get to be around them a lot but I also make sure I keep myself creatively occupied.

How are the child-rearing duties shared between your husband Jai Mehta and you?

Oh, when I am not around, he does all the things with the kids that I forbid. He buys them things, they go out for movies or some fancy holidays… all the things that mothers don’t allow. He handles all the fun part.

Are you a strict mom?

A little. I don’t like them watching too much TV. I get very upset with them if they leave the Internet on or if they use the phone too much. I am very careful about that.

Who takes care of their studies?

My daughter Jhanvi studies by herself. But I have to be after my son Arjun to make sure he studies Hindi, Marathi. I explain poems or some concepts in Geography, so this part is handled by me.

Is a star kid brought up differently?

I am doing exactly the same thing that every other mom does. Like trying to feed them healthy food instead of junk food. So, when they narrated the script for Kelloggs ad to me, I said, this is me — I too try to put vegetables in their pasta and pizza. I keep hiding nutritious food inside their junk food. I tell them to go out and play in the greenery, instead of watching excess TV. I am very normal. They do have some luxuries that other children don’t but the basic issues are the same..

The 1990s troika of biggies — Sridevi, Madhuri and you — have come back to films in a big way. Do you think it’s time for the yummy mummies?

Madhuri has taken significant breaks from movies and Sriji took a long break. I would do one film, then go away, then return with one more small film.

It’s very heartening because so many actors have come and gone, but at least I see my contemporaries around. I was a big fan of Sriji.

After your famous rivalry with Madhuri in the 1990s, you are now working with her in Gulab Gang?

Working with her was wonderful. The director did a very nice thing — he read out the script in front of the whole unit and made it clear to everyone what their role was in the film. So I put the past behind and things worked out well.

How important is it to look glamorous at this stage of life?

Now, I have a sense of who I am. I do things that please me. I dress because I am going out and want to look nice, I wear what I am happy wearing. I will not wear a gown or a short dress. I will wear something which makes me feel confident. People say ‘Arre aap churidaar hi pehente ho’. I tell them, ‘At least I wear a nice one’. Earlier, I always tried to do what others used to say; but now it’s all up to me.
— Anita Britto

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