Juhi Chawla is an Indian actress, model and film producer, and the winner of the Miss India beauty contest in 1984. Chawla has worked predominantly in Hindi language films, in addition to Punjabi, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, and Bengali language films. A top actress of Bollywood in the late 1980s, 1990s and early-2000s, Chawla has garnered particular praise for her comic timing and vivacious on-screen persona.
Chawla made her film debut in Sultanat (1986), and received wider public recognition with the highly successful tragic romance Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), for which she won the Filmfare Award for Lux New Face of the Year. She went on to establish herself as a leading actress of Hindi cinema with the films Swarg (1990), Pratibandh (1990), Bol Radha Bol (1992), Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992), Lootere (1993), Aaina (1993), Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (1993), for which she won the Filmfare Award for Best Actress, Darr (1993), Deewana Mastana (1997), Yes Boss (1997) and Ishq (1997). In the 2000s, Chawla began working with independent filmmakers in art-house projects, garnering praise for her work in Jhankaar Beats (2003), 3 Deewarein (2003), My Brother Nikhil (2005), Bas Ek Pal (2006), I Am (2011) and Gulaab Gang (2014).
In addition to acting, Chawla is a television personality, a humanitarian, and the co-owner of the Indian Premier League cricket team Kolkata Knight Riders. She married the industrialist Jay Mehta in 1995 and has two children with him.
Early life and background
Juhi Chawla was born in Ambala, Haryana, India. Her father was an officer of the Indian Revenue Service (IRS). She is the aunt of actress Kiara Advani. She completed her schooling from Fort Convent School, Mumbai,and graduated from Sydenham College, Mumbai with a specialisation in HR. She was the winner of Miss India title in 1984.Later she won Best Costume Award for the Miss Universe contest in 1984.She is also an accomplished dancer. In a Baaje Payal (a film based on a collection of interviews for dancers/actresses) interview, she mentioned having learned Kathak for three years and regretted giving it up as it could have helped her in her career as an actress. She is also an accomplished classical singer and has been training for the last six years.
1988–1989: Breakthrough and success
Chawla ventured into films with the 1986 Sultanat, the film turned out to be a commercial failure. She went on to act in Kannada classic Premaloka directed by Ravichandran in 1987, the film became a Blockbuster upon its release and Chawla’s performance was well received by the critics and the audience alike. Her first major role in Bollywood was in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak in 1988, in which she starred with Aamir Khan. The film, a modern-day adaption of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, became both a major critical and commercial success. A film critic wrote “Juhi Chawla already shows that she’s here to stay. Not only is she naturally vivacious but she, in a wonderfully subtle way, displays Rashmi’s innocence, childlikeness and determination. It’s no surprise that since then Aamir and Juhi have been popular for their on screen chemistry.” Another critic wrote “Though most people give credit to Aamir, this film is a classic more because of Juhi. Her charm and charisma including her “next-door girl” image created a phenomenon in India. Her plain yet so elegant salwar-suits or her innocent smile that made people crazy.” It won the Filmfare Best Movie Award, and Chawla won the Filmfare Award for Lux New Face of the Year and received her first nomination for Filmfare Best Actress Award. The film has since attained cult status, with the entertainment portal Bollywood Hungama crediting it as a “path-breaking and trend setting film” for Indian cinema.
In 1990, she starred in such films as Pratibandh, which was a box office success and her performance was appreciated by critics, as written “Most of Juhi Chawla’s sequences are worth the watch just for her terrific performance. She is simply superb as Shanti, a toy seller who finds herself charged with murder.” She also received her second nomination for the Filmfare Best Actress Award for the film. She then appeared in the family drama Swarg alongside Rajesh Khanna and Govinda, the film was a big hit upon its release. In 1992, she appeared in the super hit Bol Radha Bol for which she received a Filmfare nomination for best actress A critic wrote “Juhi was as perfect as one could wish. As a simple village belle with feisty nature she was just lovely to look at, and even after getting a sexy make-over in the second part there was still beautiful innocence to her. Her comic timing was spot on as always”. Later that year she appeared in the comedy Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, the film was a hit at the box office and was her first of many collaborations with Shahrukh Khan. Shahrukh Khan attributed the success of the film to Chawla as she was a big star at that time and he still a newcomer.
In 1993 she appeared in four of the top-grossing productions of the year. Her first release was the multi-starrer Lootere opposite Sunny Deol, Naseeruddin Shah, Chunkey Pandey and Anupam Kher; the film was a success at the box office. She was praised for her acting and look in the film; a film critic wrote “Juhi Chawla sheds her girl-next-door image with Lootere and transforms into Bollywood sex siren with ‘Main Teri Rani Tu Raja Mera’ song. Performance wise Chawla steals the show. Her acting is flawless and her screen presence and beauty make it all the better.” Her next release was Aaina co-starring Jackie Shroff, and was produced by Yash Chopra, the film was a big hit at the box office, solidifying Chawla’s position as the leading lady of the 90’s. The critics praised her performance in the film and wrote “1993 was Juhi Chawla’s year with such films as Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke in which she delivered an excellent comic performance, and Darr, for which many still remember her as that highly desired “K-k-k-kiran”. I actually like her more either in comedy or in roles of smart and sophisticated women, but this one definitely works. Her fragility looks very natural and so does her character’s gradual transformation.”
Her third release was Mahesh Bhatt’s romantic comedy Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke opposite Aamir Khan, which many critics called her career best performance. Critics wrote “Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla have already proved to be a great on screen pair and here they shine once again. Aamir Khan is effective in a suitably restrained performance but it is Juhi Chawla who steals the show with her comic nirvana. Easily she is the funniest actor in the history of Hindi cinema and it would be a tough challenge for any actor to match up to that. Moreover, her effortless dialogue delivery in Tamil (especially for someone who doesn’t speak the language) only further prove what a gifted actress she is.” Another critic wrote ” The film ultimately belongs to Juhi. Because she is the soul of all things. She is the active reason of things happening. She is the fun. She is that innocence people love. It is difficult to imagine any other actress in this role. Such is her natural charm and comic sense in this one, and she truly deserved the Filmfare she received. Looking sweet and simply throughout the film she makes you smile with her mere presence. This is definitely her best performance. Add to it she is acting opposite Aamir (the most popular pairings of the ’90s), the two compliment each other and share a crackling chemistry and you are left with a feeling of bliss”. The pairing of Chawla with Khan (one of the most popular on screen pairing of the ’90s) resulted in hype over the film’s release, and it proved a major commercial and critical success. Her comic-dramatic performance met with unanimous critical acclaim and won her several awards, including the Filmfare Best Actress Award for her performance in the film.
Her last release of the year was Yash Chopra’s thriller Darr, alongside Shahrukh Khan and Sunny Deol. The film went on to become a blockbuster upon its release and was one of the highest grossing films of the year, making it Chawla’s fourth consecutive box office hit of the year. Darr was also a major critical success, winning several awards including the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment. Her performance as Kiran, a girl caught between one man’s love and other man’s obsession was widely appreciated and to date remains one of her most memorable performances. A critic wrote “In Darr she gets to display all her talent, be it the frightened look on her face on seeing Rahul, be it the twinkle in the eyes during the song Tu hai meri Kiran or the comic chemistry with Anupam Kher, it is one of her best performances.” Rediff stated “Sensuous, seductive, gorgeous, cute, vulnerable -Juhi looked every bit of a dream girl her Kiran needed to be.” Chawla’s curly hair and off shoulder dress became the trademark in 90s with her blockbuster Darr. All these successes made her the most successful actress of the year.
Most of Chawla’s films released in 1994–6 were unsuccessful, though she appeared in Naajayaz alongside Ajay Devgan and Loafer alongside Anil Kapoor both of which were moderately successful at the box office. She received critical accalaim for her performance of a battered wife in Abbas Mustan’s thriller Daraar, she received a Filmfare nomination for her performance in the film . Critics praised her performance immensely, they wrote “Juhi was really amazing in the second half. She is both vulnerable and powerful, and she looks gorgeous. Her portrayal of the abused woman, who simply decides that enough is enough, is extremely sensitive and believable. She breaks your heart pleading with her husband as he prepares to give her a beating, you fear for her in her plight, and you are proud of her once she faces him.”
She had a revival in 1997 with romantic comedies Yes Boss, Deewana Mastana and Ishq. Ishq became one of the top-earners of the year and achieved blockbuster status. A critic wrote “It is Juhi Chawla, however, who steals the show with her high voltage comic delivery that is, appropriately, screamingly funny. Even in the parts when Indra Kumar has seemingly asked her to ‘stretch’ to be funny, she carries the scenes off with aplomb and skill. Her chemistry with Aamir is undeniable and the most memorable portions of the film revolve around their relationship.” Another critic wrote “Juhi Chawla is very pretty and good fun to watch, and it is her very energetic performance that makes the film extremely interesting and comical.”
Her other release of the year, Yes Boss co-starring Aditya Pancholi and Shahrukh Khan was also a major commercial and a critical success, Chawla’s portrayal of Seema Mathur was lauded by critics and she received her sixth Filmfare nomination for her portrayal of a model in the film. Critics wrote “Juhi Chawla is astonishing and enchanting as Seema. She displays both decisiveness, liveliness and confusion, and shows many sides of her personality, including dreaminess, love, anger and compassion. The growth in her character is believable, and as expected she is splendid in comic sequences.” Planet Bollywood said “This is Chawla’s best movie, she stands beautiful and can easily outshine other actresses in acting as well as looks. Her acting is the strong point of the film and this film gives her the chance to portray a multilayered character and show how her versatility.”
In the comedy Deewana Mastana, Chawla played the role of Dr. Neha Sharma, who forms the love interest of Kapoor and Govinda and ends up marrying Salman Khan. Planet Bollywood wrote “Juhi needs to look gorgeous in the movie, while showing indifference towards the monkeys who are after her. She is impeccable in the acting requirements, but looking beautiful is not always easy since working in a David Dhawan movie requires the hero and heroine to wear garishly coloured/designed outfits. However, in the end Juhi probably won over David and in the entire film her attire and looks could both kill”. The film was a major commercial success and performed extremely well at the box office. Her other release of the year was Mr and Mrs Khiladi alongside Akshay Kumar. The film turned out to be an average grosser and Chawla’s performance received immense appreciation. A critic wrote ” Juhi Chawla, as usual has done wonders in the film and her chirpy, zestful role proves her comic talent, that no other Indian actress has.” Another critic said ” As expected Juhi Chawla dominates the show with her perfect comic timing. Indian women are never expected to be funny, but Juhi gets all the respect in my book for being the reigning comic beauty of India.” Planet Bollywood while reviewing the film wrote ” Juhi’s comedic timing (as well as her look in the movie) is near perfection”.
In 1998 she appeared once again alongside Shahrukh Khan in Duplicate, the film was produced by Yash Johar and was directed by Mahesh Bhatt. The film underperformed at the box office upon its release. However, Chawla won much appreciation for her performance and her chemistry with Khan was also appreciated. A critic wrote “Juhi Chawla is one of my favourite actresses and she is simply wonderful here. I’m not sure how she manages to keep a straight face through some of Shah Rukh’s more insane moments, but she plays Sonia as quite a serious career woman with a tendency to lecture in English. Although I do prefer her romance with Shah Rukh in Yes Boss they still make a sweet couple here.” The same year she appeared in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s swan song Jhooth Bole Kauwa Kaate alongside Anil Kapoor, her performance was appreciated by the audiences and critics alike. Rediff while reviewing the film wrote ” Only Juhi as the daughter is not based on any character from Hrishida’s collection. She carries off her role with her inevitable chirpiness, and looks very good too. Hrishida was right when he told me that Juhi’s serene face suited the kind of sacrifice she would make in the film. Only Jaya Bhaduri has managed that serenity in Hrishida’s films.” However the film flopped at the box-office.
In 1999 she appeared in Arjun Pandit alongside Sunny Deol, the film was a success at the box office and Chawla received favorable reviews for her role with shades of grey in the film, a critic while reviewing the film for planet Bollywood wrote “Juhi is great during the climax as already mentioned, her character has several shades, in the first half she is bubbly and fun loving and later on her character takes a U turn, her performance shows her versatility and she clearly overshadows the hero in the film, she gives a great performance. Juhi makes the best of what she is given.”
Chawla’s pairing with Aamir Khan and their on-screen chemistry was often cited by the media as successful. She has also teamed up with Shahrukh Khan in several movies, including Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Darr, Duplicate and Yes Boss.
2000–2009: Continuing in other roles and critical acclaim
Through the 2000s, Chawla started appearing in independent and art films, and her work in the genre included the critically acclaimed films 3 Deewarein, 7½ Phere and My Brother Nikhil, which Taran Adarsh termed as “amongst the finest in her career” and Khalid Mohamed praised as “perfect,” stating that “her effortless blend of conflicting emotions is what A-class acting is all about. Ms Chawla is a diamond in this little gem of a movie.” She won a Star Screen Award for Best Supporting Actress for 3 Deewarein.
She was seen in Nikhil Advani’s Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute To Love for which she received good reviews. Critics wrote “among women it is Juhi Chawla with her sensitive approach who has the greatest acting prowesness”She starred with Urmila Matondkar in Bas Ek Pal (2006) and with Manoj Bajpai in Swami. Juhi then appeared Ravi Chopra’s Bhoothnath with Amitabh Bachchan, in which she made her singing debut with the song “Chalo Jaane Do”, the film was a moderate success and Chawla was appreciated for her role. Another film called Krazzy 4 with Irfan Khan and Arshad Warsi was released in 2008, the film failed to do well at the box office. In 2009, she appeared in a guest appearance in Luck By Chance to play a comic part for which she dyed her hair blonde. The film and Chawla’s performance got extremely positive reviews and got a good opening at the box office.
Chawla has appeared in several non-Hindi language films. She has appeared in various Punjabi films: Shaheed Uddham Singh (2000), Des Hoyaa Pardes (2004), Waris Shah: Ishq Daa Waaris (2006) and “Sukhmani – Hope for Life” (2010). Her first Malayalam film was Harikrishnans, which also starred actors Mohanlal and Mammootty. In the beginning of her career she acted in Kannada films, which include the successful Premaloka and unsuccessful films like Shanthi Kranthi and Kindara Jogi. She acted with popular Kannada actor Ravichandran in all these three films.
In 2011, Chawla starred in Onir’s critically acclaimed feature I Am (2011). Unfolded in several chapters, the film starred Chawla alongside Manisha Koirala in an episode named “I Am Megha”. She played the title role of which critic Taran Adarsh commented, “It’s a delight to watch Juhi and Manisha, after a hiatus. Both deliver striking performances – even getting the language right.” For her performance, Chawla was awarded the Best Actress award at the 13th London Asian Film Festival and Award for Excellence in Hindi Cinema at the Asiavision Movie Awards. Chawla’s performance also earned her a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Chawla is the only top actress in the 1990s who has never worked with Salman Khan in a full-fledged role opposite him, although Salman Khan did a friendly appearance as her husband in the 1997 release Deewana Mastana.
After appearing in art films and occasionally playing supporting roles and guest appearances throughout the decade, Chawla made a full-fledged comeback in 2014 with the heavily hyped woman-centric Gulab Gang alongside her once arch rival Madhuri Dixit. This was the first time in her long career that she played the role of an antagonist. Her negative role in the film was widely appreciated and her performance earned rave reviews. Many critics called it her career best performance, and many critics said that Juhi Chawla’s villainous avatar overpowers Madhuri Dixit Nene’s heroic act.
Bollywood life wrote “It’s quite surprising as well as delightful to watch Juhi, who is known for her angelic roles, playing a mean evil politico head. She sends policemen on sick leave when they refuse to bow in front of her. She takes revenge from people, who call her ‘Soumitra’ instead of addressing her as the ‘Madamji’. She mock tears during a political speech as she talks about her late husband and in the next scene curses the insurance company for not giving her the due money. Bollywood has got it’s [sic] new villain in Juhi. Though the dhak-dhak girl enjoys more screen presence as compared to Juhi, it’s the latter who shines brighter in this film.”
Emirates wrote “This, however, works in favour of Juhi, who emerges far more influential and striking as the conniving politico head ‘Madam’. Devoid of any references to her earlier Bollywood image, Juhi sticks to her character, and brilliantly plays her various insecurities and her determination to strike out anyone in the race to political glory. And this, despite being given a role that’s got far less prominence on the script than rebel frontrunner Rajjo. Although the character could have appeared jaded, Juhi plays it with impeccable restraint and concentrates on her wavering temperament with incredible flair, making this her most significant performance to date.”
Another critic wrote “Though the project was widely promoted as a Madhuri Dixit film in its entire promotional campaign and print advertisements. But in reality its Juhi Chawla who makes a more killer impact in her first ever role of a vamp unarguably. Hence as an exciting surprise, here we have the beautiful Juhi in a completely new negative avatar played real well, offering a lot more than the viewer’s expectations from the talented actress. In other words, where Madhuri’s decent attempt struggles to make an instant connect due to her mixed language (accent) or all meaningless songs (dances), there Juhi takes the full advantage of this unintentional flaw and emerges as a clear winner in this on screen contest evidently.”
She eventually won the prestigious Best Actress award at the Dadasaheb Phalke Awards ceremony for her performance. It earned her a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.
She appeared with Helen Mirren and Om Puri in the Steven Spielberg-produced Hollywood film The Hundred Foot Journey.
During the 2000s, Chawla has also been presenter and host of numerous television shows, particularly award ceremonies, including the Filmfare Awards and the Zee Cine Awards. Chawla has been a judge for the entertainment show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa alongside Saroj Khan and Vaibhavi Merchant during the show’s third season.
Juhi later turned producer and became the co-owner of a production company called Dreamz Unlimited with Shahrukh Khan and director Aziz Mirza.The first two films produced by the production company were Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani and Asoka. Their third film, Chalte Chalte was the first success for the company.
Chawla has been associated with a number of charities and social causes in India as well as Internationally. She espouses the fight against the deadly disease thalassaemia and has worked to organise events to raise money for the same. Chawla has also been on a mission to educate users on the perils of mobile phone radiation. She has been visiting schools, speaking at seminars, working with citizens groups and calling on ministers and authorities to drive her point home. In November 2015, she was bestowed with Indira Gandhi Memorial Award in Social Awareness for her active participation and selfless efforts towards creating awareness about the health hazards caused due to mobile tower antennae radiation.
Ownership of IPL cricket team
In 2008, Chawla and her husband Jay Mehta in partnership with actor Shahrukh Khan acquired ownership rights for the franchise representing Kolkata in the Twenty20 cricket tournament Indian Premier League, for a price of 300 crore, around $75 million at the time and have since named the team Kolkata Knight Riders.
As of 2009, KKR was one of the richest teams in the IPL and had been ranked as the most valued with a brand value of $42.1 million. Financially, Kolkata Knight Riders were the most profitable and successful franchise in the IPL as well. The team was surrounded with controversy and poor on-field performance through the first three years of the tournament. Its performance, however, improved from the fourth season and they eventually became the IPL champions for the first time in 2012.
Chawla with husband Jay Mehta at Karan Johar’s 40th birthday bash at Taj Lands End
Juhi Chawla is married to industrialist Jay Mehta. The couple have two children: a daughter Jhanvi born in 2001 and a son Arjun born in 2003. In an interview Juhi revealed that Jhanvi wants to be a writer, instead of joining films.
Jay Mehta and Juhi Chawla are the co-owners of the Indian Premier League team Kolkata Knight Riders in partnership with Shahrukh Khan under their company Red Chillies Entertainment. Her brother Bobby Chawla was the CEO of Red Chillies Entertainment. He suffered a massive stroke in 2010 after a dinner party. After being in coma for about four years, died at Jaslok Hospital on March 9, 2014.
Awards and nominations
Main article: List of Awards and Nominations received by Juhi Chawla
Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak
Filmfare Award for Lux New Face of the Year
Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actress
Love Love Love
Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actress
Tum Mere Ho
Mehndi Ban Gayi Khoon
Nattukku Oru Nallavan
Karz Chukana Hai
Bol Radha Bol
Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actress
Radha Ka Sangam
Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman
Mere Sajana Saath Nibhana
Bewafa Se Wafa
Daulat Ki Jung
Izzat Ki Roti
Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke
Filmfare Award for Best Actress
Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na
Eena Meena Deeka
Andaz Apna Apna
Ghar Ki Izzat
Saajan Ka Ghar
Aatank Hi Aatank
Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actress
Mr. and Mrs. Khiladi
Dr Neha Sharma
Saat Rang Ke Sapne
Jhooth Bole Kauwa Kaate
Shaheed Uddham Singh
Karobaar: The Business of Love
Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani
One 2 Ka 4
Aamdani Atthani Kharcha Rupaiyaa
Des Hoya Pardes
My Brother Nikhil
Khamosh: Khauf Ki Raat
Dr Sakshi Saagar
Home Delivery: Aapko… Ghar Tak
Dosti: Friends Forever
Bas Ek Pal
Waris Shah-Ishq Da Waaris
Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute To Love
Om Shanti Om
Special appearance in the song “Deewangi Deewangi”