A sister called Juhi Chawla

We all have family members who are extremely sick but very few of us can camouflage that pain with a courteous smile. Juhi Chawla could do that.

I spoke to Juhi last year in January about her brother, Bobby Chawla; it was one of the most heart-rending conversations ever. The conversation haunted me for days and I prayed often that Bobby gets back on his feet again.

There was a moment during the conversation when Juhi Chawla broke down over the phone when I asked her about her brother who had been in coma for three years then at Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai.

Juhi, who is known to speak spontaneously, disconnected the phone to shed a tear.

That’s the exact point when I realised how Juhi was battling odds to be besides Bobby everyday. At that time, I was also in midst of my own battles, one that involved my mother’s fight with cancer and we spoke about that too.

“We perhaps understand each other on the things we are going through,” Juhi said on the phone after the interview was over. I was astonished by the steely resolve she exhibited to get her brother on his feet again. After speaking to her, I was charged up all over again.

wrote about that conversation the next day, but what I couldn’t reproduce, was the personal experiences that we exchanged that day.

I am reproducing the notes that I had taken down while speaking to her that day.

I stand by her today and salute her for putting up such a brave fight for her brother. Now that Bobby is no more, I pray for his soul and wish that every sister in this world be like Juhi Chawla.


Interview date: January 14, 2013

We don’t see much of Juhi Chawla these days. Your fans are complaining that you have reduced your work quite drastically.

I know. I sign only those films that I feel good about doing. I really don’t want to do an arbitrary role in a big film, where I just play a mother or an elder sister and there is no scope of acting. At this stage, I want to do a role which are interesting. I liked my role in ‘Son Of Sardaar’. I have done a film called ‘Main Krishna Hoon’ and you will see me in ‘Gulaab Gang’ soon. 

The year that went by was extremely tough on you…
It really was you know. But I have been able to face it. I never knew that I’d be put through such hard times. It was like a sudden jolt.  When you go through a particularly tough time, you have to be tough yourself to deal with it. God makes you go through these phases, but that makes you tougher too. I won’t be able to tell you how difficult it was for me. I cannot describe them in words. My world crashed when I came to know about my brother being taken to a hospital. Recently, there has been another tragedy also...(pauses a bit as her voice chokes).
You lost your sister, whom you were close to…
She was my cousin sister. We were close to each other. She succumbed to cancer. When something like that happens to you, you feel very helpless. Nothing prepares you for a loss like that. I am talking about it now, a few days back I wouldn’t have been able to talk about it. I have started to hate being in hospitals. It’s not a place that you would like to be.
How’s Bobby doing now? We’ve heard that he is doing better.
(Pauses again, throat chokes, cuts the call. Juhi picks up when I call back 10 minutes later) 
He is still not conscious. We are hoping that all your prayers come true. Four months back when I heard that he had collapsed, my world collapsed. He had always been in ICU after that. I have been around him constantly. He is fighting and I am fighting with him. Those months, when I was constantly in and out of hospitals, was the toughest part of my life. Seeing him like this (in a coma) is the biggest shock of my life. I feel so helpless…
But everybody says that you really stood up to the challenge.
I don’t know how I dealt with it. Seeing him (her brother) in pain, the fear, the anxiety… Seeing him all alone in the ICU. I felt that my world had come to an end. I don’t know how I am talking about it now but at that point of time, I was just taking each day as it comes. I tried to do the best I could. I also desperately wanted to pick myself up at some point.
How are you dealing with it now?
Nandan Mahto came to me with this film called ‘Main Krishna Hoon’ and took up the offer to get back to work. I was able to get my mind off from everything when I was on the sets. I also started interacting with the children on the sets of the film and it made me very happy. Nandan has worked with me for 11 years, I trusted her and I knew that getting back to work  will help me a lot. It did help. Getting back to work meant I was able to get my mind off.
I must say that you are really a strong woman…
I don’t know about that. When you are put through such a test, you have to deal with it. I have tried to do the best I can. I didn’t know how I would have managed when everything started happening but I have somehow managed. I think everything will be okay again soon. I know everybody prays for me. I want to thank all of them.
(The conversations of personal nature have not been reproduced here. I don’t think the world will never know the rest of the conversations)

2 replies »

  1. Hi Rahul..thank you for this peek into the radiant and always giggling Juhi Chawla I so fondly remember in movies.. just reminded me that actors are as human as we ordinary commoners are. They too experience a multitude of emotions and face tragedy and hardships…its commendable, despite such grief, Juhi maintained a smiling facade. kudos to her fighting spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

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