Free Press Journal

Juhi Chawla: Spirituality for me is just about connecting with myself


Juhi Chawla, the actress with a million-dollar smile, gets serious with NIKITA WADHAWAN about her new travel show and fight against plastic

In her more than a three-decades-long career, actress Juhi Chawla broke the stereotype of a just being a pretty face. She delivered rib-tickling movies like ‘Yes Boss’, ‘Ishq’, ‘Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke’ and ‘Mr and Mrs Khiladi’. After ‘Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa’, the actress is set to make her comeback on the small screen in a new role – as a narrator of the show ‘Sharanam’.

The show takes the viewers on a poignant journey to some of the most revered pilgrimage sites in India and highlights people’s faith and experiences. Talking about the show Juhi says, “I am very excited about this show. The places shown are places of worship that have been here for over 100 years, you will get to know why people go to these places for so many years and why these places were established.” Excerpts from the interview:

Do you think a travel show that focuses a lot on places of worship will connect with the younger viewer?

In fact, I think that this is a more universal subject. This is a virtual journey to each of this places. Maybe some kids don’t care about places like this but a lot of people will like it. The places that the show takes you is filled with so much history and that you will realise it is very pleasant viewing and very informative.

What is your idea of spirituality?

When you talk about spirituality, people assume that you are talking about sitting on a mountain or some sadhu but it is not that. Spirituality for me is just about connecting with myself.

Do you have any special places of worship?

It is the temple near my house and only place I can visit often. But I have been to some very beautiful temples like Somnath Mandir, when you stand there you are filled awe. I have gone to an English Medium school so I haven’t realised what our mythological stories mean. When it is Maha Shivratri that comes once a year, at exactly 12 am the moon is right above the temple. People 1000 years ago knew about this phenomenon which is amazing. Even Jagannath Temple, throughout the day, the temple doesn’t make a shadow on the ground, the flag above the temple flies opposite in the direction of the wind and no bird or planes ever fly above the temple.

Will the show only cater to Hindu places of worship or every religion?

I have dubbed nine episodes of the series by now and in that they have covered Velankanni Church, Shirdi, Ajmer Sharif and will also be covering fire temples in India. They are picking up on every place of worship that has been important for people over time.

You have also actively taken up the cause of educating people about the harmful effects of plastic. Why is this cause so close to you?

We as people today are suffering from ignorance, we are not being told things that are truly important for us. I have travelled around the world thanks to my work and my husband but what I have learned about plastic last year, blew my mind. I couldn’t believe that this was happening in the world and I was unaware of it. Every animal today has some amount of plastic in their body. How many people are aware that there are islands of plastic that are floating in the oceans? Your children are going to suffer the consequence of this very soon.

Though there are people who also disrupt and threaten people who try to clean up the mess that has been created?

I don’t think such people are aware of the problem. These people are suffering from ignorance and not true knowledge. All this information is not being thought to us in any of the books.

You also talked about banning plastic bottles in restaurants…

I am happy that the government is thinking along those lines. I know it will inconvenient a lot of people but all this plastic is only a convenience and not a necessity. It is very difficult to recycle plastic and it is very expensive and time consuming.

You replaced all the plastic in your home. How did your kids react to this sudden change?

I have replaced the toothbrush with bamboo brush. Though there are some plastic products that can be replaced by more environment friendly products. I replaced all the plastic items in my kitchen. Plastic releases harmful chemicals when it comes close to heat and also when you store food in it, the same chemicals seep into your food. It is not very difficult as 20-30years ago, everything in our kitchen was of recyclable materials only.

How economical is this change for the middle class and the lower middle class family?

It is a circle. When you realise that this is poison for you and your children, you won’t mind the cost. People don’t even know that it is not good for your health, forget about the environment. Moreover, once more and more people start buying these products the cost of it will decrease.