Once she was ‘Chirpy Chawla’, who excelled in light-hearted roles in films like Bol Radha Bol (1992), Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke (1993), Duplicate (1998) and Jhankaar Beats (2003). But in the last few years, happy Juhi has turned unhappy in offbeat cinema like My Brother Nikhil (2005), Sukhmani (2010) and I Am (2011).
“Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve done a regular commercial movie,” the actor agrees. “The last one was Bhootnath (2008). So, it was a welcome relief to shoot for SOS—Son Of Sardar in Patiala last year. It’s a comedy with lots of cute, quirky characters and funny lines.”
The rom-com revolves around two Punjabi families living in
(bungalows) out in the country. Juhi is a slightly
(rustic) Sardarni opposite Sanjay Dutt. “It’s such a coincidence that the last film I shot with Sanju, Safari (1999), also had Tanujaji (actor Tanuja), and now I’m working with both of them again,” she says, remembering how on a rainy morning during an outdoor shoot in Tekri on the Kerela-Tamil Nadu border, Sanjay had made tea for the unit. “I pretended to be a spot boy, holding an umbrella over his head while he poured the tea from the kettle into little glasses.” She admits she was a little awkward meeting Sanjay after a long time. But it wasn’t long before they were happily discussing their kids. “I’d met Trishala during shows in New York when she was 10. His daughter is a grown-up now, but he has the twins, Shahraan and Iqra, to dote on,” says Juhi, breaking into giggles as she recalls his impersonations of his producers and directors.
Producer and co-actor Ajay Devgn is another prankster, with a geek for a daughter and an infant son. “He surprised me by calling and offering me this role. I’m glad he did because I feel like my 60-second Kurkure commercial has turned into a two-hour movie. It’s so much fun!” Juhi exults.
She points out that there are only two Sardars in the film wearing
(turban). One is Ajay and the other an eight-year-old kid who tells Ajay, ‘
Ek main Sardar, ek tu Sardar, baaki sab bekaar
(We are the only two Sardars and the others are worthless)’. She laughs, “Now you know what’s in store —good, clean family fun.”