25 years of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander: Aamir was a prankster; flying dress a fluke shot
It was a cult film, became a classic, and remains one of the most-loved films in Bollywood. Today, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander turns 25. Released on May 22, 1992, it was about the love affairs and rivalries of students, played by Aamir Khan, Ayesha Jhulka, Pooja Bedi and Deepak Tijori.
In a chat with us, Pooja recalls some exciting anecdotes. The best part, she says, was that the very young cast played very young characters. “We got to be exactly who we were at that age and stage in our lives. It was very Archie comics. There was me being Veronica, Ayesha as Betty, Aamir being Archie, and Deepak was Reggie,” says Pooja.
Her craziest co-star? Pooja quips, “Of course, Aamir. He was the real prankster on the sets. When someone was about to sit on a chair, he’d pull it from behind and make them fall. He made me have naariyal paani, which made my tongue turn blue. He was full of masti. It was one of the happiest movies I ever shot.”
The 47-year-old adds that it was a fun experience shooting for Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander because everyone was on the unit was so young, “including Mansoor [Khan, the director] and Farah [the choreographer]”. Pooja says, “All of us were basically starting out career at that time. It was an environment that lent itself to creativity, madness, fun, excitement and all those moments that you see on the celluloid, it was exactly the same energy we had on our sets.”
Even today, after 25 years, whenever she walks into a function or an event, her famous song, Pehla Nasha is played. “It is being remembered over and over again. People sing it to me, romance me with the song. This film not only changed but enhanced my life and career in every possible way with this one incredible song, Pehla Nasha. It appealed to audiences of all age groups and is still evergreen,” smiles Pooja.
Believe it or not, Pooja’s famous recreation of Marilyn Monroe’s iconic flying skirt moment in the song was the toughest to shoot.
Pooja reveals that it was finally shot as a mistake. “It was hilarious because every time they would make the fan go full speed, the dress wouldn’t fly. And when I threw my hands up in exasperation and say ‘it’s not flying’, at that point, the dress would fly right above my head,” she recalls. “Again, no matter how much we tried, we couldn’t get that shot right. There was once some technical hitch and my hair got stuck in a chain and I turned my head a certain way and the dress happened to fly up at that particular moment, and well, that was the only usable shot in the entire sequence. It was a fluke shot, done by mistake. Of course, it made history and made me akin to Marilyn Monroe of India.”
On whether her 19-year-old daughter, Aalia, has seen the film, Pooja laughs, “Yes, my daughter has seen the movie and she cracks up laughing every time she sees it. She teases me endlessly about my acting skills, role in the film, and my dress flying up, but the fact is that it’s contagious and everybody loves it.”
She adds, “Aalia is studying in America right now, and she sent me a really cute video a few months back with her and a friend, who loves the song [Pehla Nasha], which is cool because 25 years later, the 17-year-old age group is still listening to it. The fact that she’s in a car with her best friend who’s playing the song on the radio and they’re both singing it — it’s very special and sweet.”