Juhi: a desi girl with an angrezi accent
I’ve known Juhi since the day she dropped by to meet my editor and stopped on her way out to make a call. I heard her voice first.. then her tinkling laugh. And turned to find myself looking at a former Miss India, recalls Roshmila Bhattacharya.entertainment Updated: May 18, 2009 20:01 IST
The Knight Riders’ nightmarish campaign is coming to an end. Jai Mehta will escort the team back and ensure that they, at least, have a smooth ride home. Surprisingly, Jai’s wife, Juhi, hasn’t been much of a cheer leader this season. After a few initial matches, she, along with Gauri Khan, has disappeared from the stands. Wouldn’t blame her if she prefers London or even amchi Mumbai with its jhalak moves to South Africa where the men in black-and-gold have been taking a tumble every other day.
I’ve known Juhi since the day she dropped by to meet my editor and stopped on her way out to make a call. I heard her voice first.. then her tinkling laugh. And turned to find myself looking at a former Miss India. Unlike today’s crown princesses, she was a desi girl with an angrezi accent. She caught me looking and flashed me a friendly smile. <b1>
I see.. I don’t
Over the years, Juhi’s 1000-watt smile has remained constant. Even today, it flashes bright every time she spots a friendly face.. when it doesn’t, you know that Juhi looked right through you because she wasn’t wearing her contacts or her granny glasses.
When she was single, gossip mills churned overtime. She was romantically linked with several of her co-stars, from Rishi Kapoor to Govinda, from Aamir Khan to Anil Kapoor. She just laughed the gossips away. And then, there was Jai Mehta.
I remember catching her on a movie set, in the late hours, and quizzing her about a reported engagement to the business magnate. The ‘ring’ winked up at me from her finger. Juhi only laughed and shooed me away. This time, I wasn’t convinced. She married Jai soon after.
On February 21, 2001, Jahanvi was born. A year later, during Asoka, I met her at her apartment for an interview. On my way out, as I waited by the elevator, I peeked into the nursery. Her baby was crawling over the wooden floor, watched over by her nanny and a couple of maids. Mummy stood by the door, and watched too, with wide-eyed wonder. Click! That is a picture you’ve never seen in the magazines.
I ran into her again at a book launch. As she read excerpts, I wandered around the store, flipping through titles in the kiddy’s section. Suddenly, I sensed that I was not alone.. Juhi was peering over my shoulder.
“Looking for fairy tales?” she asked. No, I had plenty of those at home. What had caught my eye was a write-and-rub book of stencilled alphabets. “My daughter can practice the letters till she perfects them,” I reasoned.
“How old is your daughter?” Juhi asked, curious. I told her that she was five and getting set for primary school. “School? Wow!” Juhi murmured, still the wonder-struck mamma.. of two now. Son Arjun was born on July 21, 2003, soon after Jhankaar Beats released.
I’m one of those who can’t be easily coaxed to share a star’s lunch. Shah Rukh Khan would joke that I didn’t like to eat
anyone’s namak because then I would be indebted to the person for life. It’s nothing so dramatic.. I just prefer my ghar ka khana. But if you strayed into Juhi’s make-up room during break, you took a bite with her before you got any bytes. That was the deal!
So, when she was still a khaati peeti Punjabi girl, I feasted on kaleji ki sabji. When she became more calorie conscious, I ate roti, daal and salad. And when I dropped by at her apartment, a maharaj came out every few minutes, to tempt me with cocktail samosas, homemade poha and half-a-dozen other snacks. Her blighted Knight Riders today could do with the mother’s touch.