Juhi Chawla’s Journey From Bollywood to the Arthouse

Jun/18/2023 / by Team Seema
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

The 1990s and early 2000s were a period of long-term success in Bollywood. Indian culture permeated through the U.K. and U.S. for more than a decade. The culmination of the rise in Indian popular culture in the west was Danny Boyle’s 2008 movie, “Slumdog Millionaire.” Juhi Chawla leaped the 1984 Miss India beauty pageant to movie stardom in the late-1980s. Former Miss India, Juhi Chawla quickly became one of the biggest Hindi stars of the 1990s and 2000s before testing herself with some of the most challenging arthouse movies of the 21st century. the groundbreaking career of Chawla includes her establishment of a production company alongside her onscreen partner, Shah Ruhk Kahn.

The Early Biography of Juhi Chawla

Born in 1967 in the Indian region of Haryana, Chawla grew up in a household headed by her tax expert father. Chawla’s father was an officer in the IRS and gave her a stable home life to enjoy throughout her childhood. The Bollywood superstar attended Mumbai’s Fort Convent School and Sydenham College. A successful model, Chawla made the jump to the Miss India pageant in 1984. Her sense of style saw her rewarded with the costume award at the 1984 Miss Universe pageant.

Career Beginnings

The Miss India title raised the profile of Juhi Chawla among media executives in India. The title led to her first Bollywood role, which was a small role in the movie “Sultanat.” Following her first movie appearance in 1986, Juhi Chawla made several movies before making her breakthrough in 1988. Mansoor Khan’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” would propel Chawla and her co-star, Aamir Khan to international stardom. “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak” won several awards, including Best Newcomer for Chawala.

The more you learn about Juhi Chawla, the more you realize she is one of the hardest-working actors in India. In the early 1990s, the Bollywood star was making up to nine movies per year. By 1992, Juhi Chawla had been nominated for three Filmfare Best Actress awards. A return to co-starring with Aamir Khan in 1993s “Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke” required Chawla to master the Tamil dialect. The role won her the first Best Actress Award.

A Change of Direction

By the late 1990s, Juhi Chawla was looking to choose her roles carefully. The multiple movies each year model was difficult to maintain. An onscreen partnership with Shah Rukh Khan had proven productive for Chawla and several studios. Khan and Chawla joined forces with Aziz Mirza to open their own production company. Dreamz Unlimited opened its doors with the production of “Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani.” The romantic comedy was a critical success for Juhichawla.

By 2001, Juhi Chawla decided to take a break from filmmaking and did not return until 2003. Her return to the screen coincided with a change of direction for the Bollywood actress. The 2000s could be called the age of Juhi Chawla as a serious actress. Her career switched from mainstream Bollywood movies to arthouse and independent productions. Among the ground-breaking work, Chawla completed at this time was Onir’s “My Brother Nikhil.” The movie sees Juhi Chawla take the role of the elder sister facing up to the realities of life for her HIV-positive brother. Chawla’s performance in the movie was praised by critics as her character begins to accept the lifestyle of her brother.

Success in her later career came with 2014s “Gulaab Gang.” The movie brought together Chawal and her former rival, Madhuri Dixit. In a change from her usual roles, Juhi Chawal played the antagonist politician fighting against Dixit’s character.

Offscreen Success

it is easy to see Chawal is a shrewd businesswoman capable of holding her own in any arena. Outside her movie work, the actress has brought her business sense to several sectors. In the late 1990s, Chawal joined forces with several Bollywood stars to take a stage show around North America and Europe.

The actress is a dedicated fan of cricket and enjoys the limited-overs format of the game. The formation of the Indian Premier League brought the spectacle of some of the game’s biggest global stars to Asia. Chawal and her husband, Jay Mehta joined forces with her onscreen partner, Shah Rukh Khan to buy a franchise in the IPL. The Kolkotta Knight Riders were purchased during the first edition of the Twenty-20 competition and have proven a shrewd investment. The team won the IPL in 2012 and 2014.

Considering her Options

The ongoing interest in the career of Juhi Chawla has been credited to her changing onscreen persona. Having married industrialist Jay Mehta in 1995, Chawla has been through periods of commercial success and failure. The actress credits her long-term success to the year-long break from acting in 2001. A switch away from musical comedies to serious roles has kept the public interested in her career throughout the 21st century.


Who is Juhi Chawla married to?

She married industrialist Jay Mehta in 1995. The couple shares two daughters.

Where is Juhi Chawla now?

Juhi Chawla is the co-owner of the Kolkotta Knight Riders. She returns to the big screen in 2022 in the role of Veena Manchanda in the comedy-drama, “Sharmaji Namkeen.”

When did Juhi Chawla start her career?

The actress came to the attention of the Indian public as Miss India 1984. Her first movie roles came in 1986, with 1988 proving her breakthrough year.


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