Juhi Chawla worked with Rishi Kapoor on a number of films in the 1990s, but it was during the filming of their latest Sharmaji Namkeen project that the actor claimed to have truly observed the veteran’s genius at bringing heartwarming performances to life while still being being nonchalant towards her profession. Chawla and Kapoor have been co-stars in films such as Bol Radha Bol, Eena Meena Deeka, Daraar and in Zoya Akhtar’s 2009 drama Luck By Chance. Sharmaji Namkeen marks the last screen appearance of Kapoor, who died at the age of 67 in April 2020 after a two-year battle with leukemia.
In an interview with PTI about the Zoom call, the 54-year-old actor said that when she got together to shoot with the veteran, it was an experience to watch and learn. “When we started shooting, I realized that he was way ahead of me in terms of how… I was just looking at him. I was watching him take his shots of him because he was doing it effortlessly and so well.
“Unlike me, as I keep looking at the monitor to see if I did well, I see myself in the mirror to check if I am looking right, he was totally opposite. He wasn’t obsessed with himself like many actors are. He was calm and calm, “he added.
Juhi Chawla recalled an incident in the filming of the film set in Delhi, in which the two had to shoot a scene in a car. It was a sequence full of dialogue, and Chawla was curious to understand Kapoor’s process of uttering lines without ever making them sound like dialogue.
“He said to me: ‘I don’t see them as lines, I take it as an emotion, what is the feeling behind it and then those lines just flow.’ I always read everything, I see what dialogues I have, but for him it wasn’t that.
“That’s why it’s all there in every shot. There is nothing shy with him, because he has the “sur” part of him. As an actor, he looks you in the eye and talks to you, he doesn’t act, “he said.
The film is directed by Hitesh Bhatia and is classified as a moving story of self-realization and discovery. Sharmaji Namkeen follows the life of a recently retired man who discovers his passion for cooking after joining a rebellious circle of female kittens. The film, produced by Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani, Honey Trehan and Abhishek Choubey, will be released on Prime Video on March 31st.
Chawla said that when she first read the script, she was envious that Kapoor was playing the lead role because it was “so fair” to the actor, fondly known as Chintu ji among his fans and colleagues.
“The script was moving, funny, touching. It was like a little slice of life with the characters you’ve seen in your homes, in other homes. Many times you simply identify with them. I had a small role, but I was envious of this wonderful movie going to Chintu ji, because it was so right for him. She had such a lovely script and a wonderful co-star, ”he added.
The film was 50% complete when Kapoor died. The producers eventually signed actor Paresh Rawal to complete the remaining portions of the film, making it a first case where two actors played the same character in a film.
For Chawla, dealing with Kapoor’s death was devastating. “I wasn’t expecting something like this because when we were told he wasn’t feeling very well, I thought we would turn to bits so he would feel comfortable with him. We could shoot for two days and resume a month later. But I didn’t know that one day he wouldn’t be there. I was extremely shocked to know that he is not there. “
The actor didn’t shoot the film for at least eight months as the producers had to find someone to put themselves in the veteran’s shoes and also take care of the COVID-19 blockade.
“The return to sets didn’t happen for a couple of months. Initially, it was just this, “No more Chintu ji”. Then Ritesh called after two weeks and said it was her last movie and we’ll finish it, somehow. I couldn’t believe how it was going to be done. But Ritesh assured me that they will find a way and they will.
“I thought he was so kind, kind. They spoke as true directors, that as an artist this was her last work and we cannot abandon it. It was an emotional moment, I was really amazed, moved, ”she added.
Backed by Excel Entertainment in association with MacGuffin Pictures, the film also stars Suhail Nayyar, Taaruk Raina, Satish Kaushik, Sheeba Chaddha and Isha Talwar.