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Juhi Chawla reflects on ‘pressure’ in Bollywood

In the over 25 years that she has dedicated to the Hindi film industry, Juhi Chawla has witnessed several trends. But she believes the current generation of actors has too much pressure to handle as far as competition and visiblity are concerned.

“I thank God that I was there [at the peak of my career]. I think there’s too much pressure now,” Chawla said. “There are so many newcomers…Earlier, once you made a mark, at least you had a chance of getting ahead. I think today, you really have to stand your ground to be able to sustain.

“There is so much noise around like size zero, public relations, marketing…I hope these girls are also enjoying themselves,” the 46-year-old said, adding how she is “not really happy” about this aspect of the Hindi film industry today.

During the peak of her career, the entertainer charmed moviegoers with her million- dollar smile, innocence and charm. A former Miss India Universe, she made her cinematic debut with 1986 film Sultanat.

Her first commercial success came in 1988 with romantic drama Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, following which she went on to deliver hits such as Darr, Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke and Ishq.

It was after her marriage to businessman Jai Mehta in 1998 that Chawla experimented with a different kind of cinema with movies such as 3 Deewarein, My Brother Nikhil and Jhankaar Beats.

With a career spanning over 90 films, the actress believes a lot has changed about the heroine in Bollywood.

“I think the line between the heroine and item girls is blurred now. I liked my heroine to be the way she was…sweet or at least she used to blush sometimes. Now, there is nothing! They are so open about everything. I am happy I have enjoyed myself and now I see all this drama happening around,” she said.

Chawla is candid about the fact that it had upset her to give up her position to the new generation. “At one point, I felt that pinch. I was hurt. It was like somebody had walked into my shoes, but beyond a point, I had started to accept it. [Now] It’s like how embarrassing…I can’t do those roles again. I have crossed that [phase],” she said.

She also admitted to being insecure about competition during her time. “I was a little foolish, young and insecure. I was being compared to Madhuri [Dixit], Manisha [Koirala] and Karisma [Kapoor]. That used to keep happening, and even though you try to shut it out from your mind, somewhere you get affected.

“Now it is like you’ve been there and done that, got married and had kids and still doing films! Now you can enjoy what you have and learn from your mistakes,” Chawla said.

She co-stars with her once-rival Dixit in forthcoming film Gulaab Gang. “In this film, I am not competing with her. Madhuri is playing the hero in the film, but if you take my character out, then nothing is left in it,” the versatile actress, who plays a negative role in the Soumik Sen-directorial, said.