In The Armchair

What’s Wrong With Juhi?

Posted in Movies and Entertainment by Armchair Guy on May 16, 2008

Juhi Chawla used to be a decent actress… or so I thought. When I saw Bhootnath last week (a lacklustre movie), I was shocked at how silly her acting was. It’s as though her hiatus has erased her ability to act. Humorous scenes were especially hard for her; her laughter and generally upbeat chirpiness sounded and looked completely forced.

Certainly it has to do with the quality of direction. Juhi scintillates in 3 Deewarein by Nagesh Kukunoor with a restrained performance in which there is not a nuance out of place. 3 Deewarein is a fairly recent film as well. There’s nothing surprising in this phenomenon; another example that comes to mind is Manisha Koirala’s great performance in Bombay, directed by Mani Ratnam. She was an ordinary actress throughout the rest of her career, but pulled off a quality performance in that film. Juhi must be facing the same problem.

I think it may also have something to do with losing momentum — Juhi’s been out of touch with acting for quite a while now. Maybe it takes some doing to get back into the swing of things.

A final thought: did Juhi actually get worse, or is 1990s acting generally silly by today’s standards? Hindi cinema was vibrant and inventive through the 60s and 70s, but took a terrible dip for the worse in the 80s and early 90s. The drought lasted until the mid-90s, after which cinema came alive again. (Some credit this to the government classification as an industry, leading to much easier financing and less underworld involvement.) I can’t really compare though, because I don’t have any popular early 90s movies at hand.

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