âThere is a Lajpat Nagar for each Khan market, a Daryaganj for each Vasant Kunj. But all of them know their “place”. They are judged, but are fully aware that they are also judging others. They don’t hesitate to show who they are, âexplains Juhi Chaturvedi.
In the limited series #DilliDelhi, Devansh Sharma interviews screenwriters and filmmakers who have explored the city of Delhi, in all its eccentricities, subtleties and complexities, through their films.
Juhi Chaturvedi has only been living in Delhi for three years, although his work suggests otherwise. She has explored three different sides of Delhi in three of the four films she has written for Shoojit Sircar so far. While Donor Vicky (2012) took place in the heart of a bustling refugee colony inhabited mainly by Punjabis, Piku  briefly visited the Bengali-dominated area of ââChittaranjan Park, and October (2018) intermittently wandered through the verdant settlements of Hauz Khas, Vasant Kunj.
Obviously, she knows Delhi inside and out. She claims she loves the city with all its ostentatious glory, winter lethargy, and political intransigence. These factors, along with the fact that Delhi was her first date with “freedom,” make her the organic choice for the home of her characters in all of her films. âI moved from my hometown Lucknow to Delhi for my first job. Delhi offered me the freedom that Lucknow does not have. The freedom, economic or otherwise, has allowed me to restart as a person. 1996, I joined Lintas. Regardless of gender, we regularly worked late. There were my colleagues – women – who were much more liberal in the way they dress or the language they used, without apologizing. The city did not judge them. But I came from a place that was much more conservative, expecting women to be shy and reserved with no rough edges. It took me a while to realize that when a city exudes such strong masculine energy, women, perhaps in their defense, have chosen rather aggressive behavior in public places. “
She has lived in Mumbai for much longer – two decades – but has not made a film. (âI think I was in a different frame of mind when I first came here; I was married, there were other responsibilities,â Chaturvedi says). In Delhi, on the other hand, Chaturvedi says these lines are “thinner”.
âThe eternal war of supremacy between South Delhi and West Delhi is well known. As a foreigner, you can judge them too soon as second-hand clothes but if you care to understand their psychology, their ostentatious dress and their larger than life personality is only a way to erase dark memories. the hardships and the misery of the score. . When their businesses finally started to do well, the refugees made sure to let it be known. I would like to believe that applying lipstick even before brushing your teeth is only a small gesture to color this past! “ Chaturvedi said.
Another trait of Delhi that intrigued Chaturvedi is the misunderstanding of the concept of personal space. She illustrates this with a little anecdote: âI was planning a little reunion for my birthday in Mumbai, but for some reason the plan was canceled. And as expected, no one showed up. If it had been Delhi, few of my friends there would definitely have been. landed. Because a canceled birthday party isn’t a reason to stop them from bringing you flowers and hugs, whatever. “
She fondly remembers the indiscreet “neighbor aunts” who were as concerned about her as they could be about their own daughters. “When I came home from work at 7:00 p.m., my aunt would ask me:”Vaddi der hogi air?. ‘ But the moment I tell her, ‘Auntie, weight kum kiya hai kya aapne? In shape lag rahe ho!‘, the tone would change and she would say, “Andar aaja beti, chai pee le!” ““And if you ask them for space, they’ll be quick to reply with a ‘kedi space?’ âThe idea of ââpersonal space might not top the charts there, but it certainly makes the neighbors more vigilant,â says Chaturvedi.
Memorable characters of Dolly and Beeji [Dolly Ahluwalia and Kamlesh Gill], Ayushmann Khurrana’s mother and grandmother respectively in Donor Vicky, were among the various cheeky and outspoken aunts Chaturvedi met in Lajpat Nagar. “These women never apologized for their thoughts and words, whether in the bazaar during the day or when they were drinking late at night behind closed doors.”Wo ladki moti toh hai by achhi hai, ‘they might say. And I would be like, “By achhi hai matlab? “ as if it amazes them that plump girls can be nice too, âshe said, laughing out loud.
Chaturvedi recounts the endless nights she spent hearing (or rather, was forced to listen to) the haddippas and the burrs which accompanied the deafening music of the Punjabi. âMost of the men had their own businesses. They came home late, dinner was served late, and the children went to bed late, even though they had school at seven the next morning. I think this tendency to live on their own terms, and for the moment, also comes from the fact that they are refugees. They have already suffered a lot during the Partition, and left behind much of what belonged to them, âshe muses.
Compare Delhi’s migrant community illustrated in Donor Vicky to that in Piku. Bhashkor Banerjee (Amitabh Bachchan), 70, and his daughter Piku (Deepika Padukone), 30, lived in Chittaranjan Park, a few kilometers from Lajpat Nagar, but miles in terms of lifestyle. Like the Punjabis, the Bengalis were also verbose and argumentative, but they also boasted of an intellectual streak which they said set them apart from the Lajpat Nagars and Chandni Chowks. âFor example, Piku is basically an embodiment of the Delhi girls I’ve seen. They are smart, competitive and confident. You can’t take them for a ride. They are more politically aware, clear-sighted and can chat with anyone. who, whether it’s a JNU intellectual or a Haryanavi cop. They have this certain Durga-ness about them, “Juhi said.
Punjabis talkative in Donor Vicky to the talkative Bengalis of Piku, Chaturvedi’s filmography finally settles in the silences of Sircar’s autumnal tale October.
âThe script required a sense of poetry, a hint of melancholy in nature. Unlike Mumbai, where the weather is almost the same all year round, Delhi has multiple seasons. I wanted to show a time lapse in October to describe the exhausting time that Shiuli and Dan’s (Varun Dhawan) family are going through, in the hopes that they will recover from a coma. Also shiuli the flowersâ¦ the green expansesâ¦ they could only come to life in a city like Delhi, âshe says.
That’s not to say that Juhi is unaware of how grim those empty green expanses can be after dark. âThere are so many dark areas in Delhi. When you go through such an area in an auto rickshaw your body language changes. You become more aware because there is always a fear lurking somewhere,â she said. . Her grave mood changes as she moves on to a more amusing memory; she hesitates a few seconds before sharing in the middle of a few laughs: âYou know, I called these men from Delhi Pinchu Kapoors. Their arms are even longer than kanoon ke haath! There’s nowhere they can’t reach! “
Chaturvedi’s humorous perspective allowed him to portray “dark” issues like infertility, constipation, and death in brighter colors. Punjabis who won’t get bogged down in the past, Bengalis who make peace after heated arguments and a lost soul who only knows how to love – all of these characters are part of Chaturvedi. She is aware that, like the city to which she often returns through her stories, her profession cannot be confined either.