Indian cinema has evolved, women are no more just eye candy: Madhuri

Bollywood diva Madhuri Dixit is set to make a comeback on the screen in a never-seen-before avatar in ready-to-release "Dedh Ishqiya", a hinterland based thriller-drama, and thanks Indian cinema for evolving and making way for strong

Wednesday, January 01, 2014 | 12:28:02 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Interview with Madhuri Dixit

Bollywood diva Madhuri Dixit is set to make a comeback on the screen in a never-seen-before avatar in ready-to-release "Dedh Ishqiya", a hinterland based thriller-drama, and thanks Indian cinema for evolving and making way for strong female characters.

"The more depth in the character the more fun you get to perform," Madhuri said when asked how comfortable she was with the bold role in "Dedh Ishqiya", which brings her out of her comfort zone, Madhuri told IANS in an interview.

"I am so thankful that our cinema has come a long way, and I am happy that women are portrayed as characters and not just eye candy in the films. (Women are) very beautifully portrayed on the screen," she said.

With the lethal combination of oomph and talent, Madhuri rose on the film firmament in the late 1980s and 1990s with blockbusters like "Tezaab", "Ram Lakhan", "Dil", "Beta" and "Saajan".

She is also known for her acting prowess in off beat films "Prahaar" and "Mrityudand", which saw her in a non-glamorous avatar.

After ruling the roost for years, Madhuri shifted base to Denver when she married US-based doctor Sriram Nene in 1999. Her last big hit was "Devdas".

In 2007, she attempted a comeback with "Aaja Nachle", which bombed at the box office, and she went back. Four years later, the actress returned to India for good and she hasn't had to hunt for work.

First, she got busy as one of the judges with the fourth and the fifth seasons of the dance reality show "Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa" and then two films - "Dedh Ishqiya" and "Gulaab Gang" - fell into her lap. Interestingly, in both the films, female characters are central to the story lines.

In between, she made a special appearance in the "Ghaghra" song in "Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani".

Her role in "Dedh Ihsqiya" is certainly a giant leap for the actress. Director Abhishek Chaubey is presenting her as a widow looking for a husband and she organises a poetry competition in her house every year where prospective grooms come and try to woo her.

"For women, it's a great time to be in the industry. When they narrated the script to me, I was very excited. It's a role that appealed to me," said Madhuri who has some bold scenes with Naseeruddin Shah in the film, which also stars Arshad Warsi.

"Begum Para is a beautiful character written by Abhishek. She is a poetic woman. She is a widow and her late husband's wish was that if she ever marries again, she should marry a poet.

"So every year she organises a swayamvar for her. She has been completely unimpressed for two years, but in the third year Babban (Arshad) comes," she said.

Begum Para in "Dedh Ishqiya" marks her second innings in filmdom post marriage and when asked how important is the film for her, she said: "Everybody wants to see me after a gap. Begum is a strong character. She has many multi-layered kind of a woman. How the film does is very important."

"Dedh Ishqiya" is a sequel to "Ishqiya", a film that made its lead actress Vidya Balan a name to reckon with.

Co-produced by Vishal Bharadwaj and Raman Maroo, "Dedh Ishqiya" will release Jan 10.

Is she getting cold feet?

"I am not nervous, I am very excited about it. The script is very good and I think it's a complete entertainer," said a confident Madhuri.

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Posted on: 02 January 2014 at 8:26am
I would say the opposite.

Women in the 60s and 50s were not eye candy

However, now they are! Item songs etc.

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Posted on: 02 January 2014 at 7:45am
Yo! I'm super happy we'll see more of you in some really significant roles now. Hindi cinema indeed has come a long way, thanks to people like Bhardwaj, Anurag Kashyap, Abhishek Chaubey. Looking forward to Dedh Ishqiya.

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Posted on: 01 January 2014 at 2:16pm
Exactly! Look at 'some' Vidya Balan, Kareena Kapoor and Deepika Ram leela...Priyanka's item song in Ram leela...Urm Eye candy or what!?

*Note I say 'some' cuz in the past there are some films which these actresses are in that are 'watchable' with the family and there might be films I haven't seen and heard reviews about. :) x

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Posted on: 01 January 2014 at 12:48pm
Actresses that are talented do get meaty, substantial roles -- while actresses like Katrina who can't deliver dialogues and are as emotionless as a rock.. are used as eye candy in films. So, unlike the rest of you commenting below, I agree with Madhuri. Look at Vidya Balan films, Kareena Kapoor in Satyagraha, Mahie Gill in Saheb Biwi aur Gangster, and Deepika in Ram Leela.

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Posted on: 01 January 2014 at 11:52am
I feel the total opposite. I feel like women are more and more becoming just eye candy in films. Bollywood movies back in the days had much stronger roles for women. Dhoom 3 is a perfect example..there really was no need for a female character, but why did they cast Katrina? Eye candy. Bollywood movies are becoming worse and worse for females in the industry.

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Posted on: 01 January 2014 at 11:52am
I say the opposite 2 what madhuri is claiming. I think BW movies back in the days were better where women/actresses weren't in the movies just for eye candy but actually had stronger roles and actually acted. nowadays women r jus there 4 item songs and eye candy. so DISAGREE with u madhuri.

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Posted on: 01 January 2014 at 11:27am
Everything is backwards. I would say that earlier Hindi movies had stronger roles for women, and it's only in recent years that they have become eye candy. Think of the classic actresses (Meena Kumari, Nutan, Nargis, Waheeda Rehman, Madhubala, Vyajantimala, Hema Malini, Shabana Azmi, etc.) - they all had strong roles in their films (and were beautiful without being "eye candy" in their movies). Even Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit had strong women-centric movies. Most of the actresses today are known for either dancing (mostly Western-style) to increasingly cheap songs in "item" numbers, wearing as few clothes as possible, and doing "bold" scenes. Also, there seems to be a great deal of emphasis now-a-days on action films that especially treat women like accessories similar to James Bond's women. "Women are no longer eye candy" - what a joke! I wish I could insert an icon here to roll my eyes... :-P

Edited on:02 January 2014 at 10:24am

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Posted on: 01 January 2014 at 11:16am
I agree with you Zara. My boss who is a Caucasian American knows a little about Bollywood and says your movies are so beautiful and there is nothing dirty in them and I was like all of it has changed today, Bollywood has became Hollywood and a lot of it is just to sell the movie with extreme love making scenes and short clothes.
I don't remember the last time I sat with mom and watched a desi movie because of how different they are today.

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Posted on: 01 January 2014 at 11:00am
"women are no longer an eye candy?"...Sorry I wish I could agree with you but MOST bollywood films these days are about showing at least a bit of boob or belly or some body part to indicate 'eye candy'. I sadly have to confess that I haven't watched one bollywood movie for a long time with my family without forwarding a 'scene' or changing channel for a while. In future I was so looking forward to telling my kids how great bollywood was like HSSH and DDLG and KKKG etc film, but seeing how bollywood is today and how women are dangled like keys for men, I definitely won't be telling my kids anything. Sorry if my opinion offended anyone, but ignore me as it's only my opinion. x

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Posted on: 01 January 2014 at 8:23am
women are no longer an eye candy? ya right!! Katrina was an eye candy in Dhoom 3. she's always the eye candy in every movie.

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