Joined: 09 October 2005
Joined: 12 January 2006
Joined: 22 August 2010
Joined: 22 August 2010
Joined: 23 April 2011
Joined: 22 August 2010
She debuted as a vulnerable child bride in Abodh, and soared to stardom as the gorgeous babe with a million-watt smile. She's taught us our Ek, do, teen; made our heart race, dhak, dhak, dhak; teased us with her riddles –Choli ke peeche kya hai? – and always left us wanting more. For two decades, Madhuri Dixit ruled the Indian male imagination as the ultimate fantasy: always sassy, indisputably sexy, and yet curiously innocent. Men wanted to marry her, women wanted to be her.
Madhuri Dixit will be seen in two films shortly and is presently judging the dance show Jhalak Dikhla Jaa.
"Madhuri Dixit would become Hindi cinema's only Mohini. Madhubala was mesmerizing, Waheeda Rehman engrossingly attractive, Hema Malini the ultimate dream girl and Rekha sensational, but Madhuri—oh, she was something else. An incidental sum total of desirable parts of moh (allure) and maya(illusion)," notes critic Shefalee Vasudev, "As a heroine, Madhuri was neither the 'imported' Alpha Cat nor the Omega Kitty but a rare combination of 'Hindustani sexy'."
Her multi-genre movie career set a new standard of success that Bollywood divas aspire to. She's the superstar that the likes of Kareena Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai want to be: A number one actress who can wow the front row viewers and peanut gallery critics alike. Her five Filmfare awards and the highest number of Best Actress nominations (13) reflect that winning formula of exquisitely honed talent and mesmerising beauty.
And now, at the age of 45, Madhuri is back in the country – and will be back soon on the big screen. After 12 years of quiet family life in Denver, she's returned to Mumbai with her husband and two sons, her arrival greeted with widespread media speculation and anticipation. There's the usual gig as a judge on the dance show Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, but more excitingly, two 2012 releases with Bollywood's hottest directors: Vishal Bhardwaj's Dedh Ishqiya and Anubhav Sinha's Gulab Gang.
We catch up with the unparalleled Ms Dixit during a shoot for Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa in Mumbai.
You described the decision to return as the best decision of your life, but you also said that what you liked most about Denver was the freedom that comes with anonymity. How are you adjusting to the lack of anonymity and freedom?
That was the time I really needed my freedom and my anonymity because my kids were young and they were just growing up. And I wanted to spend that time with them. I wanted to stay away from the limelight.
But, I used to come back (to India) and I've done a lot of work even after marriage. I've done films like Hum Tumhare Hai Sanam, Lajja, Devdas; all were done after I got married.
But that was the time I needed for my kids. I wanted to be with them, nurture them, because that's the time you can really give them your values. Now they're grown up, they're a little more independent. They make decisions, (about) some of the things that they want to do.
And I thought (that) this is the time when we can actually make the move. Where they're old enough, and yet young enough that we can move from one country to another – it's not a life-changing experience for them. It's a smoother transition because they're younger, they can adapt to any environment.
Do they miss not being able to run out to the nearest ice-cream parlour with their mom?
Yes, they miss that. And what they miss most is the space in Denver – where they could go out and play. In Mumbai, it's cramped, there are not very many parks to play outside,. But they're as busy (here) as they were there. They're learning to play the tabla, they're learning squash, they're learning swimming, they're doing a lot of stuff.
The movie Aaja Nachle was a great movie but it didn't do well at the box-office. Now you have two movies slated for release: Gulab Gang and Dedh Ishqiya. So what did you learn from the experience of Aaja Nachle?
Aaja Nachle was not the only flop film in my life; there were others which didn't do very well. That it was the film I did most recently so people remember it, they'll always talk about it.
With every experience like that, you learn. But what happens in film- making is, you cannot really predict the success of the movie. As a plot, I selected something that was close to my heart, and something that is happening today. People are moving away from our Indian styles of dancing, they're adopting the western styles and so on.
But sometimes, it's just something that goes wrong, and you cannot really predict what's going to happen with a movie.
Do you have a different criteria now for picking roles and scripts than when you started? Different things that you look for?
Well, I'm looking for scripts that will be challenging. Roles that will be challenging. Something that excites me, something that I feel will give me an opportunity to do something new – that's what I'm looking for.
So more than just playing the pretty girl or the love interest?
Well, if you see my career span, I think I'm way ahead. I cannot be playing those roles any more because those will have no depth to them. I need scripts that [have] depth and I can show the kind of talent that I have.
So you believe this is the right time for it? In the last couple of years, we've had very, very strong, successful movies that are women-centric…
The audience has also matured. They're ready to accept those kind of films. Film makers are coming forward and making those kind of films. The budgets are allowing them to do that. The kind of theatres we have facilitate it because they're multiplexes, you can make a film for a niche audience.
A lot is happening in the Indian film industry, and, that's why I say that I'm here at the right time.
But now you have to compete with actresses like Vidya Balan, Karishma Kapoor, Sridevi for the same role… Given our audiences favour male-dominated or male-oriented films, how many Kahaanis can there possibly be in a year and how many roles could it mean for you?
I think it's taking a leap today – the Indian film industry (that is). I think the leap is for better films, with better content, something different for everyone, so I'm very hopeful and I think about it very positively.
So you think there is a very strong possibility we could have an Indian Meryl Streep or Helen Mirren playing a sexy or sexual or strong woman who carries the weight of the movie on her, like a Devil wears Prada or something similar?
Well, I don't know if we are there yet, but, definitely, we'll get there.
In an essay on your career, which was in a really great collection of essays edited by Bhaichand Patel – called Twenty Greatest Stars of Bollywood – critic Shefali Vasudev described you as the inventor of Hindustani Sexy and what she said was that you combined a sensuality with a certain innocence, an Indianness, which was very different from previous models of being sexy, which tended to being very Westernised. Do you think we've gone too far, when almost every leading actress has to do some kind of raunchy act?
I think the kind of sensuousness that I portrayed on screen was not in your face; it was very… in my dance, in my kathak, it was called lasya. Lasya portrays sensuousness, but with shyness.
I think every individual brings a different personality on the screen, and every actress has a different personality. That's the persona I got on the screen. But there are different personas as well. You cannot generalize this is the ideal or this is not the ideal. It's just personalities and how people look at them and their perspective on what sexy is.
Do you think there's pressure to look sexy and that you must be able to carry off an item number?
I don't think it's necessary to do that. Sensuousness does not mean (you need) a dance number to get it through. It could be just your personality, the way you are. It doesn't have to be a dance number.
You think the pressure is more perceived than real?
What is you reaction to Dirty Picture?
I thought it was a brilliant movie. It was a very nice movie, very well made. It was about, you know, sexiness and everything, and the dialogues were like, 'Oh my God, did she really say this"! But it was done with purity and sincerity – and that was not missed, because it came from the heart. I thought it was a very, very, good movie.
Would you do that role?
I don't know. That's exactly what I thought about after seeing the movie and I don't have an answer. I don't know if I would have done it. Maybe I would have said, "No, no, it's a little too risque for me…"
Given your age, and, given you're married and have kids, would you do a role that is very sexual, erotic or built around a woman's sexuality?
I just cannot say "Yes" or "No" to that because I need to know what the script is, what the treatment is, what the director's wanting and how he's going to treat the whole subject. I just cannot say "Yes" or "No" just because you're asking me a question – but I would definitely give it a listen. I would hear it, and then my aesthetics come in. And I would be like, "Hmm, maybe not now" or whatever.
Do you think that's liberating as well? That an older woman can be seen as sexual, sensual and sexy?
I don't perceive age as in 'age' per se, but I think your talent is what you are at any age. whether you're 16 or 20 or 30, your talent is not going to go away and that's something you will always have. For me, that is very important than just the age factor. Everybody's talking about age and aging; but I think it's what you can bring on – at any age, with your talent. Age is just a number.
You're one of MF Husain's most famous muses. His demise was a great tragedy and he was mourned by many as a loss to the nation. It was perhaps a greater loss that he died in exile from his own land. What are your views on his death and on the attacks he faced?
I think there will be extreme people in the world. There's nothing you can do about that. But he(MF Husain) as a person was very nice. He was a genuine well-wisher of mine, so when he passed away, I really felt the loss, because he genuinely wished me well and (I felt) the same for him. He was a maverick – I just looked at him and said, 'Gosh, I wish I could be like this at 95 – still going." That was what was wonderful about him. Like the age factor I was talking about. Talent is talent, at whatever age.
Remo D'Souza, choreographer and Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa judge, said that young people don't want to learn Indian classical dance any more and want to learn western dance. And yet, your mother was not allowed to learn dance?
Yes, she (my mom) was growing up at a time when dance was like, a no-no: A girl from a good family doesn't dance. She was allowed to sing, though. She learned Hindustani classical music, but she was never allowed to dance. So when she was growing up, she was very clear that, "When I have kids, I have daughters, I'm going to teach them dancing, I'm going to make sure they know how to dance."
It seems ironic that now when dance is considered great and people are excited about competing in shows like Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, they are are not interested in Indian classical dance…
The thing with classical dancing is, it needs a lot of practice, it takes time to learn. You cannot just go to a class for three months and say, "I've learnt it," because it's never ending. Even today I can't say, "I've learnt how to dance Kathak," because there's so much innovation you can do with whatever you know, there are so many things you can do with whatever you know.
Today, kids have lesser patience, they want to do things really fast, overnight. I would say (to them), our classical dances are beautiful, they're so rich in culture, that they should just try and learn. Have a little bit of patience, and they can do so much more.
Joined: 26 October 2010
Joined: 09 October 2005
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