In her own words, the diva of the 90s Urmila Matondkar wanted to present to her audience “an Urmila they haven’t seen before” with her every new release. The films she delivered post her 1995 superhit Rangeela justified her statement quite well. She has movies like Pinjar, Bhoot, Ek Haseena Thi, Pyar Tune Kya Kiya and Kaun to her credit. Urmilla acted in films more for her passion for the art rather than for awards. Despite being lauded for her performance, she maintained distance from all the attention that comes along with being a Bollywood actor. Urmila checked all the boxes for being recognised as the most spirited leading lady of the bygone era. She was a terrific actor, an even better dancer and a diva. She was a head turner even when it came to her fashion statements.
Urmila Matondkar ventured into Bollywood as a lead actor in 1992 fantasy film Chamatkar but it was only with Ram Gopal Varma’s Rangeela, where the actor played a young girl Mili who wishes to work in movies, that she gained prominence in the industry. Some other indelible films of Urmila include Satya in which she held her own despite Manoj Bajpayee being the lead actor and Kaun, in which she sent a shiver down the spine with her horror act as a possessed woman. Her 2003 film Pinjar, an adaptation of Amrita Pritam’s novel of the same name, had her playing a rape victim Puro. In the National Award-winning film, Urmila displayed the grief of a woman reduced to a mere skeleton without any signs of exaggeration, an acting trait which was much prevalent in Bollywood in those times.
Just out of a credible performance in Pinjar, in 2004, Urmila Matondkar gave cinephiles another brilliant performance in Ram Gopal Varma’s thriller Ek Hasina Thi. She was a perfect hero in the movie where Saif Ali Khan played a villain. Her transformation from a gullible person to a cynical woman was applauded and the sequences where she was behind the bars established her as the driving force of the movie. Her other remarkable performances could be witnessed in films like Pyar Tune Kya Kiya and Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara.
When it came to Urmila Matondkar’s dance moves, there wasn’t a moment when she was below the mark of perfection. Her dance numbers like “Rangeela Re” (Rangeela), “Chamma Chamma” (China Gate), “Kambaqt Ishq” (Pyar Tune Kya Kiya), “Tanha Tanha” (Rangeela) and others made her conquer the hearts of many. Heavy lehengas or jewellery never hindered Urmila’s performance as a dancer and she did all the ‘latka-jhatkas’ with much finesse and grace. She slipped into her dancing shoes as easily as she got into the skin of her characters. Even today, all her dance numbers have people dancing along with her.
Talking about his muse Urmila, Ram Gopal Varma wrote in his book, “One of my primary motives in making Rangeela was to capture Urmila’s beauty eternally on camera. I would say that I have never felt more of a cinematic high than when I watched her through my camera on the sets of Rangeela.” Not just as ace actor and dancer, Urmila was on the top of the fashion game as well. Her dressing sense both on and off screen made fashion statements and the 90s kids took no time in copying her. If you recall her from the film Rangeela, you will remember it was her character which started the trend of those high waist pants and the knotted denim shirts. The ageless beauty who turns 44 today has been setting style goals even today. Scroll through her Instagram profile and you will know why Urmila is a diva at 44 too.
On her birthday, we wish the actor of such finesse to return to the silver screen with her impeccable acting and dancing skills.