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SHE’S BACK

Superstar, super mom. The actress who makes the silver screen go dhak-dhak. The ‘ordinary’ homemaker in a white picket fence house in Denver. The mother who teaches her youngest to dance like a pro. Here’s looking at Madhuri, her magic and her dreams

Written by Harneetsingh |
November 23, 2007 3:55:52 pm

Every film journalist who has met her has a favourite MD (Madhuri Dixit) story. MD stories are not about diva tantrums, eccentricity or mood swings. Instead everyone raves about her beauty. My favourite one is actually not my own but was told to me by a veteran film journalist who met Madhuri in the summer of 1997 on the sets of Dil To Pagal Hai. She was shooting the Arre Re Arre track and looked ethereal in white. Through his most memorable interview, he said, he didn’t make eye contact with Madhuri. “I was scared,” he said “that my gaze would stray.”

Unforgettable: that’s what Madhuri Dixit has come to stand for in the minds of anyone who loves the movies. And why not? After all, she was, for more than a decade, the closest thing Bollywood had to a female superstar, her popularity transcending class barriers and leaping over art and mainstream fences. Small beauty salons that dot the city where Madhuri became famous still have her posters in their windows. They have even made a movie about someone who wanted to be like her (Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon).

And now, 21 years after she made her debut in Abodh, she is on her way to a comeback in Yash Raj Films’ dance carnival Aaja Nachle. The excitement at the Yash Raj office is palpable. Madhuri is holding court. Casually attired in a colourful kurta and jeans, she is just as we want to remember her. The smile is still 1000 watts and so is the warmth. Right now she’s in the middle of a pre-release publicity blitz—she’s coordinating her dates for an appearance at the grand finale of the music reality show, Star Voice of India and giving directions to her make-up man in chaste Marathi. She has photo shoots lined up for two back-to-back magazine covers. There are numerous television specials to be canned, a promotional visit to Delhi and loads of interviews on the cards. The pressure is intense but she’s enjoying it to the hilt.

If she has any grouse it’s that the media is calling Aaja Nachle her comeback. “When did I ever leave? It’s not that I can do 20 films a year now. Remember, I did Devdas after I got married. So there is no question of going away,” she says.

While the industry awaits the reception she gets in Aaja Nachle, Madhuri is unperturbed. Facing the camera after a hiatus of five years came quite naturally. “The moment the camera was switched on, everything just melted away. Acting is like swimming and biking. Once you get the hang of it, you never forget it,” she says.

Even after so many years, she can’t explain the Madhuri Mania. “I don’t know what clicked about me. Maybe since I played so many different roles I made a connection with the audience. Beyond that I can’t comment,” she says.

Quiz her on what she misses most about Bollywood and pat comes the reply, “Being a mom to two energetic sons doesn’t give me much time to miss anything.” Bring up the subject of her kids and see her eyes sparkle. She’s missing four-and-a-half-year-old Arin and two-and-a-half-year-old Ryan who have stayed back in Denver with dad Dr Sriram Nene. “It’s a 22-hour flight and a 12-hour time difference. I didn’t want to upset their schedule. Moreover, I’m so busy with the promotion of the film that I wouldn’t be able to give them time,” she says.

While it’s clear that being a mom is the most important role in her life it’s still difficult to picture her fixing breakfast, buying groceries or cleaning the house. She is Madhuri Dixit after all. She chortles at my statement. “Let me tell you, my life in Denver is very, very ordinary. And let me also tell you that I’m a very good mom… no make that, super mom.”

In Denver, she also lives her childhood dream of a house with a white picket fence, six children (“But after I had two I realised two is enough”) and a dog (“My husband, Ram likes cats so I also have two of them: Melvin and Sasha”).

No amount of stardom can ever compare with the feeling of seeing her children grow. “My kids are my legacy. They carry a part of me. They are my connection with the world even when I won’t be there anymore. My movies are something to nurture my soul but they don’t define me,” she says. She pauses and then says, ‘’There are days when I’m in the mall in Denver, busy shopping for groceries when suddenly I hear excited chatter. People flock around me and ask, ‘Are you Madhuri Dixit?’”

For a minute, she says, she is lost. “I ask myself, am I Madhuri? It’s a funny experience but it does happen.’’
Though Arin and Ryan are too small to comprehend who their mom is, they are slowly realizing that there’s something different when they come here. “The other day Arin asked me, ‘Mom why do they call you Madhuri Dixit in Bombay?’” she laughs. Madhuri feels her eldest takes after her. “He poses for pictures and totally hams it up. I call him a Drama King but Ram says, ‘Actress ka beta hai na.’” The little one, Ryan is a natural dancer like his mom. “Ryan swings his hips very well so whenever he’s dancing, I tell him, ‘Shake your bum, shake your bum.’ When he saw the promos of Aaja Nachle, Ryan started telling me, ‘Mom, now you shake your bum,’” she laughs.

The super mom is in a mood to dole out more home truths. She proudly tells me that she’s quite a cook—she has learnt how to make dosas and chicken tikka masala. She sings lullabies to put her sons to sleep and occasionally also swings around with them to Bollywood songs. Clearly, she’s a natural in the role of a homemaker.

Her future assignments also depend on her family. Arin starts school early next year while Ryan will begin pre-school. “The film should be special enough for me to take the effort of me coming all the way from the US. It’ll take a lot of planning and has to be with someone who can stick to the plan like the way Yashji did for Aaja Nachle.”
Husband Ram is quite supportive. “He encourages me not to give up acting and kathak.” Madhuri is also keen to get back to her riyaaz and she hopes to cut a music album soon.

Ask her if there’s something missing from her CV and she says with a wistful smile, “I haven’t been able to work with Mr Bachchan. We came close to it twice and I even shot for a film but other than the Makhana song in Bade Miyan Chote Miyan it just hasn’t happened. But you never know. As they say, tomorrow is another day.” We’re waiting for tomorrow.

HER FAVE DIVAS
Vidya Balan
When I saw Parineeta, I saw that she could connect with the audience. She is definitely here to stay
Konkona Sen Sharma
She was brilliant in Page 3. Since I’ve worked with her in Aaja Nachle, I know that she’s very good
Rani Mukerji
She carries her scenes very well. When Rani is emoting, you can feel the emotions with her
Preity Zinta
I recently saw Salaam Namaste and loved her in it. I love the way she carries off all those bubbly roles
Kangana Ranaut
She was very different in Gangster. She has her own style, is very raw and that sets her apart from everyone else

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