Kajol Inspired Me to Come Back – Madhuri Dixit
Madhuri Dixit is still popularly known as ‘Dhak Dhak’ and ‘Ek Do Teen’ Girl. Her popularity has no borders when it comes to desi audience. Madhuri is making a splashing comeback with Yash Raj’s Aaja Nachle.
Madhuri Dixit speaks about her comeback, kids, husband, and working in Aaja Nachle in this exclusive interview.
Bollywood heroes have made successful comebacks, but for heroines coming back to the screen, post-marriage, has remained difficult. Yours is a big comeback. How do you feel?
My kids Aryan and Ryan were 2 and a half and 4 and a half when I decided that now I could do something for me. Coincidentally, it was at that time only that I got an offer from Yash Raj Films, and the best part was that it suited me to a T. As you said, it is a comeback for me, so it comes with responsibilities too. But recently Kajol made her comeback [with YRF's Fanaa] and I must say that was an inspiration for me. I am aware about the responsibility being on me, as it’s a no-hero film. I am not bothered about the film’s success, as the very attempt of a woman-empowerment subject in film is a big thing for me.
What excited you the most about the film?
It has theatre, dance and music in it, and that was good for me. It’s realistic, and the role I play is of a character coming back to her country after 10 years. So one can see there are so many parallel things running between me and Diya [her character]. I could identify myself with her.
The other factor was Yashji. I have worked with him in the past as well. When he said the film will be completed in some months, I had no reason to say no.
What was the first thing that crossed your mind when you said yes to the film?
Hmmm. To be honest, there were many things going on: will I be able to act? Going from Denver to Mumbai; leaving my kids alone. And after five years, will the audience accept me?
And what was your husband’s opinion?
Of course, before saying yes to the film we had a discussion. He told me if I am comfortable working, and if I can manage work and kids, he said I must do it. Because this is the time I can do something for me. He always supports me.
What about the kids? Are they excited to see you on billboards and on TV?
They love the songs of the film. They dance whenever the song comes on TV. They don’t know Hindi but gaane sun sun kar thoda bahut sikh gaye hain [have learnt bits of it by hearing the songs over and over again]. They are too young to understand that their mom is into acting and everything. For them, seeing mom on TV and posters is a big deal! (Laughs)
What change have you seen in the industry, while you’ve been away? Were you able to adjust to the change?
During our times, we were never sure when the shooting was going to take place. Because the producer was not sure when he will get the money from the financer. So, as he used to get money, we were informed about shooting the next day. Due to this, sometimes writers used to write dialogues and scenes on the sets. It was chaos.
But now you have a bound script before the shooting. Technology saves time. I remember previously, it used to take hours for changing the trolley. The best part is sync-sound. You shoot in sync-sound so it saves the time of dubbing. You have been given a time-frame, and you know the film will be complete in that time.
I think this is a really good thing that’s happening to our industry. I was numb and blank when I first faced the camera but as things started I forgot I was away from all this for five years. It was like I had never gone away from here.
What was it like working with director Anil Mehta?
It’s been wonderful. I used to always think I was the only patient person in the world, and that I am very mellow, but when I worked with Anil Mehta, I realized there is another person much more patient than I am, much calmer then I am, and that has helped me a lot. Because he’s always been very patient, even if shooting in the sun or the worst weather, in whatever situation. He has been a pillar to all actors, and since I wanted to do a film with him before, it was wonderful to work with him finally.
And I am glad that I worked with him in this capacity as a director, because he understands performances and is also a big help when you perform. He knows exactly what he wants, what the shot is going to be, and he never hesitated to tell me that `let’s take it a little higher or lower.’ Also, he is very flexible and if I wanted to do something he would let me go ahead and do it. He has not been rigid that he wants it only in a particular way. He understands performance and that’s been the biggest help in this film.
With most of the film’s cast being young, how was the overall atmosphere on the sets?
They are a very warm and professional bunch of people. Konkana, Kunal, Ranvir, Vinay all are fun to work with. We use to have parties on the sets at the drop of a hat. I grew up on celluloid, but all new actors are prepared. I mean, we were very raw during our starting days. But today you can’t make out which is any actress’ first or fifth film. They are well groomed, well polished and know everything.
What about working with choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant?
I think with Vaibhavi, it’s been a challenge for her as well, because I have worked with different choreographers like Saroj Khan, Chinni Prakash, Prabhudeva and so many other people, and they have always been `Madhuri Dixit dances.’ And she has to compete with all the background that I have had, and yet make it look little different, that it’s her style. Also, she had a wide range in this movie from Western dancing to Indian to Rustic. I must say that she has come off with flying colors, and has done a very good job in all the songs and I enjoyed working with her. She is very bright and quick.
What is your look like in the film?
The look is different because I am playing a woman who has spent a good 10 years abroad, and has made a place for herself there. She is a choreographer and her whole attitude is that it’s a man’s world. So she’s not very feminine or delicate, and has to look her part throughout the movie, whereas when she’s dancing or doing nothing, she fits into a different role altogether.
So I think that was the biggest challenge for Manish [Malhotra, designer] for it to appear constantly that she’s not a frail or a delicate woman, and that she’s out there, and tough. To give that look without being over-the-top and keeping a balance is hard, and it’s a mixture of everything that had to be brought across through the movie, and we have successfully managed to do that.
How is life in Denver? I mean, what is your daily routine?
As any homemaker and mother of two would have: Get kids ready for school, serve them breakfast, leave them at school, cook food for the family, have some time for me… Life is good.
Don’t people on the roads or at shops recognize you?
See, I have never been an attention seeking person. Here, everybody knows me so I enjoy the fact that very few people know me there. People who recognize me do come to me, and ask how I am and when they can see me in films.
In the last five years, film genres and filmgoers have changed a lot. How well do you think the audience will accept you?
I have done my part; the ball is now in the people’s court. The film has everything. One can never judge audience response in advance.
Will you do more films?
I get many scripts now also, but it’s not possible to do four films a year. I don’t think I will be doing films regularly. I will not compromise my kids for films. As of now, I have no plans for films.
Interview by Vinay Tripathi