It would be a cliché to talk about her radiant smile. But then, it is that smile, which makes hearts skip a beat when Madhuri Dixit Nene flashes her megawatt pearlies. At 50, the ageless dhak dhak girl wields enough charm to turn the knees of all age groups to jelly. At the height of her popularity (not that it has decreased at all), Madhuri Dixit was the one of the most popular female superstars in Bollywood, her fame transcending regions. More than two decades after she made her debut in Abodh, she is on her way to ruling the set once again – not just as an actor and dancer par excellence, but also as a film producer. The Padma Shri award recipient also juggles her online dance ‘school’. The pressure is intense but she’s enjoying it to the hilt.
As an actor, dancer, eternal heart stealer, wife, mother, UN Celebrity Advocate for Child Rights and even singer, Dixit has her hands full! “I say with a lot of gratitude that I am blessed. I don’t know about the ‘heart stealer’ bit though (laughs). I take all my roles seriously, and enjoy each and every one of them,” says the charming actor. She is also venturing into film production, and does not rule out wielding the director’s megaphone “one day”, but she wants to take her own time. “I would love to direct a film. But not at the moment. I want to be able to gather the wisdom and experience as a producer first. So I am producing my first Marathi film. I would then like to produce a Hindi film as well. Direction may happen in five to six years, but not before that. Acting is about stepping into someone else’s shoes. To me, it is about conveying the heart and soul of a character for all to see and experience. I have read many scripts lately and finally found one that truly inspires me. I guess you will have to judge for yourself when my first Marathi film comes out next year,” she says. And what about her latest Bollywood venture, Total Dhamaal, for which she has reunited with one of her favourite co-stars, Anil Kapoor? “Anilji and I have done 17 films together! Total Dhamaal is the 18th! Can you imagine the kind of times we have shared? Total Dhamaal was all that and more; it was an ode to old times and reliving what we have shared for all these years. It was a lot of fun working with him again. I want to do many more movies with him, provided there are good scripts,” smiles Dixit.
Women in focus
From Tezaab, Beta, Khalnayak and Mrityudand to more recently Aaja Nachle, Gulab Gang, Dedh Ishqiya and Devdas – she has played women who have a mind of their own and are not props to the hero. But she has also straddled commercial cinema with equal elan. Ask her about the sort of roles that really excite her and she is quick to reply: “I do not like it when my character requires me to be just dolled-up on screen. Women think and analyse; we are more than just pretty faces. I want to be a part of a movie where the woman character has her own identity. I have always tried to essay roles that contribute to the narrative of the film. That is the sort of cinema I like and will be doing in the future as well.”
Like for any mother, her two sons are priority, and her life revolves around them. Consequently, so do her cinematic decisions and choices. “I want to do quality cinema only. That is because I have children who need me. And if I have to be away from them, the reason had better be good. My boys are my legacy, they carry a part of me. My movies are something to nurture my soul with but they don’t define me. Films or other projects should be special enough for me to take the effort of getting out of the house.”
Dance has always been an integral part of her life. And she never gets tired of talking about its importance in her life. “The one thing I will never ever give up is dance! And in this, my husband backs me completely. In fact Dance With Madhuri, the online dance academy that I run, was Ram’s (Sriram Nene, her husband) brainchild and he is very excited about it. I also hope to cut a music album shortly. I have recorded a few tracks for it and I hope people will like my singing.”
The extent of the global phenomena that is Madhuri Dixit can be gauged from the fact that there will soon be an American TV series based on her. How does she think she would feel looking at her life portrayed on screen? “I think it is a show inspired by my life and not a blow-by-blow account of it. I was pleasantly surprised in the summer of 2016 when Sri (filmmaker and writer Sri Rao) said he wanted to create a television series inspired by my life in America. The story follows how I settle down with my bi-cultural family and try to bring a colourful lifestyle to an otherwise dull town. As Ram and I chatted with Sri, the story evolved and Mark Gordon Productions came on board, wanting to produce it. Bringing in Priyanka Chopra to essay me was perfect. It’s a fun concept and will be shot as a singlecamera sitcom, which will blend comedic and dramatic elements. I think it would be entertaining.”