By Shama Bhagat
She could never really stay away from the arclights too long, that’s when Madhuri Dixit decided to quit her idyllic world that she created in America and come home to Mumbai. While her comeback film Aaja Nachle did nothing to boost her career, it taught her to be careful with her choice of films.
Begum Para’s character in Dedh Ishqiya won her several accolades and now, she’s all set to win over her fans as Rajjo, a crusader for women rights in her forthcoming film Gulaab Gang (GG).
Though she was really keen to talk about GG, we tried changing the topic frequently. Here are excerpts from the conversation.
We are currently experimenting with a new format of presenting Bollywood interviews. Hence, we have only reproduced her answers and not our questions. Also, we didn’t try to join the quotes with a connecting line as they would do in a traditional newspapers as we thought her answers, below, are self-explanatory.
Changes in the film industry
“Abodh (her debut film) literally came walking my way. Some one came with the proposal for the film because they knew that I dance well. My family was not into films, so it was a complete no-no for us. But when we were told that the film was being made by the Barjatyas, who we were told were good people. When we met them, we found them to be genuine. For me, it was a different journey.”
“The struggle was to prove myself every time. But a lot of changes have taken place in the industry now. Earlier, there were few actresses and hair dressers; girls never ventured into the make-up department. There were few women directors too. We had (Pandhari) Dada doing make-up then, but now you see women in all fields of film-making There women writers, directors, cinematographers. It’s heartening to see them going places.”
What kept her grounded
(Pointing to her family picture), “My parents taught me to be what I am today. Before my marriage, my mom was my biggest strength throughout my ups and downs. She always had encouraging words for me as she had faith in me. After my marriage, I found a strong support in my mother-in-law and father-in-law. My mother-in-law is also a professional, a real estate agent and her daughter is a corporate lawyer. She encourages me and holds fort for me when I am on the sets. She looks after my house and kids when I am busy working. I have been lucky to have been surrounded by strong level-headed women, who have kept me grounded. My people have never treated me like a star. The moment I walked into the house, my mother would scold me, “Why have you kept your room unclean? Go put your things in place and keep it clean.” I always had a reality check at home. I am an actress and have fans who adore me, but at home I am a mother, a daughter, a wife and so many other things.”
“I never wanted to be an actress, but became one. Once I became an actress, I wanted to be the best — be it in dance and acting. At the same time, I wanted to have a family, a home and kids. Those were the dreams that I nursed. We were four siblings and I love kids. So I got married, had two kids and made a home in Denver. Even during the peak of my career, I was never in the limelight. It was just home and work for me. I never liked to party and that was a baggage I always carried along with me. Even in Denver, raising my kids was a dream. I miss the beautiful roads and parks there. We had lot of open spaces there. Though Mumbai infrastructure is bad, my children love it here. My family and relatives are based here, so they come and meet me. My children love their school.
Propagating education for the girl child
“I have plans and will reveal all at the right time. I am working towards it in a different way at the moment through my dance academy online — girls can just log in online and learn dance and it’s for every age group. I believe I am imparting some kind of education, be it just dance which is the first step of education. I want to see my academy grow.”
Number logic: Size zero and the 100-crore club
“The 100 crore club expectations has just added to the cut-throat competition around. However, the good side is that the film industry is more organised now and the actors well groomed. The remuneration has also gone up. While in our time, we learned on the job.”
Friendship in Bollywood
“I am not friends with anyone. I didn’t have time to make friends as I was busy shooting three shifts-a-day, except in 1994 when I decided to take Sundays off. But if I had an outdoor shoot I had to go. After that I got married. But I respect whoever I worked with. When I meet Mithun Chakraborty, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan or Jackie Shroff I have respect and fondness for them.”
Her list of best from the current crop
“I like all the actresses of today. They all dance well. There’s Deepika Padukone in the ‘Nagada’ song, Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma. I like Parineeti Chopra, she is very talented and so is Vidya Balan and Rani Mukerji. There is so much talent.”
On working with the Khans?
“I had a great time working with Shah Rukh Khan. He recently got his leg injured but still he has so much energy in him. I don’t know from where he gets the strength and energy. He is always on fire, and goes all out to be the best for his fans. He is very passionate and dedicated about his work even today.”
“I liked Salman Khan in his earlier films like Saajan, Andaz Apna Apna, Hum Apke Hai Kaun! I see a completely different Salman now. Earlier, he was very mischievous, but today he is more relaxed and wants to do good work. I find him a lot more committed. When you see him doing a character of Chulbul Pandey, there is a different maturity that he brings into it. I love his dancing too. Earlier, he would just dance, but now he has got his own style and a swagger, which is really wonderful. I would like to do a masala entertainer with him if I am offered a film.”
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