‘I don’t believe in the rat race’

‘I don’t believe in the rat race’

Madhuri Dixit-Nene is back to set the screen alight with her presence once more. Here she opens up about her passion for dance, getting back into the industry and how balancing work and family is never an easy task

By Ambica Sachin (ambica@khaleejtimes.com)

Published: Sun 26 Aug 2012, 11:15 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 10:07 PM

She is Bollywood’s original ‘dhak dhak’ girl whose seductive moves and captivating smile ensnared cinemagoers in the 90s. If her Choli ke Peeche Kya Hai in Khalnayak had an entire nation glued to the screen in 1993, she more than ensured the same happened again when she matched steps with one of India’s best male dancers Prabhu Deva in Que Sera Sera (Pukar). While most actresses of her ilk were busy trying to hold on to their spot in the limelight she was willing to give it all up without any hesitation in 1999 when she got married to Dr Sriram Nene and moved to Denver, Colorado, USA, where her husband was based. In 2006 she came back to the industry in what was then slated as her ‘comeback role’ in Aaja Nachle. And though the movie failed to re-ignite her big-screen career, she was more than happy to get back to her family in Denver.

Tongues wagged when after 12 years there she decided to move back to India last year with her family – this time for good - ostensibly to get her kids close to their “Indian roots”. But so far Madhuri has managed to face the barrage of questions on her return with grace and with the support of her husband who has stood beside her like a pillar in her now regular social appearances in Bollywood.

Her passion for dance is evident on screen as well as her stint as a judge on India’s dance reality show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. The fifth season, which is currently airing on Colors, has Madhuri joining forces with co-hosts Karan Johar and Remo Fernandez.

Here in an exclusive interview with City Times, Bollywood’s dancing diva talks family, her comeback movies (Anubhav Sinha’s Gulab Gang and Vishal Bharadwaj’s Dedh Ishqiya, a sequel to the 2010 hit Ishqiya) and her love of dance.

Today Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa has become synonymous with Madhuri Dixit. What was the impetus when you signed on for the show? And how do you feel about it today?

Dance is my passion. Very few people know that the every morning, I dance for at least 3-4 hours. I love dance and last season, I saw my kind of passion in the contestants which made me want to be a part of the show again. Now that the show is on Colors, it’s grander than ever before which ensures that the entertainment and excitement quotient is a notch higher.

You are Bollywood’s ‘dhak dhak’ girl whose smile and dance moves are still considered a benchmark in the industry. And for the most part the industry seems to have welcomed you with open arms. Were you ever doubtful about how Bollywood would react when you decided to move back to India?

Not at all. The industry has been very kind to me and everyone has welcomed me back. I am raring to go now with my upcoming projects Dedh Ishqiya and Gulab Gang.

How easy or difficult has the journey been to regain your position in the industry?

I don’t believe in the rat race. I will continue to do work – be it movies, television shows or endorsements – that appeals to me.

Could you tell us more about recent media reports about your plans to set up a dance academy in India.

I don’t know where these rumours are coming from. I have no plans of opening any dance school. I had conducted a class for my son’s friends at his school a few months ago. I even put up a video on my official website for people to watch, and maybe learn a few steps. But I didn’t approach any government authority for a piece of land to open a dance academy. I don’t know who has reacted and how! I’ve been caught up with my show. I have a lot of work to keep me on my toes. It’s not easy raising two kids and managing work. After Jhalak… I’m starting work on my films. It’s not even been a year since I came back to Mumbai. I still haven’t settled down completely. How can I think of opening a dance school?

What changes do you see in the dance sequences in Bollywood movies today? Who is your favourite dancer from the young crop of actors and actresses?

Choreographers are designing steps which are easy to learn but have the ability to become a nation-wide phenomenon. Among the newer actors and actresses on the big screen, I really enjoy watching Hrithik, Kareena, Katrina and Priyanka dance.

What are your thoughts on increasingly popular ‘item numbers?’

Item numbers have been a part of the Indian film industry for years – for example, Mehbooba from Sholay was an item number. The tag ‘item number’ is all that is new. Personally, I feel that if the script demands a performance of this kind, then there is nothing wrong with it.

Even at the peak of your popularity you never hesitated from matching steps with younger actresses – like Karisma Kapoor in Dil To Pagal Hai and Aishwarya Rai in Devdas. Today if you had a chance to dance alongside any actress, who would you choose?

I would love to dance with Katrina (Kaif), Kareena (Kapoor) or Priyanka (Chopra). They are incredible actresses and light the screen on fire whenever they descend on the dance floor.

What do you miss about your life back in the US? Has it been easy for your kids to adapt to India?

Changing countries is never easy. The one thing I miss most about being in US is the ability to step out of the house and walk into a grocery store to shop for daily necessities. It is something that I cannot do over here without being mobbed! For my kids, it’s a complete change in lifestyle. However, they are young enough that it’s not a drastic change for them. In fact, they have even taken up activities in their free time like learning table, squash, swimming and more. But yes, they do miss the open spaces and parks that were available in Denver in plenty.

Your male counterparts like Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt and Salman are still going strong in the industry. As a married actress how has Bollywood reacted to your return to the industry?

The industry has been really kind to me. I have some projects in the pipeline and I am sure that my audiences will appreciate my roles.

Could you tell us about the roles you will be playing in the two movies you have signed on ? How easy/difficult has it been to balance your acting career with the needs of your family?

I am not at liberty to talk about my roles in my upcoming projects. However, I can confirm that they’re both women-centric movies. Balancing work and family is definitely not easy. However, they understand the nature of my work making it easier for me.

When most actresses would baulk at the thought of sharing screen space with their contemporaries, much less actresses who are younger and lighter on their feet, Madhuri Dixit has no such qualms. At the height of her success, Madhuri matched steps with the much younger Karisma Kapoor in Dil To Pagal Hai (1997).

And while Karisma walked away with the kudos, Madhuri was no less lauded for her moves - she won the Filmfare Best Actress trophy for her role in the movie that year. Six years later she followed it up with a jugalbandi with Aishwarya Rai in Devdas (2002). And managed to gain a FIlmfare Best Supporting Actress for it as well. And at 45, she is ready to do it again - and counts Priyanka, Kareena and Katrina among her wish list of actresses to dance with.

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