She's 46 years old today and in celebration, the producers of Yeh Jawaani Hai Diwani have released a first look of the song Ghagra, in which Madhuri Dixit does an item number with the star of the film, Ranbir Kapoor. "Doing a song with her (Madhuri) means I can strike one item off my wish list,” Kapoor said in an interview.
Although she made her debut at the age of 17 in the film Abodh (1984), Dixit caught Indian audience's attention in Tezaab (1988) with the song Ek Do Teen. It showcased the qualities that would make Dixit one of Bollywood's most beloved heroines of all time. One: despite all the goop, gloss false eyelashes and exploding hair that qualified as make-up in the '80s could hide Madhuri's smile. Two: she could make the silliest choreography look graceful. A student of kathak since the age of 3, Dixit's first love was dance, not cinema, and this is evident from the way she's lit up the screen in songs picturised upon her. Over the decades, Dixit's performances have transformed many songs that could have been tacky or mediocre otherwise into unforgettable numbers. She managed to make the bust-thrust look sensuous rather than cheap in songs like Dhak Dhak (from Beta in 1992) and Choli ke Peechhey (from Khalnayak in 1993). Even when the films were a mess, like Prem Granth (1996) in which she was romanced by Ranbir's father Rishi Kapoor, Dixit charmed audiences in the songs.
Looking back on Dixit's career on her birthday, it seems Dixit has managed the impossible: she's a heroine, an item number, a mom, a wife and a national heartthrob, all in one. She had no connections to any of the established families in the film industry, but became one of the few heroines who could made the cash registers ring at the box office. Dixit even managed to make a dud like Raja (1995) a hit. It's unlikely her co-star Sanjay Kapoor had much to do with the film's success.
Despite the many item numbers and her no-fuss attitude to "steamy" scenes from a sex scene with Vinod Khanna to being kissed in the shower by Sanjay Dutt, she's done it all and without making a big deal about it — she's successfully carved out a reputation for being a talented actress. And she has the awards to prove it. Dixit holds the record for being nominated the most number of times at the Filmfare Awards and was awarded the Padma Shri in 1998. The rumour mills linked her to co-stars, but ultimately Dixit followed a more traditional path when she married Shriram Nene, an NRI doctor, in 1999 and moved to America. It wasn't a farewell to Bollywood as many had feared. Dixit has appeared in a few films and television shows, the most recent sighting being in Yeh Jawaani Hai Diwani. If the first look of the Ghagra is any indication, then Dixit looks gorgeous and her jhatkas haven't lost any of their oomph. No wonder Ranbir Kapoor was reduced to a mushy fanboy.