Madhuri Dixit on Bucket List, Ranbir Kapoor's cameo, 'Ek Do Teen' controversy and Total Dhamaal
Madhuri Dixit opens up on the 'Ek Do Teen' controversy, reuniting with Anil Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor in Sanju, and her first Marathi film, Bucket List.
After a four year hiatus, Madhuri Dixit returns to the screen with some big projects in her kitty. Looking luminous in a pastel kurta, it’s refreshing to see her drop her guard at the slightest nudge especially since she is known to be very proper.
Often called the last superstar who ruled the Hindi films between late '80s and early 2000s, Madhuri opens up on the 'Ek Do Teen' controversy, reuniting with Anil Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor in Sanju, and her first Marathi film, Bucket List.
Bucket List is about to release. After that you are doing Kalank and Total Dhamaal — three completely different genres. Isn’t this another golden phase of your career?
It is a wonderful time for me, my career, I couldn’t have asked for more. Bucket List is a quirky, slice-of-life film where I am playing a housewife. She has lost her own identity while taking care of her husband, children and the entire family, and when she tries to fulfil the bucket list, there is a kind of self-realisation. It is a simple story. She has simple dreams but there is lot of joy in the film. You will smile throughout thinking that how this woman, who is so domesticated and has rarely stepped out of her house, goes on this journey. Total Dhamaal is a mad screwball comedy and Kalank is a classic period film.
Have you ever made a bucket list for yourself?
Well, I used to have certain goals in life, say for instance, winning various competitions in school. I remember, I was hugely disappointed when I got the second prize for my first inter school competition where I performed kathak. My mom told me to participate again the next year and win the trophy, and for three consecutive years I came back with a trophy!
Ranbir Kapoor has a cameo in Bucket List. Would you say that it was payback since you had agreed to do the 'Ghagra' song with him in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani?
(Laughs out loud) No, no I won’t call it payback because he did it with utmost honesty and he immediately agreed. We were all surprised. People were going mad seeing Ranbir on the sets of a Marathi film and I had to keep telling them to work and not just stare at him. He is a very charming person. I had to make just one phone call and he said, “Yes, of course, I will do it.”
How did you like him in the teaser of Sanju?
He is brilliant. I felt as if he has just immersed himself into the part. It is truly amazing.
What changes do you notice in the industry as compared to the '90s when you were at the top?
It has become far more professional. Earlier, we used to do three shifts and shoot so many films simultaneously but these days most actors do just one movie at a time, though due to circumstances I am currently doing two — Total Dhamaal and Kalank. There is a lot of discipline, the script is always ready and a lot of work goes into characters, like what they should be wearing, their make-up, hair style etc. Actors today don’t have to make too much effort. But the biggest development is having vanity vans that didn’t exist earlier and it was very inconvenient for the actresses. And what hasn't changed is the effort to deliver a good performance.
Do you think there is too much pressure and stress on box office figures?
It was the same even in those days, nothing has changed on that front. Everybody has their eyes glued to box office numbers. Been there done that, I am not trying to prove anything. I am just trying to play different characters and hone my art, and if the film works, that’s great.
You are often called the last superstar of Hindi cinema. Who do you think will be next?
Even in my heydays, I wouldn’t get into this number game. I always said that we are not horses competing on a race course. It is art and one should appreciate what we bring on screen. Alia looked like a kid in her first film but after that she has gone on to play such varied roles with Udta Punjab, Raazi...so when we start giving her a number, it is in a way insulting her. Then, I loved Priyanka and Deepika in Ram Leela, Bajirao Mastani, Padmaavat...they have played such beautiful parts.
So when you look at them, do you feel they are in a better place work culture-wise?
I don’t think too much because I can’t change the time period. Also, I live in the present and don't believe in looking back. But yes, considering the conditions that we worked in and shot our movies, I think we made some very good films. But definitely today work conditions are much better and this is how it should be.
Does doing a Marathi film feel like a homecoming for you?
It is a homecoming because I am a Maharashtrian and when I went on the set and shot for them I felt like I was part of the family. My upbringing is Maharashtrian so it resonates when you meet like-minded people. My co-stars like Vandana Tai, Shubha Khote, Renuka Shahane... all these actors are so good. It was great fun working with them.
Raveena Tandon recently said that if Andaz Apna Apna were to be remade, they would have Salman and Aamir romancing 20-somethings. You think heroes still have an advantage over heroines?
(laughs) Actually we have made this into a cliché. If you see recent releases like Tumhari Sulu or Hichki or Raazi, things are changing for the better.
Jacqueline Fernandez's revamped version of 'Ek Do Teen' didn't go down well with people. How did you feel about it?
Well, nobody asked me anything, people just kept writing about it. Also, at that time I was out of the country. I haven’t seen Jacqueline’s version. But I would like to say that I love Jacqueline, she is a very sweet girl and I like her dance style. So when I will watch her version, I am sure that I will like it. I don’t mind remakes or remixes. It is like paying tribute to old songs and that also increases the longevity of a popular song. It is just that people have been watching my version of 'Ek Do Teen' for several years so there is a kind of attachment to it and they want certain songs and dance to remain untouched. But it is up to the makers. For Total Dhamaal, we have also done a remix of a song from Karz – ‘Paisa Ye Paisa’ which goes very well with our story because our story is about paisa and greed.
How is it reuniting with Anil Kapoor (for Total Dhamaal) after so many years?
We hardly work, you will always find us cracking jokes and laughing on sets. But of course, there is definitely a different kind of maturity in our interactions.
How do you manage time between judging dance reality show and shooting movies?
Planning is very important and I am from the generation that did three shifts at a time, so it is not new for me. But today I can’t do three shifts, it will be too much for me to handle.
You are called the ‘Dancing Diva’ and so was Sridevi but we haven’t seen any other actress reach that position...
This happens with each generation. Today, they say that we were better as compared to the current lot of actresses and during my time we were told that we were not as skilled and proficient in dance as Vyjayanthimala. Today techniques have changed, songs are edited at a rapid pace. Earlier they would pause on an actor’s face which doesn’t happen now and therefore people from the older generation feel it is not the same.
Why such a long gap post Gulab Gang (released in 2014)?
Sometimes you have to take a pause in life and prioritise things. At that time my children, my family came first. My children are growing up, they are approaching teens so they needed me. Once everything was settled, I pressed the play button but rewind will never happen (smiles).
How do your children react when they see you on screen?
They don’t think much about me, I am just their mom. But they find it very strange and funny when they see my movies. They get ticklish and make all sorts of faces and actions.
What's more on your bucket list?
I have acted in a Marathi movie, I am also producing one called 15 August which is a slice-of-life comedy. My bucket list keeps growing.
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