Madhuri Dixit: I want to leave a legacy
Madhuri Dixit Nene looks slimmer, a few shades fairer, and has a more flawless complexion now than she had in her heyday. Her smile, the 1000-watt one, is still the same — effervescent and warm. What is annoying though, are the number of people who insist on hanging around her. Excerpts from our conversation:
How do you stay so trim?
I watch what I put in my mouth. I work out regularly and practise kathak for an hour daily. It’s a great cardio exercise.
How has the second round been so far?
I don’t know why people call it the second round. I don’t think I had ever left. I did Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam (2002), Devdas (2002) and portions of Pukar (2000) after I got married. I was constantly travelling from the US to India. Later, I did Aaja Nachle (2007) and Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa (she first judged it in 2010).
You have started shooting Gulab Gang with Juhi Chawla, who you didn’t work with in round one.
Yes, it is wonderful. I have tremendous faith in her as an actor. It will be great fun.
What do you look for in a film now?
The film must have substance, my role must have meat. There has to be something that sets it apart from the routine. Gulab Gang and Dedh Ishqiya are good scripts.
One is constantly reading about the multiple business ventures that you are into. How much truth is there in it?
I’m looking forward to create something that outlives me. I’m not just Madhuri Dixit, the actress. I’m multi-talented and multifaceted. So, I want to leave a legacy that outlives my name. I want my business venture, whatever it may be, to be infused with my personal qualities like integrity and value for money.
We hear you are planning to produce and direct your own movies.
It is every actor’s dream to direct a movie one day. I’m looking forward to that, but it is not on the cards for the next five years. As for production, there are plans. Again, it is too early to reveal anything. We are slowly creating a base.
Was working in the movies different then?
When I was working in the 1990s, it was slightly haphazard. Today, it is so organised. When I’m on the set, everything is ready; I know the script and the look. An actor’s job is made so simple. I have to concentrate only on my performance. My mind is not running in a hundred different directions, because everything else has been taken care of. It is so wonderful.
Cinema today is exciting, isn’t it?
In the 90s, we either made commercial cinema or art cinema. There was a clear demarcation. Today, those lines are blurred. Even now, there is over-the-top commercial cinema that does well. But there is also an equal amount of cinema with the right sensibilities and that is truly interesting to watch and be a part of.
As for us actresses, this is liberating, because a woman in our films is no more a caricature. She is not taking revenge or getting bullied or crying. Today, she is an astronaut, a surgeon, a mother, daughter, a business head and is so much more believable. Our cinema has evolved. Women have different characters on the screen. Roles of substance are being written especially for us.
Sridevi and you were iconic in your time. Does it become all the more difficult for actresses like you to select scripts?
When you say ‘in your time’, it destroys the relevance. We are relevant even today. Talent is always alive, it doesn’t die. Look at English Vinglish. It was a wonderful film and Sri did it after a gap of 15 years. But that hardly mattered.
How involved is your husband in your career?
Ram (Madhuri married then US-based cardiovascular surgeon Dr Sriram Nene in 1999) has made me tech-savvy. Before he joined medicine, he was involved in the software business. He is helping me with my digital platform, etc.
Has his knowledge of Hindi cinema gone beyond Madhuri Dixit movies?
Ram knows global cinema. It is true that he got introduced to Bollywood mainly after our marriage. Now, he is getting more acquainted with the other aspects of Bollywood, too.
Have your sons settled down?
The boys (nine-year-old Arin and seven-year-old Ryan) are settling down. They love their school and that is half the battle won. They like being around people, but yes, they do miss the open spaces in Denver. They miss the parks there. Mumbai is too crowded.
Have you managed to strike a balance between home and work?
I have always managed to do that. Even when I was travelling to India from Denver, I would organise things well before I left. Now that both work and home are in Mumbai, it is much easier for me to strike the balance.