Madhuri Dixit-Nene: The Journey

INDIAN CINEMA: Though Madhuri made her foray into Bollywood with 1984’s Abodh, she went pretty much unnoticed until 1988’s Tezaab happened. But after her scintillating performance in the “Ek Do Teen song,” Madhuri had truly arrived.

Madhuri Dixit is a star like none other. She may be 52 but her radiance and smile remain intact, charming millions of her fans and winning young ones with each passing day. Her recent film Kalank may have tanked at the box office but no one can dispute her statuesque presence in it.

With a career spanning more than 35 years, it takes character and personality to stay relevant in the hearts and minds of fans, who can shift loyalties rather soon. Songs from her films like Hum Aapke Haun Koun! still play on radio sets, perhaps a little more with people coming from smaller towns.

When Madhuri Dixit-Nene made India go berserk

While Tezaab went on to win its own share of laurels, it was Madhuri’s dance sequence that made the film a rage amongst the masses. As director N Chandra himself accepts, the whole nation went berserk dancing to Madhuri’s tunes. In fact, a Filmfare category was made that year itself and choreographer Saroj Khan won the first ever Filmfare for the song.

In an interview to Mumbai Mirror, Madhuri Dixit-Nene herself acknowledged the milestone and said, “The Ek Do Teen song turned the tables for me. Every producer wanted me to do a dance number in his or her film. We were shooting a song for Tridev. Sonam was a bigger star and so, she was made to stand in the centre. But as soon as Ek Do Teen became a hit, the producer changed our positions. I was in the centre.”

There was no looking back for Madhuri post that. She continued to dance her way into our hearts, sending fans into a frenzy with each big release. While Indra Kumar’s Beta (1992) saw her rocking the house with “Dhak Dhak,” the “Choli Ke Peeche” number from the 1993 blockbuster Khalnayak saw her at her sultry best. Even though the controversial song had all kinds of raunchy undertones, it was the virtuosity of Madhuri that she was able to add her signature grace to that song too.

With 1994’s “Chane Ke Khet Mein,” Madhuri Dixit gave Bollywood another one of those numbers that made every 90s kid stand in front of their TV sets trying to duplicate her hook steps. In the song, she is sheepish yet mischievous and that is just one of those anomalies that only a prolific dancer like Madhuri can embody.

That same year, she upped her game once again in “Didi Tera Dewar Deewana” from Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! which went on to become THE wedding song of the decade.

In fact, the 90s was a time when Madhuri’s dance numbers were reason enough for cinephiles to flock in hordes to the theatres. Such is the case with 1995’s Yaraana which was a rather dull affair but was elevated manifold by Madhuri’s “Mera Piya Ghar Aaya” sequence. Madhuri made sure to bring something unique to the table with every one of her performances. A visible proof of the fact is her drool-worthy moonwalk in Pukar’s “Kay Sera Sera” (2000) which gave a number of her contemporaries a run for their money and broke the prejudice that Madhuri could only nail the traditional Bollywood style dancing.

In 2002, we saw Madhuri Dixit matching steps with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in what could be called the biggest dancing collaboration of the decade, “Dola Re Dola” from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas. And even though she played a courtesan with titillating moves in songs like “Maar Daala” and “Kaahe Ched,” she did it with pure aplomb.

Madhuri is one of those stars who is equally gifted in her craft as she is in her dancing skills. She does most of the talking with her eyes and is able to convey almost all her emotions with her expressions. Something that even accomplished dancers struggle to come to terms with. Be it a coyish ‘devarani,’ a scintillating courtesan, an undercover agent, a nightclub dancer or just an indulgent lover, Madhuri’s dance performances always embody the character she is portraying. This is why we never see only Madhuri the actor performing, but rather the Mohinis, the Chandramukhis and the Nishas dancing their hearts out.

Listen to our Madhuri Dixit-Nene playlist on Spotify!

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