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DECKED IN A ROYAL BLUE Manish Malhotra Anarkali outfit, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, arguably the best complete actress of this generation, spared some time for us before making getting on the sets of the reality show Comedy Nights with Kapil. Despite years spent away from the industry, Madhuri remains almost the same – dazzling smile and dignity intact. Her return to Bollywood has been eventful to say the least – innumerable shows, a stunning item number in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and a concert in Dubai that left us all even more star-struck than we were before. Mother, actress, dancer and all-round star, Mrs Dixit-Nene sparkles in a chat with Masala!.
What was the Temptation Reloaded concert in Dubai like?
One word that describes it all is ‘wonderful’. I had a wonderful experience. The show was called Temptation Reloaded; it was specifically named Access-All Areas in Dubai. Prior to AAA, I did shows with Shah Rukh in Australia and New Zealand and I had a great time with him as we share a very good rapport and I’m very comfortable with Shah Rukh.This was the first time I spoke to Jacqueline Fernandez. We haven’t worked together before but she is a sweet girl. She would always be on time for the rehearsals and she is definitely hard working. And what do I say about Deepika… she is one heck of a dedicated girl and a smart and a warm person.
What has 2013 been like for you and what do you expect from 2014?
I have literally been on my toes all of 2013. Right from the shooting of Dedh Ishqiya to Gulab Gang and judging the dance show Jhalak Dikhlaa Jaa, I was occupied with work so I cannot complain about 2013. It has been an adventurous year -- I had fun doing Jhalak…, went completely gung ho about Gulab Gang and now all the movies that I was shooting for are releasing in 2014. So I am thrilled, excited and happy. I am hoping that this year will also be great.
Tell us more about Begum Para and what attracted you to this role?
The thing I liked most about the role is that Begum Para is a multilayered character; she is a mysterious woman. Begum Para’s true nature is only revealed at the end of the film.
Were there any memorable incidents to report during Dedh Ishqiya?
Every drive from Lucknow to Mehmoodabad was a scary one. It was like going on a camel walk. The roads were very kachcha… and oh, we spent crazy hours shooting at night. At one point, I felt like I was shooting for a horror movie. The area was pitch-dark with no lights. I think that was the scariest moment... of course when we saw the haveli we fell in love with it but shooting after sunset was still scary.
Have you seen Ishqiya? What was it like to work with director Abhishek Chaubey?
Yes, I have seen it and was very impressed with Abhishek’s work. When they approached me for the sequel, I wanted to hear it because I was so impressed with Ishqiya and all the characterisations. Babban, Khalu and Vidya’s character were terrific in the movie. And I think the way Abhishek and Vishal write women’s roles is extremely unique. There’s a lot for the heroine to do in the film and the heroines play very important roles in the movies.
You are considered the epitome of beauty expression and grace. Have you ever thought of ensuring or trade-marking your smile?
(Giggling and blushing) I mean, I am not the one responsible for my smile. It’s my mom and dad and what I inherited from them is what you see. So I cannot and must not take credit for that!
Did you ever expect the dance number Ghagra from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani to be such a hit?
We can only hope that our work is appreciated and cannot always predict whether what we do will be a popular or will become a hit. I enjoyed doing the song and loved being on the set and dancing with Ranbir and am really glad that people liked it.
We can safely say that even today, you give the younger lot of actresses a run for their money...
That’s sweet to say but what I want to concentrate on is basically doing good roles, working with a good script and exploring different characters that I can play as a woman. The younger actresses are hard-working. I don’t see myself as competition to them. They are striving hard to achieve their best and I wish them luck.
How do you feel about changing the notion that actresses post 40 are not bankable?
I have always said that age is just a number; it is just in your mind. I feel I am still the same person I was when I did Tezaab or Dil Toh Pagal Hai.
From shooting for ad films and movies to judging a dance show and being a busy mom, how do you find time for your kids?
Well, my priorities are very clear. My kids and my family come first so my work is managed around my priority – my family!
How supportive your family has been in this journey?
I believe without the support of my family... whether it is my mother-in-law, or my mom, I would just not be capable of doing everything that I am doing. Life is a balancing act and my family’s support has been my biggest strength in balancing work and my personal life. They make sure that everything is taken care of and that I don’t need to worry about anything. It is a wonderful feeling to have that kind of backing and I hope every woman gets a family as supportive as mine. It frees you up a lot to do something you want to do and allows you to think beyond kids and family, which helps in being creative.
You were a full-time mom back in the US and now you are a mom-cum-actress. Has this reality sunk in with your kids? Are they used to seeing you on TV?
Last night, my son was going around the house saying, ‘Yay, my mum’s name is Madhuri Dixit-Nene... and she is a judge on Jhalak… and she is an actress and she does ad films and she does this and she does that’... rattling it off (laughs). The other day, somebody from school must have said, ‘Oh you are so lucky you have an actress as your mom... Madhuri Dixit...’ And my sons had come home saying, ‘This is what my classmate said mom but you’re still our mom, na?’ And I assured them that I was. I said, ‘I am your mom first then everything else’. Earlier, it would give them a kick to see me on Jhalak Dikhlaa Jaa, now they are immune to my on-screen charms!
Your husband, Dr Sriram Nene, complimented you when he saw the first look and trailer of Dedh Ishqiya. What does that feel like?
It feels extremely good. You know they say people at home are your biggest critics and yes, you want to impress them first before you impress others and I was glad he liked it. He always supports me, which is wonderful, because without that I don’t think I would be able to do what I am doing right now professionally.