It's hard to imagine Madhuri Dixit turning 52. There is a quality of ageless wonder about her persona which the years has not diminished and never mind Kalank. I remember how upset Madhuri was with me when I first met her. A mutual friend, director Prakash Jha, who was doing Mrityudand with her warned me that she was in a militant mood.
But within a few minutes, the ice melted. And Madhuri confessed, "I was upset about something you wrote about my 'Choli ke peeche' song," before rushing off to give a shot with Salman Khan and Aruna Irani for a terribly funny death scene. Funny, because the sobbing and whimpering junior artistes would burst into peals of laughter the minute the director shouted 'cut.'
That encounter with Madhuri Dixit remains memorable for a reason. After I had completed my interview with Madhuri in her makeup room, we discovered, to our embarrassment, that the door had been bolted from the outside.
After much shaking and rattling, someone outside finally heard us. Salman Khan was grinning from ear to ear. As Madhuri stormed towards her co-star to confront him, I drove away with a smile.
After her surprise marriage, I was one of the first to congratulate her. Madhuri never sounded happier. As she spoke about what the heart surgeon had done to her heart I couldn’t help wondering if she would make as successful a post-marriage career for herself as Sharmila Tagore.
In spite of her sizzling songs-and-dances, Madhuri’s career was never dictated by oomphy conventions of celluloid success. To audiences, she was always the consummate screen queen, the first among the equals who found her way into the cinema of the post-Sridevi generation.
Unfortunately, her selection of roles has always left much to be desired. Madhuri turned down Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s offer to play the deaf-and-mute Annie in Khamoshi: The Musical, because she wasn’t convinced by the character.
Presumably, she saw eye to eye with the women she played in Dil, Jamai Raja, Thanedaar, Khilaaf, Raja and the other pot (and blood) boilers she did in the prime of her career. Where’s that one Mughal-e-Azam in the neo-Madhubala's career? I think it’s on the way.
Rajkumar Santoshi’s Lajja and Pukar gave Madhuri a chance to dazzle alongside a gallery of other screen queens. But it was Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas which immortalised Madhuri. She was cast as the silent giver Chandramukhi, who nurtures, adores, loves and finally leaves Devdas, knowing all along that he loves another woman. Madhuri looked, dressed and danced like a dream.
Madhuri ne maar daala. She killed it. Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who has been Madhuri fan ever since he can remember, still can’t stop raving about her. What M F Husain couldn’t do for his muse in Gaja Gamini Sanjay Bhansali did for her in Devdas.
I remember how aloof Madhuri seemed on the sets of Devdas. While Aishwarya mingled, laughed and pranced around Madhuri sat alone. I remember going up to her with a polite smile to ask if I can sit next to her.
"Well no one else sitting there," she replied. I'd never know if that was snub or an invitation.