The wait for the most awaited comeback in Bollywood is soon to end. Aaja Nachle hits cinemas worldwide on Friday and Madhuri Dixit is all set to melt a million hearts with her million-dollar smile. In this exclusive interview, Devansh Patel speaks to the Indian film industry's ‘dhak dhak’ girl.
The 1988 film Tezaab's song Ek do teen brought you into the limelight and gave Bollywood it's biggest star. What is Aaja Nachle going to do next?
I don't know. I think people will have to tell me what the film is going to do. All I can say is that I've had fun working in this movie and it's been great. The kind of response I got from the people, the way they accepted me after five years all goes to show that I am back where I belong, in Bollywood.
How emotional are you feeling today while talking about Aaja Nachle?
It's a bit emotional, but yet exciting for me. There are butterflies in my stomach right now. You wonder how will people react to the film, what's going to happen next, will I be able to deliver the goods, etc. But so far the reaction has been good. People have loved the promos and we are keeping our fingers crossed.
When Aditya Chopra approached you with the script, did you instantly agree to do the film?
When Aditya came to meet me, he was very keen that I do the film because he had specially scripted it with me in mind. I asked him whether people still wanted to see me because it's been almost five years since I have been out of the industry. Then, when I read the script, I thought that I could draw some parallels to my life. Aaja Nachle is a fun film with music and dance. It's very realistic and contemporary, too.
Does that mean the film has an underlined message?
Yes, it does. New cultures from the west are always going to come in and influence our own culture. But, in spite of that, we should not forget our identity and tradition. You can invite new cultures in, but you must try and nourish your own–that is the message of the film.
How was your journey from Denver to India? Describe your first day in front of the camera.
My journey was a long one. It took me 22 hours to reach India and then it took me another two hours to get to Shamli, the make-believe town where we have shot the film. It was a wonderful journey. When I met the whole cast and crew, I stood in front of the camera to decide whether I should quit or not. But once the camera rolled, everything else just melted away.
Was it difficult to work with new comers like Kunal Kapoor, Konkana Sen, Ranvir Shorey and Vinay?
You know the funny thing is that it wasn't difficult at all. They are so sweet, they are so likeable, they are so bright and, at the end of the day, they are such good actors that it was fun working with them. Even though Kunal and a few others are not so experienced, they are so professional that you start wondering if you are actually working with a new bunch of actors. Even Ranvir and Vinay are so natural and have immense talent. There was a lot of life and energy in all the scenes we performed together.
You came, you acted and then you had to part. I mean, how was your last day of the shoot?
Don't remind me of that! We all got so emotional. I was fortunate to be a part of such a big family that it was difficult to leave the cast and the crew. We all had tears in our eyes, but thankfully no one cried.
So what is the secret behind your gorgeous figure and your energetic dance moves even after being a mother of two?
It is just my love for dancing and keeping myself fit, which I think is so important in today's time. In fact, my kids love dancing, too, and you will always find them shaking a leg or two at home.
Any memorable incident during the shoot of the film?
We had a sad scene where I was supposed to be crying because my guru was dying. At the same time, I was supposed to be watch something on a projector. The crew brought in these old projector reels that had Charlie Chaplin films. I think I must be the only person in the world who has cried while watching Charlie Chaplin on screen. That was a memorable scene because I had to look at the projector, ignore the fact that it was Chaplin, and cry.
Do you miss working with your yesteryear co-stars like Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan, etc?
Yes, I do miss working with them, but who knows, one day I might be signing a film opposite them if the script demands it. We will have to wait and watch.
How different is it working with your producer Yash Raj Films after a decade?
Yash Raj Films have always been very organised, but now I would say they are super organised–they are like 10 steps ahead of what they used to be. It's always a delight to work with them.
It's also funny that earlier I had always wanted to work with my director of Aaja Nachle, Anil Mehta, but in a different capacity. I wanted him as a cameraman for one of my projects, but it didn't happen. God had different plans in his mind and now here I am working with him. It's been a wonderful experience. Yashji has always kept high standards in filmmaking.
Can you tell us something about the character you play in this film?
The character I play is called Diya. She is extremely strong and very independent. She actually elopes with someone she falls in love with and leaves the village to try and make a life for herself in New York. Once there she realises the person she ran away with was not the same person she fell in love with. Somewhere along the way she realises that this was not what she had left home for.
She is a choreographer and a mother who makes a life for herself in an unknown country. When she has to come back to her village to see her dying guru, she faces many problems. People don't like her anymore and think that she has brought the western influence with her. How Diya tries to save something that is very close to her heart, something that she believes in, and how she stands by it and sees the whole mission through is what the movie is all about.
What was it like working with Anil Mehta?
It's been wonderful. I used to think I was the only patient person in the world and that I was very mellow, but when I worked with Anil I realised there is someone else who is much more patient than I am, much more calm, and that has helped me a lot. He has been a pillar to all the actors. He knew exactly what he wanted, what the shot was going to be and never hesitated in letting us experiment.
How do you prioritise your personal and professional life?
I have my priorities right. My kids are my first concern. Even when I was working I made sure they were comfortable. So I didn't have to worry about anything once I got to the sets. Yashji was very sweet, too. He made a play area in case they came on the sets so that they could go and play while I was shooting. Their grandparents were there, too. My mother in-law came in for sometime. My husband came twice to be with the kids for a good 10 to 15 days. I could shoot without any tension because I had all this support. I think my kids enjoyed themselves–getting pampered, meeting my cousins who have kids of their age, socialising, watching movies and having fun. It’s been a great learning experience for my kids as they have opened up and learnt different languages, too.
Any parting message for your fans?
Here's wishing all my fans a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Thank you for all your lovely letters. It's very touching. And keep watching my films as we make them with a lot of heart and sweat. I love you all.