Dedh Ishkiya received her rave reviews and now Madhuri Dixit is looking forward to her next Gulab Gang where she plays the crusader for women. It's a film where she will be seen doing some real action. In a candid tete a tete with indiaglitz the actress talks about her film and her journey in the industry for nearly three decades and what keeps her going.
What were the challenges you faced during the shoot of Gulab Gang
Lots of action scenes in the movie. There was sweat blood and bruises but I enjoyed it has done complete justice to the film
What was the best compliment that you got for Dedh Ishqiya
One person forgot my name and called me Begum Para. He kept saying Begum Para does this and that. He is a good friend and he forgot my name that was the biggest compliment.
You have performed the role of a strong woman in films like Lajja and Mrityudand how different is Gulab Gang
In Lajja and Mrityudand she is a victim and she takes a stand. Here she is a crusader. She helps other people and she is empowered. She knows who she is. She believes in social things and wants to correct that. She is helping other women generally in society. She wants to correct all the wrong doing. She helps other women and believes in them. In India when a boy is born he is sent to school and educated while girls are not. Men should be educated to respect women; they look at women like objects.
Do you see any change in the film industry as far as women are concerned
A lot of changes have taken place. Earlier there were few actresses and hair dressers, girls never ventured into the makeup department. There were few women directors too. We had make-up dada's but now you see women in all fields of filmmaking. There women writers, directors, cinematographers, a lot of girls are working in different departments of filmmaking. You see women on the sets. Roles have changed and it's heartening to see women going places.
Did you have to struggle to achieve the position you are in today
Fortunatley I never had to struggle to become an actress. Abodh came walking into my way. Some one came with the proposal for the film because they knew that I dance well. My family was not into films so we didn't know anything about it so it was a complete no for us. he film was being made by the Barjatya's and we were told that they are good people. We went to their office and met them and found them to be genuine. For me it was a different journey. The struggle was to prove myself every time to do the best every time.
Will we ever see you doing a negative role
It depends what kind of negative role it is. I want to do a Begum Para, a Rajjo and all types of roles. I am not averse to any role. I would love to do different roles and characters and if something good and unusual comes my way I will definitely do it
What were your references for the role
All women in the world doing something for other women and even risk their lives for them. Rajjo represents all these women. It's a salute to all these women or you could say that it's an Ode to all these women. Rajjo is fantastically portrayed in the movie. She is a larger than life character because it's a movie. There are women who are larger than life in real also.
In this fake world of glamour, you seem so real. Stardom hasn't affected you, what keeps you grounded
Thank you, a lot of credit for this goes to my parents who taught me what I am today, Before my marriage My mom stood strong besides me throughout my ups and downs. She always had encouraging words for me as she had faith in me. After my marriage my mother in law and father in law are strong people who are standing by me the same kind of people who think on the same lines as my parents. She is also a professional woman, a real estate agent and her daughter is also a corporate lawyer. She encourages me and holds court for me when I am on the sets. She looks after my house and kids when I am busy working. I have been lucky to have been surrounded by strong level headed and minded women who have kept me grounded. My people have never treated me as a star. The moment I would walk into the house my mother would scold me "why have you kept your room unclean. Go put your things in place and keep it clean." I always had a reality check at home. I am an actress and have fans who adore me but at home I am a mother, a daughter and a wife and so many other things.
Did you feel the pinch when you had to leave your career for someone to take over at the peak of your stardom
No it never crossed my mind. I never wanted to be an actress but became one. Everyone dreams for themselves. Once I became an actress I wanted to do the best, dance the best and act the best on a professional level. At the same time on a personal level I wanted to have a family, a home and kids those were the dreams that I nursed. We were four siblings and I love kids. I got married and had two kids. I made a home in Denver. Even during the peak of my professional career I was never in the limelight. It was just home and work for me. I never liked to party and that was a baggage I always carried along with me. Even in Denver raising my kids was a dream.
Do you think heroines have a short span of stardom whereas heroes go on
I have been here for 25 years and I think that answers your question. Many women decide to quit after marriage and it is their personal choice but there's still a myth that women do not continue their profession after marriage. Actresses like Sharmila Tagore, Meena Kumar, Nutan, Tanuja, worked even after marriage. Age is just a number and talent can never die.
Speaking about women empowerment, like your character Rajjo in Gulab Gang are you propagating girl child education
I have plans and will reveal all at the right time. I am working towards it in a different way at the moment through my dance academy. I am teaching dance; girls can just log in on line and learn dance and it's for every age group. I believe I am imparting some kind of education be it just dance which is the first step of education.
What do you miss about Denver here I miss the beautiful roads and parks here.
We had lot of open spaces there. Mumbai infrastructure is bad. My children love it here. My family and relatives are based here so they come and meet. My children can go and play anytime. They love their school. They miss the parks here but you have to find our own paradise through clubs.
Soumik Sen said he signed you first and wrote the script later? He said if you had refused the film he wouldn't have done it
He came to me when he had an idea; he narrated the script to me. I am glad he came to me. I have played strong women characters in films like Beta earlier and he felt that I was the right choice. They usually come up with strong ideas and then do the casting. Sometimes they keep an actor in mind when they write a story. The film has been mounted well and Juhi has a strong role.
Who are your friends in the industry? So many years have passed by have you made any friends
I am not friends with anyone. I didn't have time to make friends as I was busy shooting three shifts a day but the time I decided to take Sunday's off it was in 1994. But then if I had an outdoor shoot I had to go. After that I got married. But I respect whoever I worked with. When I meet Mithun Chakraborty, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan or Jackie Shroff I have respect and fondness for them.
Do you feel the pressure of the 100 crore club and the size zero figure now
No I don't. I think things are more organized now. People are more paying, actors are also groomed. We learnt as we worked. They are confident which is wonderful and are prepared. There is pressure in the sense they have to deliver the best.
Is competition bitter It's not bitter.
I think competition is a harsh word. Everyone is doing their best and it's a creative field; and they are trying to create a niche for themselves. In this industry no one can dominate you. You can't have a same person working. You have to have competition. Meena Kumari, Madhubala, Mala Sinha or Nargis working sided by side and shining at the same time.
Who do you think can dance like you, do you see yourself in others
I don't find myself in others; they should have their own personality. I like all the actresses and they all dance well, there's Deepika Padukone in the 'nagada song', Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma. I like Parineeti Chopra she is very talented and so is Vidya Balan and Rani Mukhjerjee. There is so much talent.
We heard you are singing in Gulab Gang. Do you plan to take up playback singing
Like my acting career, singing too happened accidentally. Soumik plays the guitar and when he was playing on the sets I hummed a song. He like my voice and coerced me to sing a few lines. The song has turned out good and I hope everybody likes it. I don't know if I will take up singing professionally.
Any unfulfilled dream of yours
Fortunately I have got everything I dreamt of and I am thankful to God for that. I want to see my academy grow.
Are you planning to produce Marathi films
I haven't seen any recent Marathi films. I have seen a few like Natrang, Jogwa and Harischandrachi Factory and it was nice. They are making good films but I have not thought about it as yet. Don't know about the future.
How was the bonding with Juhi onscreen and offscreen
Juhi and I had never met before nor worked before. We never got a chance but I am glad that we didn't work together earlier or else we wouldn't have got this film together. She is a great down to earth person and a vey chilled out woman.
Any other actress you would like to work with
Juhi is one of the actresses I wanted to work with. I have no other actress on mind now. It all depends on the script.
You also performed with Shah Rukh Khan in Malaysia
I had a great time working with Shah Rukh Khan. He recently got his leg injured but still he has so much strength in him. I don't know from where he gets the strength and energy. He is always on fire and goes all out to be the best for his fans. He is very passionate and dedicated about his work even today
What do you think of Salman Khan? Will we see you doing films with them
I liked Salman in his earlier films like Saajan, Andaz Apna Apna, Hum Apke Hai Koun! I see a completely different Salman now. Earlier, he was very mischievous but today he is more relaxed and wants to do good work. I find he is a lot more committed. When you see him doing a character of Chulbul Pandey, there is a different maturity that he brings into it. I love his dancing too. Earlier, he would just dance but now he has got his own style and a swagger, which is really wonderful. I would like to do a masala entertainer with him if I am offered a film.
I have a long way to go.