Three years after she returned to Mumbai from Denver (she had moved there after marrying Dr Sriram Nene in 1999), Madhuri Dixit-Nene is back on the big screen.
She’s just had one release, Dedh Ishqiya, and her next releases in March.
With these two female-centric films under her belt, Madhuri talks to us about issues pertaining to Indian women and what it’s like being a married actress in Bollywood.
Are you making a conscious attempt to do women-centric films? What is your take on their current status in society?
It isn’t as if things weren’t happening earlier, but nowadays, people are more aware of what’s going on around them. Newspapers and TV channels are reporting such stuff regularly. My new film too fights for women and to change the society’s point of view towards them.
Where do you think the problem lies?
Women need to be empowered through the strongest tool — education. They don’t need to be subservient to anyone, but at the same time, men must change their mindset towards women. If they are more respectful towards them, then things will change at the grassroots level. It will happen slowly, but everyone has to move together. Self-defence classes are also vital for girls. With those, they can protect themselves without getting hurt.
Do you see a change in Bollywood for female actors?
Things are definitely changing. From the start, I’ve been lucky to have got films like Dil (1990), Beta (1992), Mrityudand (2000) and even Lajja (2001), where the women’s parts were equally strong. I feel that participation of women is the way forward in Indian cinema.
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What makes you think so?
Today, it’s heartening to see female make-up artistes, assistant directors and even directors. It’s great to see that we aren’t just actors in our film set-up. In terms of roles too, our cinema has come a long way, and that’s why women are not just eye candy in the films. New directors have come in with fresh sensibilities.
You have worked with Juhi Chawla at a time when people are talking about rivalry between you and your contemporaries?
It’s very inspiring to see them around. But I must say that all the rivalry talk is utter rubbish (smiles). If I wasn’t comfortable with Juhi, would I have let makers cast her in the first place? I have worked with Preity (Zinta), Aishwarya (Rai Bachchan), and Karisma (Kapoor), among others, but I have always been secure in my own space.
READ: JUHI CHAWLA ON WORKING WITH MADHURI
Do you think married actresses are getting more opportunties now?
I have always believed that the thought — ‘married actresses won’t be accepted’ — is a big myth. Meena Kumariji worked after she was married. Then, there was Sharmilaji (Sharmila Tagore) and Rakhiji. It all boils down to your personal choice — whether you want to relax or work post-marriage.
Were you always confident of Dedh Ishqiya’s success?
It’s hard to predict how a film will fare at the box office. The film has a director and producer, who have a history of making great films. Plus, the script was good. And Dedh Ishqiya is not a true sequel. It has a completely new storyline.
READ: DEDH ISHQIYA REVIEW