Critics panned her comeback vehicle Aaja Nachle as did audiences, but Madhuri Dixit is unconcerned and says she was never worried about a film's box office performance.
Excerpts from the interview:
You shouldered the entire film in your comeback vehicle... almost the hero. But heroine-centric films don't work.
There's no fear of failure in me. I'm just happy that something different has been attempted in my comeback film. There's no hero in the film. But I won't call myself the film's hero. I'm the female protagonist.
The role in Aaja
Nachle was written for you.
The thought made my legs shake, and not because I was dancing (laughs).<b1>
The Madhuri mania lives.
That was because I've worked with terrific directors and choreographers in good subjects. I remember when I met Aditya Chopra for the first time my first question to him was - do people still want to see me? He looked at me very strangely and said, 'Don't worry about that.' But I was really concerned.
Your old films are played all the time on television.
That's a blessing. That's why people haven't forgotten me.
And you get a vehicle in your new film where you dance non-stop.
It isn't just about dance but the entire theatre culture and dance is an integral part of it.
Did you keep your dancing going in the US?
No, where was the time? With two small kids it's very difficult. And I was pregnant half the time that I've been married. Out of the five years I was away I was pregnant and then looking after my kids. So after Devdas I hadn't danced at all.
And yet you slip so easily into the dances of Aaja
Can't help it. I don't know what it is. It just comes naturally to me. Earlier, I had many of my best dances choreographed by Saroj Khanji. And she was the boss. I just listened to her when she cracked the whip.
In Aaja Nachle I was working with Vaibhavi Merchant who's an ardent fan of mine. And she was quivering on the first day. I had to call Vaibhavi aside and warn her we could do no work if she was going to be so nervous of me. So, earlier Sarojji used to calm me down, this time I was calming my choreographer down. I was very impressed by her. We got along very well. <b2>
The whole cast is your fan.
The feeling is mutual. All my co-stars - Vinay Pathak, Kunal Kapoor, Konkona Sen Sharma and Irrfan Khan - are just wonderful actors. I had watched a bit of their work beforehand. The awe just fell off and we were soon laughing and having a ball. As Kunal said, 'Hey she thinks just like I do.'
In your heydays you were not very social? I remember you being very aloof on the sets of Devdas.
I was never antisocial. With time you change. I'm more relaxed maybe. As for Devdas, there were just the three of us. In fact, I only had Shah Rukh for company. But in Aaja Nachle there were so many actors shooting with me all the time. Such bright, inquisitive and talkative youngsters!
The film is about the erosion of our tradition and culture. As an NRI does that issue bother you?
Every time I come to Mumbai I find the city more westernised. There's no harm in that. But why not imbibe the best of foreign influences without losing our culture and tradition? Let's not forget who we are. In the US we see families more Indian than in India. But there's hope yet. Aaja Nachle addresses the question of tradition and modernity, but we aren't preaching over here.
Have you seen the recent films?
None at all. I've been too busy promoting my film.