Depending on where you are in the world, today or tomorrow marks the release of the comeback film for one of Bollywood’s most popular actresses, Madhuri Dixit. Aaja Nachle is the story of Madhuri’s character Dia, who is a dancer in New York. She returns to her hometown in India, after being away for years, because her guru is dying. While there she sets out to re-establish the school where she learned her art. She pulls together a rag tag group of people to put on a show to save the school from demolition and to bring dance back into the town. According to the official website, “She must create in this chaos in order to save Ajanta… in order to preserve what her guru so lovingly nurtured. She must create art in order to preserve what she believes is the soul of society.” Aaja Nachle is one of the most highly anticipated films this year and recently Madhuri talked about coming back to work, her co-stars and of course about the film itself.
Surprisingly when Aditya Chopra approached Madhuri about the role in Aaja Nachle she was unsure audiences would accept her again. “I asked Adi (Aditya Chopra) whether people would be ready to see me again and Adi just laughed,” Madhuri said.
“But when I came here the way my friends in the industry and fans responded was heart warming. The best compliment I have received so far is ‘It feels you never went away and now that you’ve returned don’t ever go back’,” she added.
Madhuri does not like to call it a comeback film: “Comeback is a very strong word. But considering the years I have been away. My last film was in 2002 (Devdas). It must make people think that Madhuri Dixit is coming back to town after being away in the US all this while. In that sense it is like coming back. But for me, it was like… I was never away. Yes, there were butterflies in the stomach on the first day of shooting but once the camera came on, it all just flowed.”
About that first day of shooting Madhuri said, “I was really nervous when I faced the camera for the first time after such a long gap. My heart was racing and I feared that I will forget the dialogues, Thankfully nothing of this sort happened and once the camera rolled every hesitations and fear of mine just melted.”
She says that it was the script that convinced that this was the perfect film for her. “ First of all, the script attracted me. It’s very nice, written in a very realistic kind of way. It’s about theatre yet it’s very contemporary because that’s what is happening in society today. You are imbibing a new culture but you are forgetting your own roots, your own identity. The film makes a comment on that. And there are parallels with my life. I can identify with this girl coming from New York and how she takes up this mission. And, of course, there’s dance.”
As might be expected with the gap in between films, Bollywood and the process of making films has changed. “Everything has changed so much nowadays. Everything is so disciplined, the shooting is so streamlined,” she said. Adding, “It’s very different because it is so professional now. Of course, with Yashji (Chopra) it was always professional. The greatest change that I see is sync-sound. I don’t have to dub for the movie again. It’s all on location. And I remember how we used to cry earlier in dubbing studios — why can’t we do this in one go? Sometimes it used to get very difficult to recreate the magic that you have already shot for. Here now you don’t have to do that. Also, today you have all the equipment in the world. Earlier it used to take one hour to put a trolley, now it’s like this (a snap of the fingers).”
The film co-stars Konkona Sen Sharma, Kunal Kapoor and Vinay Pathak among others and about these wonderful actors she said, “They are bright, they are raring to go, very good actors all of them. They are very easy going… wonderful to talk to… very aware of everything. I had seen Konkona’s work before… Mr and Mrs Iyer and Page 3… Also, Vinay Pathak in Bheja Fry.”
Madhuri also talked about how she missed being a part of the film industry, “I missed my craft. I missed the film sets, acting, dancing and everything related to the films, except the limelight.”
Finally, to Madhuri making films is not about box-office numbers “I have never been a part of the numbers game. We are not racing horses, who should be numbered. Either the work you do is good or bad,” Madhuri.
Adding, “This film is really close to my heart as it imparts a very important message apart from being an out an out entertainer. I couldn’t have got a much better role than this one. I hope people will like the film as everybody has poured their hearts into it.”