How To Be A Mohini!- Pointers from Madhuri Dixit Nene

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‘Madhuri Dixit’ – the name has been synonymous with all things graceful and beautiful. Today she shares some ‘trade secrets’ with Shubarna Mukerji Shu.

How many times does it happen that you enter a room and all eyes are on just one person?

Very often, if you are moving in the same circles as Madhuri Dixit-Nene! It has been long established that she is pretty, possesses the most winsome smile and stunning grace that often leaves men sighing and women jealous; yet, after all these years, she manages to surprise you, simply with her simplicity…

Don’t you tire with all the constant praise and awe that you garner wherever you go?

Home is my reality check! But, all said and done, it is always nice to hear compliments; it is one of the perks of this profession. I might have taken a break for a while to concentrate on my family, and today a lot has changed, but inside the industry it is still the same. So there are no surprises there and certainly nothing awkward about praise…

DEDH ISHQIYA… would you have done this film in the ’90s?

A good script is something that an actor always loves. At any time, that’s all we are looking for. DEDH… is beautifully written. When I read the script I hadn’t seen Abhishek Chaubey. I was really surprised when I actually met him – I couldn’t imagine a pony-tailed man with all the fuzz and well-worn jeans could write something so rustic… There are so many nuances in this film that are handled so maturely; that is commendable. Not just the relationship between Naseer Sa’ab (Naseeruddin Shah) and me, though that too is handled beautifully, but also Huma (Qureshi) and me. There has never been a film wherein two actresses have been pitched as friends – she is my accomplice, partner in crime and everything, she is the quintessential ‘sakhi’. In most other films, two actresses are either pitted against each other or share no scenes at all…

You bet, the times have changed! For one, everyone is once again looking back at rural India for stories. The women are getting far bolder. In fact, for someone who has worked through the ’90s till today, you have been party to many evolutions…

Yes, times have changed. I don’t know if there would have been a DEDH… or a GULAAB GANG getting commercial recognition earlier. Now, that is not to say that there were no strong women-oriented films being made earlier. Of course there were many – in fact, I have had the chance to star in a few but there is very obviously a shift in characterisation between then and now. Then, everything needed a reason… if a girl is a prostitute in all probability she was destitute or was forced into it. If she takes up arms she had to have been badly manhandled or something and has done so for revenge and so on. Women today don’t have to be apologetic about who they are. Everyone is accepted, no questions asked. It is far more liberating… we still have a long way to go, of course, but this is a good beginning.

Talking about emancipation of women characters, finally we are opening our mind towards the physical needs of a woman…

The audience has been really open-minded, that’s for sure. Though, I don’t think we are still very comfortable with a good woman lusting. But, like I said, we are growing, we are changing and therein lies the solution – the fact that we are willing to relearn.

We established that women today are bolder, and characters are written in a rather unapologetic way but there aren’t many actresses who have been able to walk that thin line between sensuality and sexuality. On the other hand, you, in all your glory, certainly can write a book on how to tread that thin line…

Please! Though you are right – it truly is a very thin line and it must be tread with care. It is not something that one can be taught as if it were a craft; it is rather innate. I believe it comes to me over the many years of dancing. Your body develops grace, poise and your face is tuned with the finer nuances than enhance the expressions. Like I said, it is not something that can be summed up in a book, for sure. A lot of times girls are made to dress in a particular way, as a means to make them look sensual. That’s where people go wrong. Sensuality is not how you move your body; it is how you use your face. So, while one can wear revealing clothes and all that to be a part of the character, to put your point across onscreen you must forget what you are wearing and concentrate on emoting via your face. That is something dance has taught me.

Given the grace with which you carry yourself, it is tough to envision you as skittish or blasé, how do you manage to look convincing onscreen when a scene requires you to do that?

I had a tough time with TEZAAB. I remember that scene when Mohini is captured and Munna comes to rescue her and she loses it. She gets all hysterical and starts screaming, I just could not do it. I kept telling the director that I was clueless about how to shout and scream, that I’d never done that… He just walked up to me and showed me how to do it. I just copied him then, and over the years have managed to do it somehow. Yet, I don’t know how I do it… I had to dress as an old woman in RAJA, it was so not me and so hilarious thinking of doing it but I managed. I guess that’s the job of an actress, you have got to play characters who are far removed from your own person. It is awesome.

So nothing scares you as an actor? Even acting alongside Naseeruddin Shah or playing some whacked out characters…

Yes, I admit for my first scene with Naseer Sa’ab, somewhere at the back of my mind, I was like, I need to nail this… It is just the repertoire he comes with that makes you think like that but really, post the first scene, I relaxed and the thought just flew out of the window. He is a wonderful actor and a friendly person so that completely took care of it all. As far as the characters I have had to play are concerned, my only concern is that no matter what I do, I shouldn’t look vulgar. I would hate to not be able to look into the eye of all my characters. I need to give them that respect, need to make sure that they are understood and accepted.

With that gorgeous face, it is certainly not an insurmountable feat, is it? At 46, people are still completely enamoured by you…

That is just because there are so many who love me. As a professional of course, I try my level best to look presentable but then that is not too much of a task because I do not have any bad habits. I don’t smoke, drink or anything. I watch what I eat and dance a lot. I guess doing something that makes you happy, takes care of that ‘glow’ factor.

This article first appeared in January 2014 issue of Cine Blitz magazine

How To Be A Mohini!- Pointers from Madhuri Dixit Nene

Liveinstyle

‘Madhuri Dixit’ – the name has been synonymous with all things graceful and beautiful. Today she shares some ‘trade secrets’ with Shubarna Mukerji Shu.

How many times does it happen that you enter a room and all eyes are on just one person?

Very often, if you are moving in the same circles as Madhuri Dixit-Nene! It has been long established that she is pretty, possesses the most winsome smile and stunning grace that often leaves men sighing and women jealous; yet, after all these years, she manages to surprise you, simply with her simplicity…

Don’t you tire with all the constant praise and awe that you garner wherever you go?

Home is my reality check! But, all said and done, it is always nice to hear compliments; it is one of the perks of this profession. I might have taken a break for a while to concentrate on my family, and today a lot has changed, but inside the industry it is still the same. So there are no surprises there and certainly nothing awkward about praise…

DEDH ISHQIYA… would you have done this film in the ’90s?

A good script is something that an actor always loves. At any time, that’s all we are looking for. DEDH… is beautifully written. When I read the script I hadn’t seen Abhishek Chaubey. I was really surprised when I actually met him – I couldn’t imagine a pony-tailed man with all the fuzz and well-worn jeans could write something so rustic… There are so many nuances in this film that are handled so maturely; that is commendable. Not just the relationship between Naseer Sa’ab (Naseeruddin Shah) and me, though that too is handled beautifully, but also Huma (Qureshi) and me. There has never been a film wherein two actresses have been pitched as friends – she is my accomplice, partner in crime and everything, she is the quintessential ‘sakhi’. In most other films, two actresses are either pitted against each other or share no scenes at all…

You bet, the times have changed! For one, everyone is once again looking back at rural India for stories. The women are getting far bolder. In fact, for someone who has worked through the ’90s till today, you have been party to many evolutions…

Yes, times have changed. I don’t know if there would have been a DEDH… or a GULAAB GANG getting commercial recognition earlier. Now, that is not to say that there were no strong women-oriented films being made earlier. Of course there were many – in fact, I have had the chance to star in a few but there is very obviously a shift in characterisation between then and now. Then, everything needed a reason… if a girl is a prostitute in all probability she was destitute or was forced into it. If she takes up arms she had to have been badly manhandled or something and has done so for revenge and so on. Women today don’t have to be apologetic about who they are. Everyone is accepted, no questions asked. It is far more liberating… we still have a long way to go, of course, but this is a good beginning.

Talking about emancipation of women characters, finally we are opening our mind towards the physical needs of a woman…

The audience has been really open-minded, that’s for sure. Though, I don’t think we are still very comfortable with a good woman lusting. But, like I said, we are growing, we are changing and therein lies the solution – the fact that we are willing to relearn.

We established that women today are bolder, and characters are written in a rather unapologetic way but there aren’t many actresses who have been able to walk that thin line between sensuality and sexuality. On the other hand, you, in all your glory, certainly can write a book on how to tread that thin line…

Please! Though you are right – it truly is a very thin line and it must be tread with care. It is not something that one can be taught as if it were a craft; it is rather innate. I believe it comes to me over the many years of dancing. Your body develops grace, poise and your face is tuned with the finer nuances than enhance the expressions. Like I said, it is not something that can be summed up in a book, for sure. A lot of times girls are made to dress in a particular way, as a means to make them look sensual. That’s where people go wrong. Sensuality is not how you move your body; it is how you use your face. So, while one can wear revealing clothes and all that to be a part of the character, to put your point across onscreen you must forget what you are wearing and concentrate on emoting via your face. That is something dance has taught me.

Given the grace with which you carry yourself, it is tough to envision you as skittish or blasé, how do you manage to look convincing onscreen when a scene requires you to do that?

I had a tough time with TEZAAB. I remember that scene when Mohini is captured and Munna comes to rescue her and she loses it. She gets all hysterical and starts screaming, I just could not do it. I kept telling the director that I was clueless about how to shout and scream, that I’d never done that… He just walked up to me and showed me how to do it. I just copied him then, and over the years have managed to do it somehow. Yet, I don’t know how I do it… I had to dress as an old woman in RAJA, it was so not me and so hilarious thinking of doing it but I managed. I guess that’s the job of an actress, you have got to play characters who are far removed from your own person. It is awesome.

So nothing scares you as an actor? Even acting alongside Naseeruddin Shah or playing some whacked out characters…

Yes, I admit for my first scene with Naseer Sa’ab, somewhere at the back of my mind, I was like, I need to nail this… It is just the repertoire he comes with that makes you think like that but really, post the first scene, I relaxed and the thought just flew out of the window. He is a wonderful actor and a friendly person so that completely took care of it all. As far as the characters I have had to play are concerned, my only concern is that no matter what I do, I shouldn’t look vulgar. I would hate to not be able to look into the eye of all my characters. I need to give them that respect, need to make sure that they are understood and accepted.

With that gorgeous face, it is certainly not an insurmountable feat, is it? At 46, people are still completely enamoured by you…

That is just because there are so many who love me. As a professional of course, I try my level best to look presentable but then that is not too much of a task because I do not have any bad habits. I don’t smoke, drink or anything. I watch what I eat and dance a lot. I guess doing something that makes you happy, takes care of that ‘glow’ factor.

This article first appeared in January 2014 issue of Cine Blitz magazine

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