Saturday, December 15, 2007

Madhuri's Day out

I haven't still given up on Bollywood movies. I still go out to see the odd Dhooms and Swadeses. Although i see Bollywood movies few and far (in the theater i mean), last weekend was special. Both me and my wife are Madhuri Dixit fans. We belong to a generation that has seen Madam Dixit in her prime; when she had a spell over the masses and to some extent the classes. (Although the snooty classes won't agree to liking the Ghati, Dadar babe)

Point is she was the reigning queen of bollywood who royally displaced Sridevi from the pedestal and held her own against so called competition for quite a while. This was long before Manish-Malhotra-Ritu-Beri tailor-made cosmetic and plastic model-actresses, became a bollywood norm. Madhuri ruled Bollywood when Bollywood was still an un-professional messy self (Some will argue it still is).

It is ironical that even though i claim to be a Madhuri fan i actually disliked two of her greatest hits - "Hum aapke..." and "Dil to pagal hai". In fact i could not sit through both these movies. "Hum aapke.." i saw only 10 years too late.

So i am not sure what Madhuri movie really struck the chord for me. I will leave it for later and not bother figuring out now. I am not a great fan of dancer-actresses either. And that Mrs Nene has dance all over her resume and yet she appeals me is strange. She was the worst dressed women in the industry during that time as far as i remember reading. And with a little ghati accent some might say she wasn't the most polished of 'em all.

So let's regroup - We are talking of the worst dressed women, non-polished,non-north indian (meaning non-Kapoor,Oberoi,Khanna etc), supposedly good dancer, whose biggest hits i considered embarrassment to my common sense? Am I for real? How could I even like her, leave aside being a fan !!!

What appealed to me probably and to most others i guess was, what i would call the "Dil Se" factor. Dixit had that. Dixit did everything "Dil Se", because of the honesty she had to her self. You can easily make out a fake from a real. And that "Dil Se" thingy i have never seen in lets say an Aishwarya Rai or a Sushmita Sen. If left to herself she could lighten the entire stadium. Her expressions came from inside. She did not hold her self back. She just "DID IT".
And that probably what appealed to most people. Her total commitment to her moment. Whatever moment she chose. Whether to make titillatingly silly expressions while dancing or just appealing to the saas bahu audience of "Hum Aap ke..." She did everything "Dil Se".

And last weekend i went to see Aaja Nachle to find if she still "had it" in her. I did not go to see and analyze if this could be her comeback. Frankly I don't believe "come back" is even a valid notion. Barring Dimple Kapadia i am not sure if we have seen come backs as such. And who is she going to compete with? Aishwarya Rai? Zinta and Ranis of this world? I thought she was one or two generations ahead.Doesn't make sense. I don't think she was even looking to do that.

Meaningful cinema was never Bollywood’s forte. One can argue that since Dixit has already achieved a lot and is way beyond competition and rat race she should have selected a role of “substance”. That's a fair comment. And it’s not that she has not done such efforts earlier. But where is the motivation to do such stuff at least in India? She (from what it seems) was going to come to India, shoot some frames and go back to her cozy life in the Americas.

Point is, she would have to wait for another decade to have that meaty role come her way. That’s how sad Bollywood’s scene is. You got to face the reality.
And “Nachle” wasn’t all that unreal, looking at the abysmal standards of “reality” set by Bollywood, it was as believable as say a Bunty-Babli.

Dixit had fun.And that’s what she came for. And that’s what came out on the screen too. Dance, sing and have fun and take a sabbatical from her homemaker routine. It almost feels like the Chopra camp and Dixit got together and came up with this fun/picnic idea. If along the way they could ask her loyal fans to join her, all the better.
Madhuri surely loves dancing and singing and going over-the-top on the stage performance. And Aditya Chopra provided her with that perfect platform in Nachle.I guess we can grant her that after all the years. She has a right to her own fun without caring for box-office outcome. I am of the view that since her aim was not to make a comeback and make a “Mother India” it’s only fair that she does the way she enjoys.
And I think we all enjoyed. All - as in all those who were sitting in that deserted theater. No one left the movie half way or even before the end. Till the last credits were shown people were still waiting. Considering the kind of movies fished out these days that was quite an achievement. For Madhuri fans that was good enough.

In the end it was Madhuri’s day out. And I’ll tell you what – at least one fan wasn’t complaining.

P.S : Another review from Outlook


Rathchakra said...

Well written, true blue fan posting this. I watched it last night and I was terribly disappointed. Madame M is at her usual best in emoting, dancing and she is dream-like (having better designers for her costumes only helps). I was disappointed by the amateurish script - it seemed like a middle school play. I was disappointed by the cardboard characters who switch sides with the drop of a hat. I totally understand that it was "her" movie, but the sheer waste of all other talented actors (Konkona Sen, Irfan Khan) was for no good reason. The only storyline that worked for me was the Ranvir Shorey one. The film falters between realism and then fantasy without holding on to either. If it was about singing/dancing and showcasing Madhuri, something like an Om-Shanti-Om would have been great (replacing SRK with her). That was unabashed, obscene, loud yet total entertainment where the movie does not take itself seriously. She surely can do better and deserves a lot better. And yes, there is room for a role of "substance" in today's Hindi cinema. It is finally (albeit extremely slowly) taking risks. Given her standing and status, she could have demanded a script that showcases her as an actress (Vishaal Bhardwaj and Nagesh Kukunoor come to mind). Aaja Nachle did not give me a "ek do teen" Madhuri nor did it give me a performance that will stay with me. It was like having a meal of microwaved left overs.

Kaunteya said...

@rathchakra: your point is well taken. It was after all a true blue fan (sic) posting :)

The only diversion i have with you is that i still felt the story line was fins (ok it was no Schindler's List)

In the end i enjoyed the simplicity of everything of that movie. The easy irrational switching of sides, the easy conversations and non-loaded dialogues, the semi-urban-rural UPish midtown humour. The only thing i did not like was the relation ship shown between her so called Guru.
Considering that it was an all an all Dixit Movie i don't even think the others were wasted.

For me it's like Sachin Tendulkar coming to play a one off flood light game in Wankhede Stadium 10 years from now. Will i watch that game for his skills or running between the wickets? NO
Will i come take that game seriously? Definitely NO.

First of all i will go and see Sachin as tribute. As a fan's tribute to him. And if he hit even two boundaries and a six for me, I will salute him and leave.

For me Madhuri scored at least a few boundaries and as i said, that was good enough for me.

But i understand your point and had she gone with the Kukoonoors and Bharadwajes of the world i would have still gone to see that movie, of course keeping a different set of expectations.
She chose the fun path and i can only say - Good for her.