Sunday, 15 May 2011

How to eat a hero

The gorgeous man-eater
If you should just like that, on the spot, remember some of Madhuri´s male co-stars, the names to spring into your mind will be Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Aamir Khan and Jackie Shroff. Then you just might remember Mithun Chakraborthy as well as Rishi Kapoor. The truth is that after she completely overruled Anil in Beta (1992) and whenever a film of hers flopped with people saying she was the only good thing in it, she quickly gained a reputation of a woman who tears her co-stars apart and „eats them“. It was said that many actors were apprehensive of acting alongside her, because she was sure to overshadow them. This was a rare quality which, as far as I know, only two other women possessed – Madhubala and Sridevi. Not even Anil, Jackie or Salman for hat matter were saved. I honestly believe she only found a true match as far as screen presence, charisma and skills are concerned in Shahrukh and Aamir. But let´s take a look at some of her lesser known victims.

Tapas Pal was Madhuri´s first hero. Her debut film Abodh was meant to be his entry into Bollywood. He originates from Calcutta and these days he´s into politics, while his co-star, whom he launched (though unsuccessfully) is Bollywood legend. Abodh however turned out to be his first and only film in Hindi. In between 1991-2000 he had no film releases whatsoever, most recently he appeared in a movie „I love you“ from 2007. You cannot really talk about any chemistry between the two actors. Madhuri was too young and too inexperienced, plus the film was about marital misunderstanding. Still they did look well together, and Abodh remains a sweet film thanks to their pairing. They were not even remotely sizzling, but definitely pleasant to watch. And funny to say that even though Tapas was an experienced actor, it was the debuting girl who left some impact.

Vinod Khanna. Alright, you would remember the fact he was paired opposite Madhuri because of that super infamous scene in Dayavan. I think it is sad not many bother to see further. Vinod Khanna was much older then Madhuri and their couple could be perhaps seen as Shahrukh/Deepika of their time. They were paired opposite each other in two films. First it was Dayavan – and the kissing scene, during which Madhuri was so desperately uncomfortable, never really bothered me. The couple was just married after all, and there was no eating of each other´s heads anyway with sensual music in the background. Dayavan (1988) actually had several truly beautiful romantic moments and one could feel peace and silent love from the relationship. The second film was Mahasangram from 1990. Here Madhuri had a rather insignificant, but truly hilarious role and kept the film from being too depressing. We do not see much of a relationship here. She simply meets him, robs him, saves him, dances for him, he saves her life and they get married. While in Dayavan I actually quite liked them together, in Mahasangram they did not have any effect whatsoever. Madhuri was there for herself and not as a half of any couple. And she did a splendid job.
One of the most touching moments of Dayavan.
Sunny Deol appeared with Madhuri in two films. First one was a hit Tridev (1989), in which they were husband and wife, but considering they are violently separated very early in the film, there is not much jodi-ness going on. We do get a beautiful love song though. The second time they acted alongside each other was 12 years later in Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke. In this forgotten (THANK GOD) Sunny was her friend, whom she refuses to marry, since she is in love with somebody else. Thus we can mention Ajay Devgn. YRHPK had him as the main lead in a double role, and Madhuri romanced „both“ Ajays, though only one was interested in her. While Sunny and Madhuri looked good together and I wouldn´t mind seeing more of them even today, Ajay Devgn is one man with whom she shares a truly zero chemistry. He is brilliant actor. She is brilliant actress. But they simply don´t work. After the film Ajay admitted he always felt dwarfed by her acting.
Sunny and Madhuri just engaged. Jackie was Madhuri´s brother in the film.
With Ajay Devgan. Chemistry, kahan ho tum?
Sanjay Kapoor´s name accompanied Madhuri´s in two films – first time it was in Raja in 1995. The film by Indra Kumar was meant to be his way to the Bollywood height, but even though the film was a big hit, all credit was given to Madhuri. Not only her skills and experience was far greater, but Sanjay Kapoor, though an OK actor, completely lacks any screen presence and Madhuri pretty much reduced him to ashes, though of course not intentionally. Sanjay Kapoor did not stand a chance at all. Next time they met on the silver screen he was in love with her, but she was not in love with him, though thanks to a dream sequence we got to see them romantically involved for a moment. That was in Mohabbat (1997). And Mohabbat also marked Madhuri´s first working association with Akshaye Khanna. Madhuri was thus one of the three actresses (other two being Hema Malini and Sridevi) to romance both father and son. And she had better chemistry with the son, though he is seven years younger. She did look older then him in the film, which did not at least bother me, because she still looked gorgeous, and you know, older women do romance younger guys in real life pretty often. But for many narrow minded people this was a big problem, and reviews more then about the film talked about her 9 years old kissing scene with Akshaye´s father. How professional. Second time that gave us a chance to see Akshaye with Madhuri was ten years later in Aaja Nachle. His hair loss obviously made up for any visible age difference and there was not one complaint. And while in Mohabbat they were cute, in Aaja Nachle they were sizzling! This is one couple I´d love to see again.
You know without the man on the left it would be a perfect picture.
As far as I know (and I can be wrong as I have not seen all Madhuri´s movies) Chunky Panday too shared the screen space with the diva two times. In Tezaab (1989) I can´t actually recall any scenes he would share with Madhuri, except for driving the car while she and Anil Kapoor are being miserable about their romance not going too well. He got his chance to woo Madhuri in 1991 in Khilaaf, and well, he screwed up. Madhuri´s unbounding passion in the film, be it connected to love or hate, was just overwhelming, while he managed to make a complete idiot out of himself in the first part, and rather unconvincing tragic lover in the second. To look at them was pleasant. To watch him act with her not so much.
No matter what, this song was amazing...
Nana Patekar was never trying to hide his deep admiration towards La Dixit and even was heard reciting poetry dedicated to her during his interviews. Their working relationship covers several films, but they were never romantically paired in the true sense. In Mohre (1987), Parinda (1989) and Prahaar (1991) they had very limited number of scenes together (if any at all). This change with 1999 film Wajood. Not even this was a „jodi“, because Nana plays a stalker in love with Madhuri, and their only romance takes place in his dreams and imagination. The chemistry between them was great though. I always say you don´t have to be a romantic pair to have a chemistry, and this applies to Nana/Madhuri combo. Just watch their final confrontation scene in the theater to know what I mean. The explosion of superb acting of the two will blow you away. Nana did survive.
Talent and charisma overload.
Very similarly like in Mohabbat, there was a love triangle in another OK-ish film Aarzoo (1999). In it Madhuri was paired with Akshay Kumar. They have already appeared together in Dil To Pagal Hai, but there he has more of a cameo role and she belonged to Shahrukh Khan (after all, the most beautiful lady belongs to the sexiest man, no?). In Aarzoo he got her undivided attention and it was really nice to see their pairing. I found them refreshing, though poor Akshay did not stand a chance against Madhuri in attention grabbing.... or other things. Saif Ali Khan, apart from admitting his naughtiest fantasy is to kiss Madhuri´s navel, also became a victim to Madhuri´s aura.
With Akshay...
...and with the guy who has naughty thoughts about her navel.
There are two more names that come to my mind: Samir Soni was lucky enough to make a couple with Madhuri in Lajja. True, we did not get to see much more apart him being a complete ass and ruining her dreams. But I wouldn´t mind seeing them together again, as I think Samir is a fine actor and well, they looked good. Finally we have Kumar Gaurav. He and Madhuri made a completely forgettable film Phool together in 1993. Do I really have to say that she ate them all up as was her habit?


  1. In Dil it was widely said and known that Madhuri took the whole credit. In fact magazines even wrote Madhuri saved Amir's career. Amir was not a very good actor back then and definitely not even as close as a star as Madhuri. I am just saying what was the general view, Same was with Salman (HAHK)and Anil (BETA).

  2. Hema Malini and Sridevi both has acted both with father and son before Madhuri Dixit.
    Hema malini with Raj Kapoor and Randhir Kapoor.
    Sridevi with Dharmendra (Nakabandi) and Sunny Deol.

  3. Thank you for the info! I´m not that fmiliar with older BOllywood as yet and I recall reading the Madhuri was first therefore I thought it was true :) I´ll edit the article.

  4. Madhuri Dixit had a very limited range of expressions which she kept on using all her carrier. Her biggest asset was her skin show, kissing power & dance which would make the movie goers salivate for more. I know she is adored by millions but this is a fact. You cannot compare her with actresses like Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi or shri devi.

  5. Madhuri Dixit was inexhaustible and her talent remains untapped by filmmakers. As Mahesh Bhatt said - she had the depth not ony of them was capable to show. She has the most expressive face ever and her biggest assets are acting talent, gift of empathy for characters, incredible dancing skills and breth-taking beauty. She has surpassed everyone you mentioned (and I do love them all). What you wrote is no fact, it is your OPINION. The only FACT is that she is repeatedly voted the best ACTRESS of Bollywood, be it by media houses, critics or public.

  6. BTW I find it funny how people who want to criticie her always are "Anonymous".

  7. Sridevi (when single) had a Hindi film career for 15 years. Madhuri Dixit (when single) had a Hindi film career for 15 years. Sridevi had 6 bona-fide hits, the last being Chandni (a hit is when the film doubles its investment) in this period (Judaai was a hit but by then Sridevi had already lost her position and got involved with Boney Kapoor).

    Madhuri Dixit had 11 bona-fide hits in this period. So in terms of the box-office, Madhuri Dixit took over from Sridevi in 1993 itself after Khalnayak became a hit.

    As for reports that Karisma Kapoor dethroned Madhuri, it seems a bit impractical. Both she and Kajol were close to hitting the top spot by 1999, but they were not lucky enough to manage that. Aishwarya Rai was in demand from 2000-2002, Rani Mukherjee was the flavour from 2003-2006, Kareena Kapoor hit the peak between 2007-2009 and now Vidya Balan is enjoying the golden spotlight.

    Performance-wise, I don't see any actress (except perhaps Vidya Balan and Rani Mukherjee) giving top notch performances in each film. What I mean to say is, even if you take some of Madhuri's most useless films (I feel Dil Tera Aashiq, Yaarana, Mohabbat, Aarzoo and Ye Raaste Hain Pyar Ke qualify for that title) you will inevitably end up feeling that Madhuri Dixit's performance was the only worthwhile thing about the film. Ditto for Sridevi.

    Be it commercial success or critical approval, Madhuri Dixit has it. This lady has earned her fame. Sridevi was no less deserving, but complacence and a shattered personal life cut short her reign at the top. In the final analysis, Madhuri wins.

  8. Recently I watched Dayavan and I had to make a conscious effort to get past the whole Madhuri-Vinod Khanna May-December thing. 'Aaj phir tum pe pyar aaya' is a beautiful song... and yet I felt physically ill when I watched that initial beat because he looked like he was eating her up and she was going along with it because she had to. Up till then, I'd been watching their interaction with a kind of resignation - oh yaaa, the older hero and younger heroine, no equality in Bollywood, actresses have sell-by date etc etc - but when they got married and then their love scene came on...
    Look Vinod Khanna looked older than her. Their first night is supposed to be the culmination of all their longing for each other.
    But Vinod Khanna did not look like he was in love, he looked like he was in lust. Otherwise you'd think that after waiting for so long, he'd be more hesitant, more worshipful. Because of Vinod Khanna's sensual looks and behaviour, and Madhuri's utter youth (and discomfort), not to mention the utterly unnecessary length of the scene, it looked forced.

    Comparing them to SRK_Deepika is only relevant in terms of age because the dynamic is completely different.For me, the main reason I can never find the Deepika SRK jodi sexy is because there is always an element of respect and affection in the way they interact with each other on (and off) screen. It's the kind of thing that makes you think of long walks on the beach, or hugs, or washing dishes together... like the way a long time couple or best friends do.

    All those scenes in Dayavan are supposed to show how complete their happiness, how they were attuned to each other physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I think if it had been an Anil Kapoor or an SRK, the whole love story would have been more sublime and amplified it's tragic ending.

    The rest of the film was good.