Tuesday, 10 May 2011

When dil goes dhak dhak (part 1)

To choose TOP 10 of Madhuri Dixit´s dance numbers turned out an impossible task. There is probably no other actress who had so many astounding dances. Plus what more, the magic she and her choreographers created, added a lot to the hit status of the songs used. Ek Do Teen or Mera Piya Ghar Aaya would have never become so popular had it not been for Madhuri´s sensational dancing. But I must say that the dance numbers that are most popular are not always necessarily the „best“ ones Madhuri has done. And so in the end I decided to make two articles..... Today we shall remember the famous and big ones (most of them were choreographed by the one and only Saroj Khan) in two parts (cause there are helluva lot of them), tommorow we´ll take a look at several, that seem rather forgotten or were literally lost in time (and most of those were too choreographed by Saroj Khan).....
Should we go with the timeline, then the first BIG and HUGE and SUPER-FAMOUS Madhuri´s dance has to be Ek Do Teen from Tezaab (1899). The voice of Alka Yagnik singing about numbers inspired Saroj Khan who came out with a catchy choreography influenced by western dancing, and the dancer herself did the rest. Madhuri, till then trained only in Kathak, had at first a difficulty mastering filmi dancing. Till then whatever dancing she did was more or less classical. And Saroj Khan was not optimistic. „You won´t be able to do this“ she said to the girl, and with these words she fueled Madhuri´s determination and stubborness. She stood up to the challenge and rehearsed for days, from morning to evening without a rest. Until Saroj Khan literally folded her hands in front of her with „Madhuri, that´s enough.“ „No, I´ll come again tommorow,“ the girl answered. But the choreographer pleaded some more: „I won´t have time for you. I have to train the group.“ And the adamant girl just plainly said: „Do not wory about me. You work with the group, I´ll dance in the corner over there.“ And she did come and she did dance. After rehearsals came the shooting, and as Neetu Chandra, the director of Tezaab, remembered: „She made an incredible thing. She was shooting for 25 hours! She wanted to give her best and I think that´s why the song became a legendary song.“ And Madhuri herself admited that most of the final footage was shot after a whole day at 5:30 AM, after a whole day of working relentlessly.

Ram Lakhan was shot before Tezaab, but was delayed in post-production and hence it released only after Tezaab had become a hit. This definitely worked in Madhuri´s favour. She might have gone largely unnoticed as subtle and demure Radha, but the Ek Do Teen craze and sudden demand made her one of the attractions of the film, that too went on to become a blockbuster. And she did not let anyone down. Very well known Bada Dukh Deena was the first Lata Mangeshkar song ever picturized on Madhuri, and she as huge Lata-ji´s fan was very excited about it. Saroj Khan has been instructed here by Subhash Ghai, who had just taken young Madhuri under his wing, that she should not let the girl dance „too much“ during the song, and then in several short moments showcase her talent and potential. And Saroj Khan did just that. It was also here, while young Madhuri is „singing“ and expressing her sorrow through her eyes and face, that people for the first time noticed the resemblance with the legendary Madhubala.

Sailaab did not bring a flood of viewers into the theaters and it did a below average bussiness, but it is remembered to this day for one reason only – Humko Aajkal Hai Intezaar. The song was unusual because only the chorus was sung by the heroine, and the rest was entrusted to back vocal singers. And Madhuri did honestly wonder what is she supposed to do during the parts when she´s not „singing“. But Saroj Khan had a clear image in her mind and once she managed to calm the dancer down, they created history. The Sailaab song is possibly the most popular Madhuri dance number in India till this day. It mesmerized the audience completely. Karan Johar still recalls how he bought tickets, went into the theater, watched the song and came out, because he couldn´t get over „how briliantly she could dance, how briliantly it was choreographed and how absolutely fantastic she looked“.

When he was first told he is expected to dance, and to top it to dance with Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt, a guy with a kind heart and no dancing ability whatsoever, was petrified. He practiced for more then a month before he was confident enough, and all the practice did bring its fruit. Wild, energetic and very much westernized Tamma Tamma was one of the most physically challenging dances Madhuri was ever compelled to do. And it was not just because she was dancing in high heels. A little „Michael Jackson“ sequence with a chair is, as you can see for yourself, shot in one single continuous take. Four dancers. Everytime one of them made a mistake the whole thing had to start again. And again. In the end there were exactly 36 unsuccessful takes! And when Madhuri and other finally sat down and took off their shoes, their feet were full of blisters and bleeding. This shows pure profesionalism and determination.

Dhak Dhak. A song that earned Madhuri her most famous nickname and cemented her position as a superstar. Provocating? Yes. Daring? Most definitely. Sensual? HELL YEAH! Vulgar? Never. And that´s it. Dhak Dhak knocked the breath out of everyone as they watched Madhuri dressed in a bright orange saree taking a deep breath of her own, while Anil Kapoor (oye lucky man!) held her arms back. Originally intended for Sridevi, who refused, film Beta was at the day of its premiere itself unoficially remaned to Beti, thanks to Madhuri´s powerful performance (she received her second Filmfare award for this film). And Dhak Dhak was an icing on the cake. The song was shot in an unusual hurry – in exactly three nights (normally a song takes at least seven days to finish), and the set was originally full of vibrant colours. But cameraman proclaimed the set as horrible and on his demand all was toned into dark tones that made the orange saree really shine. And of course, Madhuri.

Would you really believe it is just a heart yearning for love that is hiding under a certain choli? Well, feministic organizations, that were loudly protesting against the song, did not. Choli Ke Peeche raised a storm even before the film Khalnayak made its entrance into the theaters across the country. The provocative title was enough to shock the critics and pretty much everyone.... Today it is a legendary song with a story of its own! Choreography (yet again by Saroj Khan) included a lot of traditional folk movements and till this day one cannot help but being mesmerized by seemingly little things that together create the astounding dance number. Be it the fact that when Madhuri first appears her face is covered, be it a seductive movement of her perfect hips as she walks, be it the leg movement that makes her skirt dance along....

Year 1994 came and with it Hum Aapke Hain Koun. A film built on family values and music had lot of dancing and practically every of the 14 songs featured Madhuri in one way or another. Four of these songs were big dance numbers, but I´m going to feature only two, that are mostly mentioned and also most remembered. First is Joote Do Paise Lo, during which Salman Khan and Madhuri enjoy teasing each other over a custom of stealing groom´s shoes. The song is extremely catchy and the picturization makes it a wonderful fun too. The innocent and sweet chemistry between the two main leads is beautifully captured. Just as mischevous but even more famous is Didi Tera Deewar Deewana. The purple saree Madhuri wore throughout the song immeditely spawned over millions of copies and was in great demand. And even in such a joking song, there was something enthralling about Madhuri. Just as her admirer M.F. Hussain said: „Remember how she bends down and takes those five steps backwards and bursts into song. I have never seen anything quite like this. It is outrageously sexy and yet almost spiritual in its impact.“ And just for a change, the choreographer here was Jay Borade.

There is one dance movement Shahrukh Khan has still not learned, although it is one of his life goals ever since year 1994 and film Anjaam. And that is the trademark signature arm movement of vivacious Chane Ke Khet Mein, that had Madhuri singing teasingly to the audience about her lost innocence in a rice field. Seeing the song, the dance and the super gorgeous dancer, one can hardly be angry with Shahrukh Khan for going utterly mad for Madhuri in the film, that soon after turns darker and darker...... but Chane Ke Khet Mein is still free of the glooming tragedies lurking in the future and the joy Madhuri obviously feels while dancing is just springing out of her! Just like Choli Ke Peeche this song too had a lot of folk influenced moves and Madhuri proved once and for all she is the Queen of facial expressions. There is one more interesting fact revealed by the choreographer herself: „The song...involved Madhuri dancing around Deepak Tijori, with Dholak in his hands, in a single sequence.. there were 15 retakes and shot was not getting completed. In the end Madhuri got a bit frustrated , tired rather, and went into her van. We all were waiting outside expecting response from her like "lets pack up"  or "let me rehearse today and will do it tommorow" or "let´s split the sequence in two halfs" or "give me some easy steps" etc. But this girl, Madhuri, comes out looking all fresh and says lets do it and the shot got OK in first take. That´s her. Trying her best to not let others down."

Saroj Khan/Madhuri Dixit combo was still to produce some more serious hits together. And one of them was Ankiyaan milaoon from the 1995 film Raja. Just like in case of Beta, the film was promptly, though unoficially, renamed to Rani as soon as it released, such was Madhuri power. The music was overally hugely appreciated, but this particular song was the one most revered. Why? Film director Ramesh Sippy let himself be heard he found Madhuri „a peculiar combination of Madhubala and Suchitra Sen with dancing ability that neither of them had. She can carry off the song like Ankhiyan Milaye from Raja, which is a song without situation. So carrying that song just with her dancing ability and looks made it such a crazy that people would just go the the theatre to see the song. I´ve seen people glued to the television just to watch the song. The expression she has when she come down from a car are rarely seen.“ Madhuri herself loved the beat of the song and enjoyed herself to the utmost. But once again she gave her co-star nightmares. Sanjay Kapoor still remembers: "When I had to shoot with Madhuri for the song, I was nervous because I knew Madhuri learns steps in two minutes and I would take two hours to deliver the perfect dance move. I would wake up at 6 in the morning, call the choreographer, rehearse for the shoot for three hours and only then get the shots right. Even Madhuri doesn't know this - I guess I'll have to visit the US to tell her how I was able to dance with her!"

Part 2 coming later today :)


  1. Oh my, what a refreshing article!
    After reading your article I'm aware of the fact that I definitely need to watch more Madhuri movies. I didn't know most of the songs! :O
    Except for Choli Ke Peeche, Dhak Dhak and the songs from Hum Aapke Hain Koun.
    Madhuri just shines in every song, wow I'm falling in love all over again ^^

    Great article! :D

  2. Whoops! I clearly didn't see this before I posted my own tribute to Dhak Dhak!

    Either way, love this article. And all the songs you chose. Sighhh this is really taking me back down memory lane!

  3. I read your post and it´s great! Do not care what others write, because even if you choose the same theme... it is never going to be the same! :)

  4. malika - I´m so happy you liked it! :) And this is just a one part of the article :D

  5. Wow! Great post, can't wait for part two! :D

  6. It´s coming in a short while! ;)

  7. I wanted to show my favourite dancer numbers too. :(

    (I don't think I'll post this article now.)

    Great post!!! I envy your writing!

  8. But even if you post your fav dance numebrs, it will NOT be the same article!!!!! Do post pretty please! This isn´t about my "favourite" ones. It´s just a reminder of the famous ones. Tommorow come the "forgotten" ones.

    And I envy YOUR style of writing.

  9. If one can actually sit down and select 10, that's talent. I always have a hard time picking out the top ten of my own list. Always find a couple other songs lurking their way into the list.

  10. I absolutely loved reading this. I feel so nostalgic for all of these songs. Going to watch them all now. I remember being a kid and copying all the dance moves.... ok I still do that but still :P

    Thanks so much Ally

  11. Jasmine - I could not pick out those ten dances. It was really imposible... Thank you for stopping by!

    Dingly - I´m so happy you liked it! And it doesn´t happen too often for me to get you nostalgic! :D And you should send a video of yourself dancing sometime!!

  12. wow, J'adore this article, I'm a bit late to the party but my contribution for Madhuri week is a movie review of Sailaab which I hope to have up by the weekend, i'm loving your blog so much

  13. Oh thank you so so much! And I cannot wait for your review!!