Mera Piya Ghar Aaya is a dance number that I always recommend when you are trying to introduce Madhuri Dixit to somebody new. Because it is practically perfect. Once again Madhuri´s love for dancing is more then apparent and nobody can tell how much her knees hurt after the shooting! Not for a second does she let go of that joyous, sweet and mischevous expression. The dance was a part of a film Yaraana (1995), and though the movie did only an average business, the song became almost an anthemn. When Madhuri got married in 1999 and the knowledge about it spread out, there were special television programs showing this very song.
There is no anecdote related to the „Maya´s dance“ featured in a hit film Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), at least none known to me. All that can be said is that this was the only classical dance number in the film and it was choreographed by Jaikishan Maharaj Kiran. I know of several people who purchased the DVD only for this dance. No wonder. Madhuri dressed very simply in white, giving herself up to the beat of drums, dancing in a moonlight, is a wonderful sight to behold. When I watched the dance for the first time, I had the exactly same expression on my face as Shahrukh Khan in the film!
Makhna presented Madhuri (very much intentionally and with her consent) in a whole new sexy way. The ultra-short skirts, ponytail, straight hair...... everything was very diferent from her usual image. And it worked magic! It was this item song and a guest appearance in a movie Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan (1998) that brought together three grat names – Madhuri was accompanied by Amitabh Bachchan and Govinda, and all three fondly remember those seven days Madhuri spent on the sets of the film. It was the first (and seems that also last) time Madhuri and Big B were together in a film frame. "While working with Madhuri in Chhote Miyan,“ tweeted Amitabh in December 2010, „the first thought that crossed my mind was that I should have born 20 years later."
90s saw the globalization of Indian cinema on a truly big scale. Up until that point the westernized dancing was seen in Bollywood films, but the classical dancing and choreography inspired by it held the upper hand. But as the western trends became more and more fashionable, also this was changing. One of the best choreographers inspired by the west is Prabhu Deva. And when Madhuri was told he was responsible for one of the dance numbers in Pukar (2000) for the first time in her life she was scared of dancing, absolutely terrified she won´t be able to do it. And though Mr. Choreographer kept reassuring her the steps were all „very easy“, none of them was easy and it took Madhuri some time to master them, also because she was down with a fever for several weeks at the time. In the end the song was shot several times over, because the two main dancers were not completely satisfied with the result. Today Que Sera Sera is one of the most popular Madhuri dance numbers.
Lajja (2001) was a film full of star guest apearances. Urmila Matondakar and Sonali Bedre both were roped in for item numbers, and both were excellent, but the true dance highlight of the movie was Badi Mushkil performed by Madhuri. As a theater actress Jhanki she wants to share her joy of life and dance with Manisha Koirala, who attempts to join her near the end, but cannot really match our lady. Manisha admited: "Initially, I was a bit wary. Thanks to some of my earlier brash statements. But once she thawed, she was lovely. Oof, she's gorgeous. And I'm convinced she's an uncomplicated person. What you see is what you get. It took me ten years to realise that though. Know what? She even helped me out with my dance steps during the rehearsals for Lajja. I'm her biggest fan today."
"I was always a Madhuri Dixit fan. But after doing Devdas, I became her devotee. We used to shoot late at nights as almost all of Madhuri's songs in Devdas are in night. I used to see how engrossed Madhuri used to be while rehearsing the steps. We used to have food together. Me, Madhuri, Madhuri's mom and some people from crew. Even Shah Rukh sometimes. But then at the stroke of the morning hours of about 4.30 am, I again used to see MD, very fresh, calm and engrossed in her rehearsals. She used to practice each and every step so perfectly as is Pandit Birju Maharaj ji has just now taught her. This shows her professionalism, her dedication to her work. Otherwise I have seen actors being extremely late on shoots or giving it a complete skip. Working with Madhuri was like a morale boast. If a superstar can work so hard, then why can't people like us?" That is how Milind Gunaji recalled working with Madhuri in SLB´s Devdas. And whatever you think about it as a film, Devdas did give Madhuri three of her most beautiful, iconic dances. Kahe Chhed Mohe is possibly the most glorious moment of cinematic dancing ever. Maar Daala is by many considered to be the ultimate mujra song. And Dola Re Dola is probably the most amazing dance number I´ve ever seen. The latter two were choreographed (yet again) by Saroj Khan, Kahe Chhed Mohe was entrusted to Pandit Birju Maharaj, a Kathak Master, whom Madhuri admits to be completely in awe of. And the demanding Master let himself be heard that „after Madhuri Dixit, I don't find any actress capable of performing classical dancing flawlessly.“
So far the last one....... and I pray not the last one ever. The film Aaja Nachle (2007) did not succeed in India, though it recovered all its costs and did reasonably well overseas, but the title song picturized on Madhuri has become hugely popular. Vaibhavi Merchant did not have an easy task, but did a good job and gave Madhuri moves we had not seen her doing before. The black and blue striking fantasy that is Aaja Nachle made a huge impact, even if the film did not.
That would be for the famous ones.... and tommorow we´ll indulge ourselves with some seriously awesome dances, which are undeservingly forgotten....