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Madhuri Dixit’s Actual Comeback Is The Fame Game

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Madhuri  Dixit

After  several misfires  Madhuri  Dixit Nene who  left the Hindi film industry  in 1999 to concentrate  on marriage and  motherhood, has finally made her comeback. Netflix’s series The Fame Game which casts her as a   Bollywood superstar gone missing , finds  Ms Dixit Nene in sparkling form.

The serial’s producer Karan  Johar tells me  Madhuri  was the first and only choice to  play the superstar Anamika Anand.

It was  in 2007 , 8 years after Sanjay Leela  Bhansali’s Devdas when  Madhuri   quit Bollywood,  that her  comeback  vehicle  was  planned by none other than Aditya Chopra.The film Aaja Nachle had Madhuri playing the  author-backed tailormade role of an NRI dancer returning  home to find her  roots,

Tragically Aaja Nachle  bombed.

I had spoken  to Madhuri  after the  film’s release. She  was unfazed by its failure. “There’s no fear of failure in me. I’m just happy that something different has been attempted in my comeback film. There’s no hero in the film. But I won’t call myself the film’s hero. I’m the female protagonist. I remember when I met Aditya Chopra for the first time my first question to him was – do people still want to see me? He looked at me very strangely and said, ‘Don’t worry about that.’ But I was really concerned.”

Coincidentally she  did a  lot of dancing in  Aaja Nachle  as she’s  seen doing The Fame Game . In both . her choreographer  is Vaibhavi Merchant.

About her mythical dancing skills Madhuri had said, “It just comes naturally to me. Earlier, I had many of my best dances choreographed by Saroj Khanji. And she was the boss. I just listened to her when she cracked the whip.In Aaja Nachle I was working with Vaibhavi Merchant who’s an ardent fan of mine. And she was quivering on the first day. I had to call Vaibhavi aside and warn her we could do no work if she was going to be so nervous of me. So, earlier Sarojji used to calm me down, this time I was calming my choreographer down. I was very impressed by her. We got along very well.”

There is  no doubt that  Madhuri Dixit is the  last  of our screen  queens. But when  was  the  last time we saw her  wowing  us?After Aaja  Nachle she was seen in some further fisacos like Gulaab Gang, Total Dhamaal and  Karan Johar’s lavish disaster Kalank, KJo’s own Razia Sultan, Kalank is referenced  very prominently in The Fame Game when Madhuri’s screen  daughter is seen  watching Madhuri in Kalank and mouthing  its lines.

In the  all boys-no-sense  atmosphere of  Total  Dhamaal  Madhuri  Dixit was  as out of place  here  as a riff  of gospel music in  a rave party.Not much of a choice , really since  her comeback in  2007 was  a  bit of damper. The Yash Raj film about an  NRI returning to her roots and Indian  classical dancing in  Aaja Nachle  was  specially designed for  her .

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The film flopped and  Madhuri hastily returned  to her  home in  the  US. But  the  itch to face  the camera never  leaves  the  movie star,  unless she is Rajshri , Vyjanthimala  or Suchitra Sen, the  only three actresses  I know who never looked  back once they retired. For the rest, whether it was Mumtaz(and her disastrous comeback in  Pahlaj Nihalani’s Aandhiyan)  or Urmila Matondkar (her   even more disastrous  item number in last year’s  Black Mail), they all want  to return.

Jaya Bachchan and Sridevi made a spectacular comeback in  Silsila and English Vinglish, respectively. Dimple Kapadia returned  to the  camera  after  years  of marriage  and  motherhood  in Sagar.

If  only Madhuri Dixit were that lucky! After  her  failed attempt  at a comeback  in  Aaja  Nachle  she again  made  a comeback 7 years later  (that  itch again!)  in Abhishek Choubey’s  Dedh Ishqiya .This time the critics were happy and  the  audience  was  tantalized as  her character had  shades  of lesbianism  in  it.However  Dedh Ishqiya was  not  a  blockbuster and it did not open  the floodgates  for  Madhuri’s  second innings. During the same year Madhuri  was seen  in  another female-hero avatar  in  Gulab Gang which  flopped resoundingly. No more was seen  of Madhuri on screen  for  the  next  five years. During this period  she was  constantly in the  news  for  various activities  on  television and the internet.

In 2018 she  did  her  first Marathi film Bucket List which seemed  inspired by Sridevi’s English Vinglish and  Vidya Balan’s  Tumhari SuluBucket List was  not the success  it  was meant to be although Ranbir Kapoor made a guest appearance as  a return gift to  Madhuri who  did an item song(completely out of place)  for Ranbir in Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani.

To see  her prance in  a trance   in  Total Dhamaal  to an imaginary comic  rhythm was like watching Deepika Padukone  play the lead in  Gully Boy. It was not becoming  for an actress  of Madhuri’s  dignity and grace to be hopping and skipping in the Big Boyz Burlesque Club.

Finally, at last,   in The Fame Game Madhuri  hits the  right notes.In this web of illusion and deceit  she is  a divine  presence , a  fully certifiable  diva,  chickensoup for  the soul , tonic for the eyes and a feast for  the  senses.