The iconic Madhuri Dixit is back in the Netflix series The Fame Game. She speaks to Subhash K Jha about her life-choices in recent times, children and Lata Mangeshkar .
Good to have you back! What prompted you to take on The Fame Game ?
Thank you! You know, when Sri (Rao) approached me with this script , it was one I couldn’t say no to. The story of Anamika Anand was so endearing. Right off the bat I knew I wanted to work on this project. Netflix, the cast, Dharmatic, Sri Rao, the directors Bejoy Nambiar and Karishma Kohli ….everything just came together seamlessly.
How different was it shooting for a web series as compared with a feature film?
I don’t think it was too different shooting for a web series, I think a project is a project, regardless of its format. For me, work is work, I get up and do my job and I don’t see much of a difference in it.
The Fame Game is about the perils, pitfalls and pleasures of show business. How closely did you identify with your character Anamika Anand?
You know, the only similarity between my character Anamika and I, is that they are stars, well known names in the industry. It ends there. Anamika Anand and I are two very different individuals who have had very different paths in life. I have been blessed to have had the support of my family and peers throughout my career. Anamika wasn’t allowed that privilege. I think showbiz, just like any other business in the world, has its perils and pitfalls, and I think it’s universal. While I have seen hardships in the industry, I think it’s important to recognize the luck I have had, the luck that has let me live in the moment, spend time with my family and steer away from the pressure of it all and focus on my craft.
You have had a spectacular innings as an actress from Abodh to Kalank, and beyond. Which according to you are the landmarks of your career, and why?
Thank you so much for saying that, that’s very kind of you. This is a tough one, because how do you choose? Each leg of my career has brought new experiences and joys to me. I learn so much with every character I play. I think stepping into the OTT platform with The Fame Game on Netflix is definitely a landmark. I get to reach a global audience in multiple languages and my kids think it’s very cool that they’ll see me on Netflix. But I do also genuinely think every role I’ve played from Gauri in Abodh to Nisha in Hum…Aapke Hain Koun to Bahaar Begum in Kalank are all career-defining moments.
You have been largely away from acting, on the big or the small screen. We did see you in Karan Johar’s period film Kalank(and you were as beautiful as ever). But that apart we haven’t seen much of you . To stay away from acting…was that a conscious decision?
You know like I said, I think I’ve been incredibly lucky that my career, my fans and my co-workers have been so gracious. I never looked at it as staying away from acting. Life happened, I met my husband Ram, I knew this was the man I wanted to marry and that’s what I did.We moved away. I had my kids and I just lived in the moment with them. I love being a mom and I love being an actor, it’s just about striking that balance.
How involved are you with your dancing pursuit? At this stage of your life which is more interesting to you, dancing or acting?
Learning to dance is like riding a bicycle, it’s something you’ll never forget. It’s always going to be a part of me, just like acting is. I think being a dancer helps me be a better actor and vice versa. I have been blessed in life to work with legends like Saroj ji and Pandit Birju Maharaj ji, to perfect my craft, and it will always be an integral part of me that goes hand in hand with my acting.
I remember speaking to Pandit Birju Maharaj and he named you as the right artiste to carry his legacy forward?
Wow, that is immensely humbling and I’m grateful that someone of his stature thought of me in such high regard. His legacy is one for the books, one that should be remembered and worshipped but I doubt anyone can take his place and carry it on. He was a beautiful teacher and his legacy carries on in all the lives he’s touched and all the students he’s lent his utmost expertise to. I too hope to make him proud and carry on his legacy where I can.
A lot has changed over the years in the entertainment industry. The last two years have been especially tough on everyone. How have you coped with the Corona crisis and how much has it affected your life and work?
Needless to say the pandemic has been hard on everyone and I really hope and pray everyone recovers and emerges from this stronger. Coming to me, it was difficult of course, but I am super grateful to have a very supportive family. Professionally speaking, I have received my fair share of work and I feel blessed to be where I am. We shot The Fame Game during the pandemic with all the necessary precautions and kudos to Netflix and Dharmatic Entertainment for handling it so carefully.
The industry and civilization lost its voice recently. Lataji, the Goddess Of All Melodious Things, was your voice in many songs. Your thoughts on her?
She was a visionary. She had the voice of an angel and her demise is a loss to the world but also a very personal loss to me. Lata ji was a beautiful soul. I have been immensely lucky to have worked with her, danced to her melodious music and call her a dear friend. She was someone I looked up to, like the rest of the world. Her music lives on. Everytime I hear one of her songs, I feel her presence and I find myself smiling, reminiscing. The world lost a legend, but she will continue to live on through her fans and her music.
Coming back to The Fame Game,how difficult was it balancing those hours of shooting with your home life? Now that your sons are grown up do they demand less of your time? Does that mean we will see more of you on screen?
I work two fulltime jobs .I am a mother first and then an actor. My children are my world but they are all grown up now! So they do require less attention as opposed to earlier, however, I like to balance my work and home life. My older one is off to college and my younger one is now taking that step, so in between work we’re working on college applications, exam preparation, and his next steps. Family time is very important to both Ram and I and so I always prioritise both.
What are your plans for this year? Do we see you in any feature film?
My plan for right now is to promote The Fame Game and see it out, what’s next, only time will tell!