Charting the rise and rise of the actress who ruled hearts for close to three decades, dazzling with her beauty on screen and off it
Subhash K Jha (DNA; May 15, 2017)

It’s hard to imagine Dixit as being 50. But then you see how beautifully she has aged, and how fabulously she has managed her life, and you know 50 is just a number that the ageless beauty has encountered in her beautiful journey of life.

Madhuri’s beginnings as an actress could never have indicated how far she would go. Her rise was not meteoric, but slow and steady. She started her career modestly in a Rajshri film Abodh in 1984.

Then came Tezaab (1988) and the hit song Ek Do Teen, that turned Madhuri into a superstar. Director N Chandra recalls, “When we were shooting the song, we knew something extraordinary was happening. Madhuri was electric on camera. Saroj Khan, who is a hard taskmaster couldn’t stop praising her. We knew Madhuri was going to be a superstar beyond any.”

Showman Subhash Ghai and the subsequent Ram Lakhan (1989) turned the tides of Madhuri’s career. The number Bada Dukh Dee Na was the first time that Lata Mangeshkar sang for Madhuri. “I felt I was finally a full-fledged heroine only after Latabai sang for me,” Madhuri had told this reporter once. The nightingale would go on to sing 16 songs for Madhuri in her most iconic film Hum Aaapke Hain Koun..!

Her journey after Tezaab and Ram Lakhan (1989) was rapid, swift and sure-footed. People like Subhash Ghai (Ram Lakhan, Khalnaayak) Boney and Anil Kapoor (Pukar), Rahul Rawail (Anjaam), Indra Kumar (Beta, Dil), Rakesh Roshan (Khel, Koyla) cast Madhuri in roles that gave her immense commercial clout and a reputation for delivering measured, graceful deep performances.

Sooraj Barjatya’s Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! is to Madhuri’s career what Mother India was to Nargis or Mughal-e-Azam is to Madhubala. It iconised the dancer-actress beyond all definitions of celluloid fame. Among those who were lifelong fans of Madhuri and the historic film was artiste and painter M F Husain who saw the film 67 times and directed a whole film Gaja Gamini dedicated to her beauty.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali confesses he’s an ardent Dixit fan. “Madhuri is magic on screen. I couldn’t think of casting anyone else as Chandramukhi in my Devdas. She was my first and only choice. Devdas couldn’t have been made without her. I wanted her for my first film Khamoshi: The Musical. But things didn’t work out at that time. As a filmmaker, it was very important for me to work with Madhuri. She is a complete actress. A skilled dancer and superlative actress,” says Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

In 1999, Madhuri married the US-based doctor Sriram Nene and migrated to Denver. Their marriage was a success because as she jokingly once mentioned, he had not seen any of her films and was not besotted by her. Madhuri decided to return to India in 2011.

At 50, her beauty and grace craves for a Bridges Of Madison County. Instead, she gets a Gulab Gang. Here’s hoping that some enterprising filmmaker would write a role that does justice to her beauty.