Blockbuster star, Chartbuster actress: Madhuri Dixit-Nene turns 55

Madhuri Dixit Nene. Photo: Slam Dunk Communications

On May 15, Madhuri Dixit (now Dixit-Nene), actress (Hindi films and a web series and a Marathi film), singer (films and singles), producer and social activist, turns a sprightly 55. The world knows about the accomplishments of the last of our female superstars, who began her career because her classmate was the daughter of writer-director Govind Moonis, who introduced her in Abodh.

Abodh was produced by Rajshri Productions, who later went on to also produce Padma Shri winner Madhuri Dixit-Nene’s career-biggest hit, Hum Aapke Hain Koun!… (1994), which was the biggest hit of the entire 1990s, scoring over even Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.

But Madhuri was not just about one blockbuster. She starred in the biggest hits of 1988 (Tezaab), 1990 (Dil), 1991 (Saajan) and 1992 (Beta) besides other super-hits like Ram Lakhan (which was 1989’s biggest hit until the penultimate Friday of the year, which saw the release of another Rajshri blockbuster, Maine Pyar Kiya!), Tridev, Kishen Kanhaiya, Khal-Nayak, Dil To Pagal Hai and (internationally) Devdas. Later came a cameo in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and the lead in Total Dhamaal as her two 100-crore club entries.

In 1989, she had had nine releases, none of which flopped (Ram Lakhan, Tridev, Paap Ka Ant, Kanoon Apna Apna, Prem Pratiggya, Ilaaka, Mujrim, Vardi and Parinda).

And when you are a superstar, the heroes who co-star with you tend to cross generations: and so Madhuri worked with Rishi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan (a cameo in Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan, Amitabh’s home production), Vinod Khanna and Mithun Chakraborty, also Sunny Deol, Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff and  Govinda from the next generation, and the three Khans, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan and others as well.

Happily married since 1999 to cardiovascular surgeon Shriram Nene (who practiced in Denver), the couple, with sons Arin and Ryan, relocated to India in 2011. They are now active in films, health and more with a string of physical and digital initiatives, including Dance With Madhuri, her online dance classes.

A cavalcade of acting trophies (with brilliant turns also in flop films like Mrityudand or Anjaam) signify the fact that she is an actress of substance, but even more noticeably, Madhuri is known as a terrific dancer and has enacted over 50 hit songs that also include dance numbers. The films include Dayavan, Tridev, Parinda, Khel, Sangeet, Zindagi Ek Juaa, Sahibaan, Khilaaf, Anjaam, Rajkumar, Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan and others.

While wishing the actress on her birthday, here’s a list of 12 chartbusters that have been filmed on her, which inspired not just her composers and lyricists but also singers and choreographers to do their very best.

Ek do teen char —Tezaab (Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Javed Akhtar)

The iconic and historic song that launched Madhuri’s superstar innings as much as the parent N. Chandra film, it is regarded as one of the five greatest chartbusters in film music history. The song was inspired by a folk rhythm. After hearing the song, hero Anil Kapoor got such a complex that he insisted on his version in the film!

One two ka four—Ram Lakhan (Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Anand Bakshi)

While the Lata Mangeshkar stunner Ho Ramji bada dukh deena was also a huge hit and won an award for the Best Classical Music-based song of that year, it was this song that topped the countdown. It has even become Anil Kapoor’s signature tune.

Mujhe neend na aaye—Dil (Anand-Milind / Sameer)

The supreme hit in almost an all-popular score, this duet was among the few songs that became what we now call viral that year.

Humko aaj kal hai intezaar—Sailaab (Bappi Lahiri / Javed Akhtar)

The film did not work, but singer Anupama Deshpande scored in this koligeet (Marathi fisher-folk music)-based song whose choreography was a delight along with Madhuri’s moves.

Dekha hai pehli baar—Saajan (Nadeem-Shravan / Sameer)

The all-popular score was all about Nadeem-Shravan, super-charged with Aashiqui’s success, being inspired by the combination of a Maine Pyar Kiya-fresh Salman-S.P. Balasubramaniam team as much as by a Tezaab-Ram Lakhan-Dil-hot Madhuri.

Dhak dhak karne lagaa—Beta (Anand-Milind / Sameer)

The Ilaiyaraja-inspired chartbuster remains an evergreen three decades later.

Choli ke peeche—Khal- Nayak (Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Anand Bakshi)

Subhash Ghai rightly scoffed at the hyped allegation of obscenity, stating that this countdowns (four by then—one on radio and three on television channels!) topper was sung by top female singers, choreographed by Saroj Khan, the biggest name then, and enacted by Madhuri, no less. It was also the song that A.R. Rahman declared as one that epitomized the 1990s and inspired his Ringa ringa from Slumdog Millionaire.

Didi tera devar deewana—Hum Aapke Hain Koun!… (Raamlaxman-Dev Kohli)

The song has crossed the boundaries of film music and gone into folk already as a must-have feature at weddings.

Ankhiyan milaaoon—Raja (Nadeem-Shravan / Sameer)

Inspired from a Western song, this number and its beats became an anthem in those days. The movie was filmmaker Indra Kumar’s hat-trick of musical hits with Madhuri.

Mera piya ghar aaya—Yaraana (Anu Malik / Maya Govind)

Inspired by a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan qawwali, this song nevertheless captured the imagination of listeners.

Bholi si soorat—Dil To Pagal Hai (Uttam Singh / Anand Bakshi)

Among the all-popular score of this hit romance, this song probably outclassed the rest in popularity.

Dola re dola—Devdas (Ismail Darbar-Nusrat Badr)

A song still cherished 20 years down, this on-screen Madhuri-Aishwarya Rai (now Bachchan) dance competition marked a heady and very Indian number that showed Madhuri’s supreme talent as dancer and actress.






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