At 43, Madhuri still casts a spell
New Delhi: You can`t be in showbiz and not be visible - but that doesn`t apply to Madhuri Dixit. If she ruled the box office in her prime, the soaring TRPs of `Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa` now prove she is equally saleable when she is a mother of two and spends much of her time being a homemaker in the US.
"We had been trying to get Madhuri as a judge for the past two seasons. She has been known as a dancing diva and who better could we have got for a show which is all about perfect dancing," Ajay Bhalwankar, programming head, Sony, told IANS.
"She has added a lot of freshness to the show and she is an extremely honest judge. In all our four seasons, this season has been the highest TRP earner thanks to Madhuri," he added.
Madhuri`s India sojourn is coming to an end with the "Jhalak..." finale set to take place in the first week of March. But her stay has proved that the graceful actor`s charm hasn`t faded even after 25 years, marriage and a sabbatical.
Ever since she set foot again in India in November last year, she has been hogging the limelight.
The 43-year-old broke many hearts when she tied the knot in 2002 with Shriram Madhav Nene, a doctor based out in Denver, US. Post- marriage, Madhuri featured only in "Aaja Nachle" because she got busy with family and children.
The beautiful actress was after all a rage in Bollywood. Despite her garish clothes and loud makeup, the trained kathak dancer lit up the screen with her million-dollar smile, dance and her performances in "Tezaab", "Ram Lakhan", "Sajan", "Beta", "Dil" and many more.
When Rajshri Productions, which had launched her in 1984 with "Abodh", teamed up with Madhuri a decade later in "Hum Aapke Hain Koun!", they created history by giving Hindi cinema one of its biggest grossers. The audiences lapped up the movie, which ran about a year and earned over Rs.600 million.
Another turning point in Madhuri`s career was when Yash Chopra roped her in for "Dil Toh Pagal Hai" and paired her with the king of romance, Shah Rukh Khan. The dream merchant gave her a makeover, presenting her in a stylish manner. The love saga was a box- office bumper and the lead pair repeated the success story with "Devdas".
In 2000, the multiple award-winner became the actress of the millennium. And the Madhuri magic hasn`t faded even now.
Rani Mukerji, a successful actress herself, surprised everyone when she lay prostrate before Madhuri on "Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 4" to show her love and admiration for the diva.
And Priyanka Chopra paid a glowing tribute to her at the Filmfare Awards.
Ravina Kohli, creative head of Yash Raj Films TV, said: "Madhuri definitely has an undying charm. Even after being in the industry for so many years, all she has to do is smile and she takes us back to the same time when she was the number one in Bollywood. This charm of hers will never go because her smile adds a lovely warmth to her personality."
There are many who still want to work with her. From her co-star of many films Anil Kapoor to southern superstar Rajnikanth, she has got offers for movies from many and even shot a commercial for Hindustan Lever.
There was a black patch when Madhuri landed in tax trouble after her name was found in Chitresh Shrivastava`s record for a Rs.3-million payment. But it failed to diminish the Madhuri aura.
"She is a a very down-to-earth lady and a great actor to work with. She is very honest. She is the most beautiful actress. She respects those who are good at their work," said makeup artist Bharat, of Bharat and Dorris, who is working with her for a Basmati Rice ad.
Mona Singh, the "Jhalak..." co-anchor, told IANS: "I have hosted a lot of shows before...but this season of `Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa` is like a dream come true. I was super nervous when I had to face the camera in front of her...but her presence is comforting as she is very encouraging.
"She is a big star, but was humble enough to tell me that she had seen `Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin` and that she likes me since then."