Madhuri Dixit returns as judge to celebrity dance show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa for the fourth consecutive season. A t2 chat with the still-gorgeous mother of two who made her comeback in films earlier this year.
It’s that time of the year again when we get to see you every weekend on our television screens…
Yes, I always look forward to Jhalak. Apart from acting, dancing has always been a passion for me. I have been associated with dance through the years, primarily through my films, but I think with Jhalak that passion has reached a peak. I really enjoy myself on this show… I have been judging it for longer than I can remember. The beauty of Jhalak is that I never get tired of it. We shoot from early morning till late night… sometimes the wait is endless and I have to sit in my vanity (van) with my make-up and my hair and wait to be called for a shot, but I feel that at the end of it, it’s all worth it. It’s been a beautiful journey so far. Jhalak has given me recognition among an all-new audience. There will be people who will definitely come up and talk to me about my films, my songs and my dance, but they will also tell me: ‘We loved that dance step you did on Jhalak… we loved that outfit you had on Jhalak…. (smiles).
What can we expect from Jhalak and Madhuri this season?
Oh, lots of things! This time, we will be tougher, we will be sterner. In the sense, we are not going to insult them! (Laughs the Madhuri laugh) But the marks will tell the contestants whether they are doing well or not. The judges will make it tougher for the contestants this time around. The format also has a lot of twists and turns. We will also have a lot of international experts and dancers on the show. Like there is this choreographer from Russia called Alina… then there will also be a dancer from Ukraine called Maksim (Chmerkovskiy) who will join us on the judges’ panel. He knows a lot of these Western dance forms much more intimately than we do. We also have interesting things like a ‘Lie--meter’ (laughs) that will buzz every time the audience feels the judges are being too diplomatic (laughs). There will be stuff like changing choreographers suddenly to keep it more challenging for the contestant… so ya, lots of fun things this season.
Considering the format of the show essentially remains the same season on season, how do you, as a judge, try and keep it fresh for the audience?
Yes, that’s a challenge. But I like the fact that the show keeps me on my toes. I am constantly thinking of ways and means to make my time on the show worthwhile for myself and for the audience. Because at the end of the day, that’s what we work for… that the audience should love what we do and appreciate how hard we work to put up every episode. This season, I am looking to dance a lot more myself… maybe try out one new Western dance form in every episode. (Co-judges) Remo (D’Souza), Karan (Johar) and I also keep discussing how we can liven up the show and keep the audience and the contestants guessing. Karan is the most flamboyant among the three of us and this time he has this unique concept of gifting a pair of golden shoes to the contestant who manages to impress him the most this season. And Remo has a surprise up his sleeve too (smiles).
When it comes to Bollywood dance, you have been the benchmark. How has Madhuri Dixit the dancer been enriched through these years judging Jhalak?
Oh, you can’t believe how much I have learnt all these years. I have had my training in Bharatanatyam and Kathak and all through my years in films, I have done Bollywood dance and continue to do so, but on Jhalak I have been introduced to a lot of classic Western dance forms, many of which I had no idea even existed! (Laughs) Even this season, there will be new dance forms called Bolero and Capoeira… I am not even sure whether I am pronouncing them right! (Laughs the Madhuri laugh)
Coming to films, has it been overwhelming having two releases in two months with Dedh Ishqiya and Gulaab Gang?
(Laughs) Yeah, they came quite close, didn’t they? But I had a lot of fun… to not have a release in such a long time and then to have two back-to-back releases in two months, was overwhelming as well as deeply satisfying. Not only did I enjoy playing the characters of Begum Para (in Dedh Ishqiya) and Rajjo (in Gulaab Gang), but the whole process of promoting these films and travelling all over the country was enriching.
Both these films didn’t do well commercially. How much does box office affect you at this stage of your career?
See, you always like it if your films make money… the whole process of making a film is to ensure that it remains economically feasible for everyone involved. But having said that, I am just enjoying my time during this phase. Both with Dedh Ishqiya and Gulaab Gang, I got the chance to work with new directors like Abhishek Chaubey and Soumik Sen. In Gulaab Gang, I got the opportunity to share screen space with Juhi (Chawla), something that had never happened in the earlier phase of our careers. So, I feel, that both these films have been significant steps in my career, irrespective of box office.
Do you see the Madhuri of 20 years ago in any of the actresses today?
There are all so good! They are all so professional and confident. Not that we weren’t (laughs), but these days, these girls have so much support and guidance from within the industry and outside. During my time, we had to depend a lot on gut feel when it came to choosing films. I like Deepika (Padukone) a lot… in the last one year, she’s really turned around her career. Then there is Anushka (Sharma)… she has a certain spunk that I really like.
You recently tweeted that your song Ghagra from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani completed a year…
Yes, it’s been a year already, would you believe that? It just seems like yesterday when Ranbir (Kapoor) and I shot for the song. Ghagra still continues to be very popular and I feel it’s a song that has a certain timeless quality to it. Plus, that number is special to me because that’s the first time my sons (Arin and Ryan) came on set while I was shooting. They were so excited!
Do they show as much interest in dance as their mom?
For now, they enjoying watching me dance. We will have to see whether they become as passionate about it as I am. That’s still a couple of years away (laughs).
Is Madhuri still the best dancer in Bollywood? Tell [email protected]
Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa premieres on June 7 on Colors and will air every Saturday and Sunday at 9pm