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regular-article-logo Thursday, 23 May 2024

Second Season

Four decades after her debut in Hero, Meenakshi Seshadri will be back as a celebrity face in the next few months

Bharathi S. Pradhan Published 05.03.23, 02:54 AM
Meenakshi Seshadri

Meenakshi Seshadri File Picture

Forty years after the release of his debut film, Jackie Shroff continues to be a celebrity who pops up on the screen off and on, his appearance always eliciting a smile of familiarity. But the leading lady of Hero (1983) wrapped up from Mumbai in 1995, moving to Texas in the US to focus on marriage, children and dance. Two generations of the film-going audience wouldn’t recognise her today. Maybe that will work for her as the whisper is that Meenakshi Seshadri wants to make a fresh start here.

Towards the end of 2022, Meenakshi returned to Mumbai and, if the buzz is to be believed, auditions and meetings with production houses are in full swing. Like Madhuri Dixit, Meenakshi’s marriage to investment banker Harish Mysore stays intact. He continues to work in the US and so do their two grownup children, all of them supporting her desire to explore acting options once again.

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Well maintained and slim, in her favour is that she too is an accomplished dancer who ran a dance academy in Texas, never losing touch with her craft. Web series, reality dance shows, films, she’ll make a good fit anywhere. So 40 years after her debut in Hero, Meenakshi will be back as a celebrity face in the next few months.

“Look who’s back” is the new trend.

Actresses who quit have returned. Though not all of them have been able to take off from where they left.

Twelve years after marriage, Dimple Kapadia did it successfully with Saagar (1985), never brilliant but acceptable as a heroine. It’s only in recent times that she is slowly acquiring the stature of a senior actress with a screen presence.

Mumtaz, who left at the peak of her career in 1974 and moved to London, attempted a one-off film in 1990. With Shatrughan Sinha doing a brief role as her politician husband in Pahlaj Nihalani’s Aandhiyaan, Mumtaz worked with the full support of millionaire husband Mayur Madhvani. But neither the film nor her outdated 70s’ style acting was received well and it was back to London for Mumtaz.

It was around this time that Randhir Kapoor wisecracked that Mumtaz’s disastrous comeback had dented the equity of two Kapoor bahus, Babita and Neetu. Both had given up career for marriage to a Kapoor, and young, retired actresses enjoyed the equity of a bandh mutthi (closed fist) that could spring a surprise any day. But Mumtaz’s failure had brought down their market. He was right because decades later, Neetu’s return hasn’t exactly been exhilarating. Insiders say she, who was renowned for her spontaneity, was uncharacteristically nervous during Jugjugg Jeeyo (2022) and delivered dialogues like a student memorising her elocution lines.

Babita, known more for glamour than heartfelt acting, wisely stayed out, getting her fill through her daughters.

Mumtaz’s story repeated itself when Madhuri Dixit, who quit in 1999, attempted a comeback with Aaja Nachle (2007) and the matchmaking reality show Kahin Na Kahin Koyi Hai. Much like Mumtaz, it wasn’t just the failure of the film and the show but Madhuri herself, with her outdated wardrobe and a last season style of acting, who couldn’t re-create the dhakdhak she’d left behind. But 25 years into her career, when Madhuri relocated to Mumbai in 2011, she could somewhat pick up the pieces. Many attempts like Dedh Ishqiya, Gulaab Gang, Kalank, Maja Ma and Bucket List (Marathi) fell. But her energetic Ghagra dance with Ranbir Kapoor in Yeh Jawaaani Hai Deewani, reality shows like Jhalak Dikhla Ja and films like Total Dhamaal were successful. However, the biggest hurdle in showcasing versatility is Madhuri’s obsession to look eternally youthful and glamorous.

That’s where Sridevi scored highest when she happily went dowdy and Plain Jane as the housewife and be credible in English Vinglish (2012). An electrifying comeback was followed by another faultless performance in Mom (2017). Wardrobe, makeup, acting style, all rebooted and updated. It’s tragic that she passed on so abruptly barely six months later. Or else, in the last five years, she would’ve been at the top of the comeback heap.

Bharathi S. Pradhan is a senior journalist and author

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