'I Was Surprised That Juhi Signed This Film' - The New Indian Express

'I Was Surprised That Juhi Signed This Film'

Published: 03rd March 2014 12:00 PM

Last Updated: 03rd March 2014 04:36 PM

Juhi Chawla and Madhuri Dixit in Gullab Gang.
She’s done more than 70 films over three decades, but Madhuri Dixit’s almost childlike enthusiasm for her work is infectious. The 46-year-old has been on a promotional spree—mouthing dialogues from Gulaab Gang and singing Rangi saari gulaabi, a song from the film that’s sung by her and her mother Snehlata Dixit. “This is such an important film in light of what’s happening around us,” says Madhuri.

The promos of Gulaab Gang might have reminded Madhuri fans of Mrityudand, but the actress doesn’t agree. “There is a world of a difference between the two. Ketki was a very innocent and educated girl, who is married into a feudal home. Through the journey of the film, she stops being a victim and finds her inner strength and shoots the perpetrator. But Gulab Gang starts where Mrityudand ends. Rajjo is an empowered woman. Gulaab Gang is her journey as an activist helping empower those around her.” 

Gulaab Gang has been in the news not just because of its subject but also its casting that brought together two ‘rivals’—Juhi Chawla and Madhuri. Not having known Juhi personally, Madhuri was surprised by her contemporary. “I was surprised that she signed this film. I always thought that Juhi is someone who likes being in her comfort zone. Her role in this film couldn’t be further from her comfort zone. So, when I was told she was signed to play Sumitra Devi, I was pleasantly surprised. It takes courage to go into a mindspace you are not comfortable in. It’s terrifying to go into an unknown space, to take a risk and Juhi didn’t need to do that. But she did and I am happy for her.”

Though her character in the film Rajjo is not above using violence when it comes to fighting injustice, Madhuri personally believes it’s time for society to change. “Punishment or self-defence are external factors. The only way to actually make a change is to educate our boys. Teach them to respect. Men have to rethink their priorities. They need to be wired in a different way. Education is the key.”

And, while she waits for the world to change for the better, Madhuri has armed herself with some deadly skills. While in Denver, the Nene-Dixit clan would go for family Taekwondo lessons. “Initially, I just used to take my kids and wait for them to finish their class. One day, I realised why am I sitting and watching and not learning myself. So, we took taekwondo classes as a family. I have a Senior Blue Belt which is five steps away from Black Belt. In this day and age, it’s important for everyone to know the basics of self-defence.”

It’s been a little more than two years since Madhuri returned to Mumbai and she is glad she made the move. “It was really tough for me to stay away from my kids for four months at a stretch when I was doing Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. Travelling back and forth between India and the US wasn’t easy. Also, my parents were getting old and they wanted to move back to India. I am glad we moved back when we did because my dad passed away last year. He got to stay in his own country before he passed away. Also, there are things I wanted to do and I have a better infrastructure here to make my plans a reality. Like my dance academy helps me touch a million lives. Living in Denver, I could have continued living my life but moving here means that I can give back.”

While Madhuri is back in the thick of things with movies and endorsements, her family has settled in. “Ryan and Arin love their school, so that’s half the battle won,” she says with a laugh, adding, “they have friends in the building who drop in any time. In Denver, they couldn’t play with their friends everyday; we had to schedule play time with their friends there.” Madhuri’s husband Dr Nene is ‘currently creating systems to bridge gaps between patients and doctors’. “His attempt is to make patients more aware and doctors manage their work load better. This system would take about two years to be put in place,” she says.

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