By Jyothi Venkatesh
Today, on May 15, two actors who celebrate their birthday are my friends, one with whom I am in touch right from the time he was struggling to make a name and even today when he has proved his worth as a popular TV serial director- Siddharth Nagar and the other one -Madhuri Dixit who I used to meet quite often right from the first time I had met her first during the press meet of Abodh at Hotel Natraj in town when she was struggling as well as the next time at the press show of Abodh at New Excelsior preview theater at Fort though sadly after she became a top star, we stopped meeting regularly. In fact, we hardly meet.
In those good old days in the late 80’s, when there was no system of publicists breathing down your neck cajoling you to interview an up and coming star or zealous publicists calling you to cover the shooting of their producers’ films , we journalists used to make it a point to drop in at the shoot of films in one of the several studios in Mumbai or just drop in at the house of the star for an impromptu interview, with no questions asked with star airs but with only sumptuous lunch thrown in for the visiting scribe.
The chemistry between Madhuri and I was bang on right at the first time when I met her at the press conference of Abodh and it only strengthened after I saw her at the press show at New Excelsior Theatre preview theatre. During those days, it was Madhuri herself who bothered to call me on my landline and asked me to drop in at her house at Andheri in J.B. Nagar to interview her for Star & Style, a prominent film fortnightly of those days. There was absolutely no mobile phone then whether with the star or for that matter the scribe.
Just when I was about to leave my house in Worli, the landline rang. It was Madhuri’s hairdresser who spoke to me from the landline at the Filmstan Studios to tell me that instead of her home, I had to go to Filmstan Studios at Goregaon for the interview as N.Chandra the director of Tezaab had all of a sudden organized a last minute patch work shoot for two hours with Madhuri and Anupam Kher and I reached Goregaon to interview her because I also had a deadline too meet with the magazine. Madhuri’s dad Shankar and mother Snehlata and sister Bharathi (see I remember their names till today) gave me company in her makeup room till the patch work shoot was over.
But today I am not writing about that interview but about her birthday because Madhuri Dixit is celebrating her birthday on May 15. Madhuri wanted to invite the entire film industry especially people with whom she had world to celebrate her birthday party in those days when there was no TV cameraman and hence she decided to call all the journalists for a birthday party a couple of days before that special party.
The day Madhuri was dancing to the song Ek Do Teen at the Mehboob Studios, both Chandra and Madhuri had called me to cover the shooting for Eknath Video for which I was working then and it was wonderful to see dance Master Saroj Khan directing the dance number on a make shift stage the whole day.
Madhuri had called me up to invite me for the party and I attended it but I was zapped when she called me up again after a couple of days only to tell me that she had planned to host a party for the film industry exactly on May 15 at Holiday Inn. When I told her that I had already attended her birthday a couple of days ago, she chided me and asked me whether I will not attend the party which she is hosting for the industry on May 15 just because I had already attended the party for journalists.
I was secretly happy as Madhuri had singled me out for the industry party to celebrate her birthday after having invited me for the customary party for the journalists just a day before and reached the venue on time and joined her parents, her sister, her brother and her secretary Riku. Madhuri arrived fashionable late for her birthday party an hour late and the celebrations started. My colleague Chaitanya Padukone also attended the party that day. She asked both of us to help Riku in looking after all her guests at the party who wondered what on earth were we doing at the party since it was supposed to be only for the film industry folks who she had worked with and not journalists.
It was around midnight and Madhuri whispered into my ears to stay back for an informal get together with her family and Riku after the party. I did and was privileged enough to have wine with Madhuri (that too after I had consumed one too many scotch at the arty earlier because I could not say no to her). The highlight of the party was Madhuri singing a favorite film song of hers after she insisted that I too sing a song. While I belted out the Tamil version of her Ek Do Teen Char which I had myself written and composed, with Chaitanya playing on the table, not table. It was 1 am by the time Madhuri sent me off till the gate after fondly giving me a peck on my cheek.
These days I hardly get an opportunity to meet Madhuri Dixit who has started her on line dance academy where she will be teaching dancing all through the lockdown, while I meet my friend Siddharth Nagar quite often though he is busy writing his next script for both Doordarshan National and DD Kisaan having directed over 3000 episodes of different shows besides a few films till date in a span of around 30 years. Though I am sad that the frequency of my meeting Madhuri is very less these days, at the grand premiere of her film Gulab Gang at the PVR theater a few years ago, in tow with her handsome doctor husband Dr Nene, though there were several in the crowd, she made it a point to wade through the crowds and introduce him to me.