Mad About Madhuri

Madhuri Dixit and MBJ spend a little quiet time together.

I admit it. I love Hindi films. Not everything about them, mind you; nor all of them. I love the music, the dancing, and the silliness. If those elements are well taken care of, I can easily forgive what tends to pass for plot, dialogue, and acting.

Since the dance and music makes-or-breaks a Bollywood film for me, it can come as no surprise that I’m a big Madhuri Dixit fan. No one dances like Madhuri. She evokes classical discipline and idiom, while projecting a hip, sexually explosive athleticism. Her movement is always effortless-seeming, balanced, grounded, and flowing. This utter lack of strain permits her to remain engaged with the camera as an actor, even while in the midst of the most intricate, rapid, demanding dance sequences. And she has the most naturally expressive hands since Margo Fonteyn.

Before her retirement to marry and have children in 2002, Madhuri occupied that awkward, transitional, late adolescent period of Hindi films when item numbers (as the dance segments are called) were in the last stage of morphing from the chaste, dance-around-a-tree-thing to the pop, hip-grinding, highly sexualized choreography that titillates the otherwise repressed, prudish audiences (while not alarming the film board censors). She was just what choreographers needed most: a gorgeous leading lady and stylish dancer, exuding smoldering eroticism while operating within the bounds of taste and refinement.

Aaja Nachle Ad

As the ads say: Madhuri Dixit is Back!

So it was with tremendous anticipation and high expectations that my friends and I went to see Aaja Nachle (“Let’s Dance”), Madhuri’s recently released comeback film, while passing through Kolkata on vacation last week. (Sadly, we don’t get any Hindi films in Pondicherry; only Tamil.)

The film was exactly as expected: execrable, but for the magical moves of Madhuri — balancing out to a wonderful night at the movies.

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