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Long before she became Madhuri Dixit Nene, she was one of the biggest female stars to come out of Bollywood, often being compared to the late Sridevi in their acting and dance skills. As Dixit Nene turns 54 on May 15, we take a look at some of her most iconic dance numbers that continue to entice fans even today.
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‘Ek Do Teen’ (‘Tezaab’): It’s no secret that Saroj Khan brought out the best in Madhuri Dixit. According to director N Chandra, the dup rehearsed for 16 days for the song, which was filmed over a week. On the last day, they pulled in a 24-hour shift. But their hard work seems to have paid off. This song, where Dixit’s character Mohini dances on stage in front of a raucous crowd, became a turning point for her. “The ‘Ek Do Teen’ song turned the tables for me. Every producer wanted me to do a dance number in his or her film… We were shooting a song for ‘Tridev’. There were three actresses including Sonam and me. Sonam was a bigger star and so, she was made to stand in the centre for half the song. But as soon as ‘Ek Do Teen’ became a hit, the producer changed our positions. I was in the centre,” said Dixit in the documentary, ‘The Saroj Khan Story’. Today, despite Jacqueline Fernandez repeating the moves for ‘Baaghi 2’, the song remains a trademark of Dixit’s alone.
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‘Dhak Dhak’ (‘Beta’): The song marked another collaboration between late choreographer Saroj Khan and Dixit. Filmed for the movie ‘Beta’, which starred Anil Kapoor in the lead, the ‘Dhak Dhak’ song and Dixit’s performance in the film had many jest the title should be changed to ‘Beti’ as a tribute to her powerhouse presence. While Dixit cemented her title as Bollywood’s Dancing Queen with this track, interestingly, the tune itself was sampled from the Telugu song ‘Abbani Teyyani Debba’, which was composed by Illaiyaraaja for the movie ‘Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari’ that featured Sridevi and Chiranjeevi in the lead. Sridevi was offered the lead in ‘Beta’ as well, but declined the offer.
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‘Humko Aajkal Hain’ (‘Sailaab’): Filmed in 1990, the song featured in the average entertainer ‘Sailaab’, which is now only remembered for this hit track choreographed by Saroj Khan, who won a Filmfare Award for the dance. Dixit exuded grace as a young fisherwoman who is revived and is awaiting the love of her life to come sweep her away. In a Facebook post, Dixit spoke about the track and how it was shot. “Saroj Ji was innately talented and so gifted as an artiste. Challenge her with any track and she will come up with sets that will leave you mesmerised. I remember we were shooting Hum ko aaj kal hai from Sailaab. The track was tricky as most of the lines were sung by the chorus. She just listened to it a few times and told me to use this to our advantage. She had it all figured out in a few minutes. I couldn’t help but ask, “Saroj ji, how do you come up with these ideas?” She smiled and said, “Never listen to music, you should feel the music.”
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‘Choli Ke Peeche’ (‘Khal Nayak’): The song was mired in controversies because of the lyrics much before anyone saw Dixit bring it alive in the film. Speaking to Spotboye about the track, Dixit said: “This is one song that needed a lot of dance rehearsals. It had traditional classical steps mixed with folk beats. Once we heard it, and we were hooked. The song got stuck a bit in controversies because of the words which were used in the lyrics. But when the movie came and people saw the song, it received so much appreciation that I can’t explain. People dance on that song even today.”
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‘Kay Sera Sera’ (‘Pukar’): In the song, Dixit and Prabhu Deva danced together for the first time. In her own words, in the ‘making of’ documentary of the song, the actress said she was quite apprehensive to film the track. “I was very nervous because Prabhuji’s style of dancing is very different and I’m used to a different style of dancing ...” Deva was called the Michael Jackson of India and Dixit was a trained classical dancer. The duo had to find some middle ground to get the moves just right. In a 2000 interview with Rediff, Dixit said it was producer Boney Kapoor’s idea to get Deva to dance to the beats with her. “The question was, ‘Who is going to do it to make it look different?’ I have worked with many choreographers, I have done a lot of songs, so this one had to be different; it had to grab people’s attention. It shouldn’t be like, ‘Awww, Madhuri has done that before.’ It had to look different. I think Boneyji hit upon this idea of asking Prabhu Deva to do it. It was very sweet of Prabhu Deva to agree. He has choreographed the song and danced in it himself and he done a brilliant job in the film.”
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‘Chane Ke Khet Mein’ (‘Anjaam’): Another Saroj Khan and Dixit collaboration that became iconic for its catchy folks beats and the latter’s hook step that is aped even today. Speaking to Spotboye about the track, Dixit shared some interesting trivia. “When I started working with director Rahul Rawail, he made me and Saroj Khan hear a song. Both, Saroj ji and I heard the song, and looked at each other. We both didn’t like the song that much. But who would say it to Rahul ji. After all, he had a reputation those days of being a very strict director. Finally, I told him that we weren’t enjoying the song that much. He was very sweet and readily agreed to do a different song. That song was ‘Chane Ke Khet Mein’. When we heard that song, both Saroj ji and I were happy as we knew this song was something that could be worked upon enthusiastically.”
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‘Tamma Tamma Loge’ (‘Thanedaar’): The song, which was pictured on Dixit and Sanjay Dutt, has remained a cult classic for decades. Despite Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt dancing to its remix in ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’, it comes nowhere close to Dixit and her iconic moves. Interestingly, choreographer Saroj Khan reportedly used Javed Jaffrey as a body double to Dutt who couldn’t dance to save his life. But all eyes remained on Dixit throughout the track. It is said that the famous chair sequence from the song was inspired from Janet Jackson’s ‘Miss You Too Much’. Irrespective, Dixit danced her heart out and it showed.
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‘Dola Re Dola’ (‘Devdas’): A lot was said about the song that was the jewel of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali doomed affair. Two dancing stars, Dixit and Aishwarya Rai, were going to perform together for the first time. Rai was the younger and more popular star at the time, while Dixit knew her craft and had years of experience. The magical number, which plays out in the film’s climax, was choreographed by Saroj Khan who had claimed it was one of the toughest songs she ever had to direct as both the leading ladies were such good dancers. The result is there for the world to see.
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