Back then, I was working on ‘Tezaab‘ and had signed Anil Kapoor for the film but he was a very busy actor. Boney Kapoor, who used to look after his work back then, would tell me when he was free and I had to accommodate the shooting on those dates. Luckily for me, Rikku Rakeshnath was managing both Anil and Madhuri. I thought that if I take Madhuri, it will be easy for us as Rikkuji will adjust the dates of both actors. Our calculation worked out well and we managed to complete the film on time. Of course, I had a great financier Dinesh Gandhi who stood by me.
Madhuri was extremely hard working during the making of the film. I remember when I made her listen to ‘Ek Do Teen’ song, she felt that the song had the potential to become a big hit. She knew the song could be ground-breaking provided she learned the steps from Saroj Khan well. She said she wanted to own the song and managed it so well. She wanted the audience to feel the steps she did were her and not taught to her. She rehearsed for one month for the song which was like going an extra mile for your role.
I remember the day before we had to vacate the floor, we had to shoot nonstop for 25 hours. A lot of portions of the song were left and we had to leave the set. So, I went and told Madhuri about it. After that, she did not utter a word and completed the entire song in those last 25 hours of the schedule.
She is a very resilient, strong-willed woman. Unlike most actresses who remained aloof, Madhuri would spend time on sets and speak to all the crew members and co-stars. That is a sign of those who are going to rise high in their career. Madhuri had all the qualities of a superstar – understanding the role, by nature she was beautiful. You know the song left such a huge impact that a category of Best Choreography was created in award shows as that song forced them to start recognising songs.
What happened between Madhuri Dixit and Saroj Khan was more of a guru-shishya banter which was nice to see on the set. You Know Saroj ji was very possessive about her steps and wanted the artist to follow it to the T, that’s all. All technicians should have complete faith in their craft and should go all out for it and these qualities were there in both of them. ‘Tezaab’ was a collective effort. All of us gave our best to the film.
A lot of people get success but how you handle it further is critical, and for me, Madhuri is the best example of that. Going forward from ‘Tezaab’, there was not a single year for the next 10 years, that didn’t have a Madhuri Dixit song in the top ten list.
As for Madhuri Dixit not getting enough performance-oriented roles, I would say that, when you start working in a big setup that has big stars, it is a much riskier proposal. So, subject wise you take lesser risk. It is okay for art filmmakers as not much is at stake but in commercial films, there is a certain boundary in which the films are made and here I am not talking about Madhuri only — there is a trap in all big films and all actors have to go through that trap. And you know a superstar, after reaching a certain level, cannot do experimental roles. Their films need to cross a certain number in terms of business in the first week of its release and only subjects with mass appeal like broader emotions of love stories, action, comedy will get you those numbers.
You know when I told Rikkuji about ‘Wajood’ and that I wanted Madhuri to do it, he told me that she will definitely do it and that the story should be interesting. I gave her the narration and she did the film.