There is no doubt that Madhuri Dixit-Nene is one of the most versatile actresses of her times. She didn’t always choose the best scripts, but nobody can fault her when it comes to stealing the show in crucial scenes, with her sheer screen presence and undeniable acting prowess. From drama and romance to comedy - there was nothing Madhuri couldn’t ace.
On her 52nd birthday, we revisit some of her most iconic scenes to date.
1. Tezaab (1988)
Tezaab was the film that turned Madhuri Dixit into the next big thing of Bollywood. Apart from her dancing skills in ‘Ek Do Teen’, what helped make her an overnight star, was her confident performance as Mohini, especially in the dramatic scenes.
One of the crucial scenes in the film was when her character, who has been exploited by her drunkard father throughout her life, gives it back to him, stands up for the man she loves.
2. Dil (1990)
When Madhuri's stubborn, feisty rich girl met an equally arrogant Aamir Khan, it created crackling chemistry on screen. Their cat-and-mouse game goes too far when Madhuri accuses Aamir of sexually assaulting her. The scene where Madhuri realises her mistake is the turning point in the love story and much of the reason why that sequence is convincing, despite being over the top, is because of Madhuri's assured portrayal of fear and guilt.
3. Prahaar: The Final Attack (1991)
Madhuri had very few scenes in this film, which revolved around Nana Patekar’s character. But whenever she came on screen, she lit it up as the hot-headed, loud girl who hates to see her fiance, an army man, leave home to fulfil his duties, for the fear of losing him. She also played transformation from feisty to sombre with finesse.
4. Beta (1992)
Beta is full of Madhuri and Aruna Irani's face off scenes. Madhuri's witty repartee and tricks to handle the manipulative mother-in-law (Aruna), who has been using her stepson Anil Kapoor as a puppet, were the highlight of the film. But the scene where Madhuri shone brightest was when the people of the village are publicly cursing her for spending the night with a stranger despite being engaged to get married is one for keeps.
Madhuri’s character is not someone to take the insults lying down. She picks up a sickle to defend Anil, and gives the gaonwalas a piece of her mind.
5. Anjaam (1994)
Shah Rukh Khan, who plays an unapologetic sociopath obsessed with Madhuri's character, can go to any lengths to win her affections. He even murders her husband to get her. In the last scene, just when you think Madhuri has finally accepted SRK’s love, she stabs him to death. After portraying the vulnerabilities through the film, Madhuri adds tons of fire to her performance towards the end, especially in this scene.
6. Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! (1994)
For Madhuri, who had played a lot more complicated characters before, Hum Aapke Hain Koun’s Nisha may have been quite an easy breezy part. The important part of playing Nisha was to make the audience fall in love with her. Madhuri's affable smile and carefree ways made her a very loveable character. Nisha was always up to mischief and her playful moments with Prem added tons of joy to the film. Who can forget her turban-clad ‘Ohoo Ohoo’ entry in the film?
7. Raja (1995)
Raja (which marked the debut of Sanjay Kapoor in the title role) was a flop, but it did contain some of the most hilarious moments featuring Madhuri. She was carrying the film on her shoulders and when it came out, many felt that the film should have been titled Rani and not Raja! This film is full of some of the most ridiculously funny scenes where Madhuri shows off her impeccable comic timing and expressions.
8. Mrityudand (1997)
In this Prakash Jha film, Madhuri plays the role of Ketki, who has to go down a path of bloody struggle to confront the oppression from the village’s powerful people and the intrinsic male domination. But before that, she has to deal with her own husband’s spiral down a dark path.
9. Dil To Pagal Hai (1997)
Yash Chopra’s Dil To Pagal Hai is an escapist romance where the leading lady, played by Madhuri, believes ‘someone somewhere is made for you’. And Rahul (SRK) believes she is his dream girl with ‘Bholi Si Surat’. Dressed in white in many of the scenes, Madhuri looked gorgeous and created memorable chemistry with Shah Rukh. The ‘thoda aur paas scene’ is the most romantic and sensuous one of the film.
10. Pukar (2000)
Madhuri Dixit plays a heartbroken lover who decides to take revenge on the man (Anil Kapoor) who rejected her. Portraying a flawed character steeped in jealousy and obsessiveness, yet showing vulnerability is something very few actors can achieve, and Madhuri is one of them.
11. Lajja (2001)
Madhuri really showed how she can go from zero to 100 in just moments in one of the most iconic scenes of this Raj Kumar Santoshi film. While playing the character of Sita on stage, Janki (Madhuri), snaps when asked by Ram (who is her real-life lover too) to go through an agni pariksha to prove her character. Janki goes from asking for sympathy to anger over the double standards of society when it came to women. She questions Ram’s decision and morality and position of women in society, batting for women empowerment.
12. Devdas (2002)
The grace, love and beauty with which Madhuri played Paro will remain etched in cinematic history. She sets the mood from the moment she makes her entry. Who can forget the moment when she turns as her eyes fall on Devdas for the first time and her hair hits the mirror behind her, breaking it into pieces with Devdas’ broken reflection in it? It’s artistic license, but Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s depiction made it one of her most iconic scenes.
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