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Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon

70 mm dreams always die hard

Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon
Starring: Antara Mali, Rajpal Yadav, Reeta Bhaduri, Sudhir Pandey
Director: Chandan Arora
Rating: **

At a time when Hindi cinema seems to have lost its sense of connect with small-town audiences comes Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon. It's set in the north Indian town of Gajraula, where people still like their tea in earthen kulhars instead of the omnipresent plastic cups and are enthralled by the movies unspooling on a makeshift white curtain. In reality, perhaps, the Indian small-towners nowadays prefer watching pirated vhs of films in shanty parlours. Or just give the movies a skip for television. While the old cinema experience might be on its last leg in the interiors, the glamour of stars hasn't quite withered. Madhuri Dixit... celebrates this magnetism through the story of one fan of La Dixit, Chutki (Mali), who wants to travel to Mumbai to realise her own dreams of becoming a heroine.

Nothing new. But what differentiates Main Madhuri Dixit... is the treatment. It may concern a small town, the narration though isn't that of a conventional Hindi film. It's structured more like a feelgood, Hollywood musical where Gajraula is a colourful, romanticised and terribly joyous space. The bright colours of the salwar kameezes and the ribbons and clips of Chutki, the musical interludes, like the one in the village mart, or the impromptu Maar daala at the screening of Devdas, all this makes up for some gentle fun, sweet smiles and warmth. But in the thick of all this is also the unconventional relationship of Chutki and Rajaram (an immensely likeable Yadav) whom she marries so that he'd help her move to Mumbai and becomes her friend, confidant and supporter.

Sadly, the filmmaker doesn't try and recreate Mumbai as a hyper-real entity. Once Chutki arrives in the big city, reality steps into the cinematic frame and with it so do the cliches about it: the overwhelming crowds, the crook taxi driver, the exploitative wannabe star Romi Saab, the plight of junior artistes, the rabid agent and the mod makeover. And, most of all, the cruel jibes of the viewers in a near-empty theatre. The film portrays the worst nightmare of any filmmaker. But just when you thought it was propagating the same old ideology, the finale is a refreshing touch of irony and optimism. Chutki's film's actually a hit and Rajaram coaxes her to head back to Mumbai. Again. After all, 70 mm dreams always die hard.

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1. Baghban
2. Koi Mil Gaya
3. Zameen
4. Samay
5. Main Madhuri Dixit...

Courtesy: Film Information

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