Madhuri Dixit long back paved way for body positivity and sensuality.
A gem of a folk song from the 1993 blockbuster Khalnayak is ingrained in the DNA of all children and adults who had started to like the new entry of television into their life and shows like Superhit Muqabla every Sunday night 9.30pm (primetime those days) on DD Metro hosted by a few including Baba Sehgal. This show was tuned in by all of the family and the coundown of popular filmy songs was by heart on every school kid.
These names might be alien to many but they defined my childhood. So in 1993 I was in my 1st standard. One afternoon in 1991 as a small child I had the privilege to witness Madhuri Dixit dancing in the streets of D N Nagar to a Ganpati song shooting for her upcoming film. By then Dil movie had just been a favorite of us childhood buddies and that time witnessing a star and collecting their autograph was what people did.
When this song, Choli ke peeche kya hai came out, it caused a sensation all over the country. With children being scolded to even sing this catchy number, not being allowed to watch it on TV when it came. I had my parents telling me this is not for you. But the mesmerizing and addictive song that this is, it had made way into our system. Humming..’kuk, kuk..’ would invite glaring eyes of judgement. While many teenagers got a chance to actually ask the most stirring thing Indians have ever known.. whats the behind the blouse? We have always been a boob crazy nation, not to forget we love thumkas, navel,thundering thighs and even armpits.
I was kept away from watching this song. Never got to see the movie. But I kept humming the song. Now let me tell you what is this song for me? The raw beats of matka and sticks is a delight to the heartbeat coupled with flute notes and the vocals of kuk kuk. Isn’t it marvelous how amazing this song is? Madhuri Dixit’s dancing and her expressions are something no item number today can ever match.
I saw this song delighfully after many years knowing that we now sit with family in a family restaurant playing todays’ item numbers on a screen with crass lyrics, women that hardly look like women and dancing that will make aliens wonder which drug we are on. I really miss the 90s and it is an understatement.
The 90s were pure gold. They also gave you glimpse into how we Indians are culturally. The South industry had totally different yet melodious tunes and their visuals were quite unique. Shapely curvy women doing dance that only a Goddess can do, their legs, their navel, their eyes, dusky polished skin and the way they held their men.. Its a trip into a different world altogether.
We would know looking at a song which state it comes from.
Like this one below is also my all time favorite. The vocals will haunt you forever. Even as a child, I knew it was from a South Indian movie.
When Choli ke Peeche came out, I was already a huge fan of Ila Arun. She was someone who was so bold in her songs and videos, she has shown a self pleasuring moment with full raw vocals early in 1990-91 picturised on a young Malaika Arora who is not 10% recognisable of what she is today way before Vidya Balan did something similar in The Dirty Picture.
Sensuality is an art. And it is something that will command your appreciation. Its almost a mirror into your soul and those who feel ashamed of it or try to subdue it are the ones who do not want to acknowledge their presence within.
Let me come back to Madhuri Dixit – Watch this song and watch her dance. No six pack abs, she has her tummy rolls rhythmically moving to her thumkas at entry. She looks like a doll with the striking local accessories from Rajasthan. She was a full figured woman whose expressions and dance at the right beat was more celebratory than whether she was in shape. And that is what I loved about her. This was all a magic of Saroj Khan who choreographed most songs back then and she did what no choreographer today will be able to do.
When she is on one leg letting her ghagra fly rhythmically to the lines.. ‘Resham ka lehenga mera, resham ka lehenga’.. I would want that same effect of that ghagra so my grandfather used his broad leather belt and tied up my mother’s blue chiffon saree to my waist so it flowed freely till my knees. I fell a couple of times trying to get that one leg move seamlessly till she does in the song while making sure my saree was popping up right. This was in a one room kitchen in Dadar when I was 6 in front of a mirror on our cupboard next to the kitchen while everyone at home went about their duties. I wonder how easily I danced and did not bother about anyone. I am equally surprised that no one stopped me.
There is a lot to thank Madhuri for. She taught that you could be graceful, sweet, sexy, act and dance at the same time. She is the only actress I can think of who, when mentioning the position of ‘Dil’ in a song touches her hand gracefully to the center of her chest instead of touching it at her thyroid like other actresses of her time or even later. This is how you love yourself in short.
She still makes me proud today as I fight the pressures of the world to be a certain weight, look a certain way, that my chest is too heavy and I look big in my pictures. I love it all. Can you kick your leg in circular movements in the air and let your ghagra fly. I can do that.