Madhuri Dixit had grown into a major star with just two films, Tezaab and Ram Lakhan, both with Anil Kapoor as her hero. She had a very insignificant start with a film called Maanav Hatya which exploited her young body and had and unknown actor called Shekhar Suman as her hero. The film which was directed by an assistant of filmmakers who generally made films laced with sex. Luckily for Madhuri the film could not be completed due to lack of funds and was released in its incomplete form on one of the most unknown channel after midnight.
The success of Madhuri who was my neighbour ever since she was born gave me a new high and I thought of an idea. I asked her if she was game to go back to her days when she was just an ordinary girl called Madhuri Dixit. She immediately agreed and arranged for a second hand black Fiat to go around her favourite places. We started our day in the one room flat of the Dixit’s in a building called ”Krishna Kunj” in J.B.Nagar, Andheri east. Her mother had prepared two of her popular dishes for breakfast, ”pohe” and ”upma”. We had our fill, round two steel glasses of tea and she was all excited and asked me, ”From where should we starts?” And answered her question herself. She said, ”She would like to first stop ”Choice Centre” her family favourite department store. She seemed to be a favourite of all the men working there. They were thrilled to see ”hamari laadli Madhuri” who had now become such a big star but had not forgotten them. Madhuri knew all of them by their names and asked them about their welfare and also about their families. The owner of the ”Centre” was so happy that he called all his friends from the neighbouring shops and said, ”Dekho dekho hamari Madhuri humko bhooli nahi hain, humko dekhne aayee hain, itni badi star hone ke baad bhi.” Madhuri spent more than half an hour even went around the ”Centre” and showed me her favourite place, the chocolate centre. ”It was a luxury for my family and we could indulge in them only during our birthdays and on feast days like Diwali and even Christmas and Easter. I studied in a convent school where it was a custom to distribute sweet on your birthday and you were look down upon if didn’t and were called kanjoos without knowing the reality of our economic situation,” Madhuri said before she wished all the men in the different shops good bye and we left in her black Fiat of which she was very proud. On our way she told me that her father was once a very big engineer and had three cars but his own brothers had cheated him and left him bankrupt and that is how he had landed in that one room flat for which had to pay hundred rupees a month as a rent.
She forgot her seriousness when the Fiat approached her school which was just a few kilometers away from her house. Her two older sisters had also studied in the same school known as Divine Child High School. She asked the driver to take the car inside the compound and was welcomed by the watchman and the drivers of the school busses and other servants working for the schools. She headed for the cabin of the Principal, Sr .Geneveive who was her principal and was still the principal of the school. The principal was overjoyed when she saw Madhuri and called all the nuns and teachers and told them about what she had said about Madhuri when she was in school. She had predicted a very bright future for Madhuri who was the best student of the school for several years because she was outstanding in her studies, was a very good athlete and the best dancer the school had ever seen. Madhuri made it a point to meet all the female servants who had taken very good care of her from the time she was in the KG class. They were thrilled and were doubly excited when my photographer, the late Mr. Vinayak Gokhale asked them all to stand with Madhuri and clicked their picture which was published in ”Screen” and I made it a point to show the published photograph to them when the issue of ”Screen” was out. He showed me one particular corner under a mango tree which he said was the popular gossip centre of all the girls when they had grown up and had seen and experience the world. ”Gossip was a very important part of our lives in school and our favourite subject were our friends and sometimes even the features, the nuns and even the principal,” Madhuri said.
She than wanted to go to her college, Parle College were her sisters and her brother who were all well established in America now also studied. She was in two minds before entering the college because she said she would be mobbed by the boys of the college who were good at studied because Parle College known as a college for scholars ”but scholars could also be mischievous and naughty” Madhuri’s opinion about them) she finally decided to skip college and decided to go an spent time at the favourite meeting place of the students, the nearby Shiv Sagar Hotel. She got the kind of welcome which only big stars and VIPs got when they visited the hotel which was the first in a chain of Shiv Sagar Hotels. She sat in what she called her favourite seat and ordered her favourite dish ”Pav Bhaaji” and I asked for a cup of tea and watched her eating the ”Pav Bhaaji” like a little girl finishing the dish and wiping the plate clean with the fingers and then licking them with the same fingers. She said she could never forget the atmosphere of Shiv Sagar and the taste of ”Pav Bhaaji” available there. She was given a warm send off by all the students and even the crowd which had gathered to see her because she was not the Madhuri of Parle College but a popular film star who had made it very big.
It was getting late and she remembered her mother telling her to come home early because they had to go for dinner to her ”Mausi‘s” (Aunt) place in Mulund which was far away from their home but Madhuri was very keen that I should see the only theatre where her parents tool her once in a way to watch films which were devotional or mythological. The only other films she remembered seeing were the films of Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand because her mother was a very big fan of both the legends. The theatre was known as Usha theatre those days and now turned to Pinky, a mod theatre with an air conditioned hall. She vividly remembered the potato chips and the cup of Quality ice-cream during the interval. It was nearing six but she was not in a mood to go home and wanted to spend time in a public garden where she and her younger sisters spent most of their time on holidays. We finally returned to ”Krishna Kunj”, her house and her mother had prepared a dish of Shrikhand Puri which was popular among all Maharashtrians. Madhuri still remembers that one day because she has never had the chance of visiting those places again.