Bollywood star Madhuri Dixit appeared in her first Marathi movie, Bucket List, in 2018. Dixit has rekindled her connection with her native tongue in 15 August. Swapnaneel Jaykar’s movie is Dixit’s first production in Marathi. The drama follows the residents of a chawl in Mumbai on Independence Day, and is being streamed on Netflix.
The RnM Moving Pictures production has an ensemble cast that includes Renuka Shahane, Rahul Pethe, Mrinmayee Deshpande and Adinath Kothare. 15 August is a reflection of the heritage of Dixit and her husband, Sriram Nene, she told Scroll.in. “My husband and I are both Maharashtrians and we have lived that kind of life,” Dixit said. “Some of my relatives have lived in a chawl. I felt like I knew these people and there was a lot of relatability in the story. Somewhere, the film took me back to my roots.”
The movie talks about freedom in many different ways, Dixit said. “It is about the freedom to love, the freedom to choose your career and the freedom to die,” she added. “The film is also about unity and how people come together for each other in a chawl.”
The warm reception to Bucket List, in which Dixit plays a housewife who decides to follow her dreams, encouraged Dixit and Nene to produce a Marathi-language movie. “I really enjoyed myself when I did Bucket List – I was talking in Marathi,” she said. “I have grown up in a Maharashtrian culture and I was very happy on the sets.”
15 August could have also been released in theatres, but it made a better fit with Netflix, which is streaming a few Marathi films, including Firebrand and Sairat. “We just have 400 theatres for Marathi films, and if more than two films release together, the theatres reduce even more,” Dixit pointed out. “So the number of people you can reach is very limited. We showed the film to Netflix, and they loved it. That does not mean that cinemas do not work. But for 15 August, Netflix was a great choice at this point.”
The aim is to keep producing entertaining films in different genres. “The films should always have something that audiences can carry home with them,” Dixit observed. “Those are the kind of stories that I envision for RnM. I want to make entertaining films. That could be action, mystery, comedy. It should be something that touches the heart.”
Apart from production duties, Dixit will be seen next in Abhishek Varman’s period drama Kalank. Dixit also starred in Indra Kumar’s recent comedy Total Dhamaal. It is important to choose different kinds of roles, said Dixit, who made her acting debut in Abodh in 1984 and made her breakthrough with Tezaab in 1988.
“Total Dhamaal is very different from what I am doing in Kalank,” Dixit said. “I was very fortunate enough from the beginning to have been offered diverse roles, whether it was Mohini in Tezaab or Nisha in Hum Aapke Hain Koun.”
Sooraj Barjatya’s Hum Aapke Hain Koun, released in 1994, remains one of Dixit’s favourite films. “Sometimes you have to underplay a role and still be very effective,” she said. “Nisha was that character. She is very understated and sweet, but there was still an element of mischievousness to her. After a long time, we had a family film. The movie has completed 25 years this year, and these are the films that I enjoy doing.”