On the eve of Madhuri Dixit-Nene's 50th birthday, fans reveal their celebration plans, what makes them Madhurians and their love stories with the Dhak Dhak girl
They gather around the cake, which is surrounded by balloons, candles, paper hearts and cards. A soft chorus of Happy Birthday is sung; the cake is cut and eaten, candles are blown, and wishes are exchanged. The birthday girl, Madhuri Dixit-Nene isn't present. This is but a minor inconvenience for her fans. "We have been celebrating her birthday on our own for the longest time. A few years back, we decided to do a joint celebration, bringing other fans together," says Nitesh Shahani, 27, a marketing manager and co-founder of the Empress Madhuri fan group.
This year, to celebrate Madhuri's 50th birthday on May 15, her fans have created a #SpreadTheMadhuriSmile campaign that includes a screening of Hum Aapke Hain Koun (HAHK), in Mumbai, Delhi and Pune, in association with web movie platform, 1018mb.
The Madhuri booklet. Pics/Milind Saurkar
Schoolteacher Smita Parmar, 39, is helping coordinate the celebrations in Pune. "We have a screening of HAHK at Cinepolis in Magarpatta.
We will also cut a cake, and donate money to an NGO as a goodwill gesture." Parmar, whose adoration for the actress earned her the nickname Maddy Smita on Orkut, also holds her own celebration. "I've been cutting her birthday cake for the last decade, since college. A group of friends and I get together and ring in her birthday at midnight," she says.
Abhijit Phadale with an autographed photo
It is not unusual for fans to celebrate Madhuri's birthday on their own, says Shahani. Many of them, him included, get a cake and candles and decorate it with pictures of her.
"Till today, on May 15, my friends call to wish me," laughs Abhijit Phadale, 36, an MNC worker, who earned the nickname Abhijit Dixit back in college.
Pondicherry-based Vinodhini's celebration
Ek Do Teen
They all remember the moment they fell in love. To many, it was watching the hit number Ek Do Teen from the movie Tezaab. "I was 10 then, and I became an instant fan. But it was after watching Ram Lakhan that I fell in love," recalls Parmar. Kalpak Chavan, founder of networking club BeHiver and a manager at HDFC Bank, was younger - he was four - when he first saw HAHK. "I remember telling my mother I wanted to watch all this actress' films again and again," he says.
Kalpak Chavan with his autograph
Phadale first saw her in a little known film, Dayavan, and liked her acting. "From there on it was passionate affair. I would save pocket money to watch her films. I've seen them all and in college, managed to do it first-day-first-show. I watched Dil Toh Pagal Hai five days in a row."
The 3D figurines; with a special card; fans presenting Madhuri with a tiara.
Meeting their idol
Shahani runs the Madhuri Empress fanclub on Twitter with four other fellow Madhurians - it is a take-off from a similar group on Orkut. The fan page on Facebook has merged with the official Madhuri Dixit fan page - the perks of this include invites to events featuring the star.
In fact, the club is responsible for taking a different group of fans, each year, to meet their idol. "It started thanks to her (then) secretary Rikku Rakeshnath. He was very helpful. In 2010, when Madhuri was signed on as judge for a dance reality show, he allowed us to meet her on the set," says Shahani, who has also met her husband, Dr Shriram Nene. What was it like meeting her? "I was dumbstruck. I remember telling her is 'I can't believe I am walking with you'," he laughs. Parmar had a similar reaction.
"I hardly remember anything I said. But she made us comfortable and came across as really sweet and humble."
Chavan echoes her sentiments. He was part of a group who met the actress on the sets of the TV show. "She interacted with each of us individually; she told me in Marathi that she liked my name. She read out a letter we had written to her and ensured we ate something before leaving. It was a dream come true moment," he says.
As Shahani says, they may be fans, but they never get too crazy. "We will always remain her well-wishers."
ON: May 15, 6 pm
AT: Mukta A2 cinemas, Andheri.
LOG ON TO: 1018mb.com
Letters from fans
Priya D Thanki, London
'I have always looked up to Madhuri as my older sister. There was a time where I had difficult decisions to make. I thought what would Madhuri think or say if she spoke to me right now. The answer became clear. She gave me strength and reminded me what was important and what I had to do.'
Avinash Jha, Delhi
'On my way to school, I would pass a huge poster of yours, Madhuri, on the gate; I unconsciously bowed my head and prayed to you. They say God is everywhere and you just have to find him. I found my God in you. They say god is great, he is never wrong and he is all powerful. You have all these qualities.'
Gayatri Mehta, Mumbai
'Madhuri is where she is because of her dedication and sincerity to her work. I've learnt a lot from her. I am more disciplined and started taking things seriously [beacause of her]. She is my inspiration, my motivation, my strength and a Goddess for me.'
Nidhi Newatia Agrawal, Bengaluru
'Her eternal beauty has always inspired me. My childhood was filled with Madhuri's pictures, celebrating her birthday, offering treats to friends. I can proudly say I have a strong, 19-year-long bond with her and it is immortal.'
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