Death, when it struck, snatched away plans of a very prestigious project that the iconic M.F Hussain planned to direct. And it was Madhuri Dixit, his "original" Bollywood muse, and not her successors (Tabu, Amrita Rao, Vidya Balan, Anushka Sharma) that Hussain wanted for this ambitious project encapsuling the entire history of Indian cinema.
Speaking from Denver Madhuri admits, "Yes, Hussain Saab had called about a month-and-a-half back to discuss a project on 100 Years Of Indian cinema. As usual he was very excited about this latest brainchild. His zest for life and his ideas always made me feel older than him."
Taking a deep breath, Madhuri sighs, "It's very difficult to believe Hussain Saab is gone. It' is like losing someone very near to you. If as you say I was some part of his huge legacy then I am very very proud of being part of what Hussain Saab created. He is certainly someone who made a difference to my life."
At Madhuri's home in the US, M F Hussain is a household name. "Even my children know about him. When I told my son Hussain Saab is no more he was like, 'Aw Mom, is he really gone?'
Madhuri remembers the bare-feet bare-souled artiste's illimitable energy. "Hussain Saab called himself a nomad. And he was a really restless soul. I remember when we were shooting Gaja Gamini, he'd often disappear from the sets. We'd be like, 'Where is Hussain Saab?' He'd be all over the place with his ideas."
The gamine-like actress admits the movie that Hussain made was a brain-teaser. "In Gaja Gamini, I knew I was not doing a regular normal run-of-the-mill film. He wanted it to such a cinema where one could take any frame treat it like an individual painting. It was a tough role. Hussain Saab wanted me to portray very facets of womanhood with all my mystique and charm. I don't know if I succeeded in putting across even a part of his ideas."
Most of all, Madhuri remembers the 90-plus icon's gusto for existence. "He was restless and fidgety. Always on the move. I was tempted to tell him, 'Hussain Saab, slow down, so I can catch up with you.' My association started with him when he saw me in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. He saw it umpteenth times. I guess he liked my screen presence. I learnt a lot from my interaction with him."
Trying to contain her emotions, Madhuri remembers her final conversation with Hussain. "The last time I spoke to him was more than a month back. He was so excited about that project on 100 Years Of Cinema. He would always be filled with excitement and never get tired of his work. I think his work was his stress-buster. Most of us need a break from our work, no matter how much we love it. Not Hussain Saab."
Diplomatically evading the issue of Hussain's enforced exile away from India, Madhuri finally bursts out, "Whenever we spoke he was so charged. He would get sad only when he talked about not being home in India. Hussain Saab was one of the more liberal people I knew. He believed in all religions and he experienced life to the fullest. Yes, I'll miss him."
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