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Madhuri Dixit on the price of fame that comes with being a superstar: ‘Having paparazzi follow us’

There are a few actors who have become synonymous with the film industry itself Madhuri Dixit Is one of them. There is a whole generation of women who grew up wanting to be Madhuri, which is even reflected in the title of a film. The actress broke more than a few hearts when she left Bollywood and her return to the industry was rightly celebrated in Aaja Nachle (2007). Now the girl from Dhak Dhak is making her digital debut with Netflix’s The Fame Game, where she plays a superstar with a flawless facade.

In this interview with indianexpress.com, the actress talks about the price of celebrity extracts and how she managed not to let her family be swayed by it. She also talks about how difficult it is to maintain success and how she embraces failure.

Excerpts:

Did real life situations help you portray your character in The Fame Game?

My character Anamika Anand is a big star and very famous. She has a perfect life and family. When we talk about the star and her family, her family dynamics and relationships are very different than mine. With her children she will like a tigress, she will do everything for them. And if she suffers even a little from her fame, she feels very bad about it.

In this series, we’ve looked at the other side of fame and how dangerous it can be.

How liberating does it feel as an actor to be able to play flawed characters?

Perfection is an illusion. Nobody is perfect, everyone has a flaw. Anamika did not want to practice this profession, she was forced to become an actress. She feels claustrophobic and at some point even wants to do something for herself as she has been doing it for others all her life.

People make mistakes. Me sometimes… I don’t look good every day, sometimes I might look bad or my hair is a mess, or sometimes I don’t feel very good. That’s the reality and I enjoy portraying these characters because there are so many levels. At one point she says, “My life is so good,” I feel so good, “but does she mean all the things she says? Not just Anamika Khannas but all the characters in the series have many layers and each character has their own arc and when that arc is complete all the characters connect and it’s just beautiful.

There’s a line in the trailer where the investigator says, “She’s playing a new role every day, how can she remember her real self”? You were that actor, that superstar, how did you manage to keep your sanity?

I see it as a job. When I’m in front of the camera, I’m a professional actress, I know what I’m doing. I read the script and I play this character, I become this character for the camera. But when I’m back home, I’ll be a normal person because that’s how I grew up. Even when I was working in film, at the peak of my career, my mother scolded me for keeping my room clean. I would tell her that I have people to clean it up for me, but she would say, “No, it’s your mess, you have to clean it up yourself”. That’s how I am, once I’m out of the studio and back home, I’m myself, not the actor or the star that people see on a screen.

as soon as i’m home I am the mother of my children and my husband’s wife, it’s a whole different life. I never lost myself trying to be the star I was on screen.

On the show, as you said, your character is very protective of her children and doesn’t want their fame to affect her. Have your kids ever had bad experiences because of your fame?

Luckily, I haven’t gone through anything out of the ordinary or something big enough to affect my family.

What happens are very small irritations when the paparazzi follow us. When you come out of a restaurant, there are so many photographers and not every kid likes to be photographed. That would be the biggest problem for us, but that’s too small to care. I give my kids that freedom and tell them it’s okay if they want to be photographed; if they don’t want to be photographed, that’s fine too. So there were times when I asked them to get in the car first and then I followed them. That’s how we handle it and they’ve learned to deal with it now that they’re old enough. It was a bit confusing for them when they were little, but they are fine now.

The show is mostly about the cost of fame. What was the biggest price you paid to be famous?

Overall my life has been pretty good and I’ve never really had to pay a huge price for my fame for treating it that way. To me, fame is just the byproduct of what I do. Every morning I’m excited that I’m going to face the camera, that I’m going to play a certain role and do this or that scene. That excites me. Everything else that happens to me is in peripheral vision. My focus is on my art, whether I’m dancing, singing or acting. When I’m at home I focus on my family, everything to do with the kids. I need to know what they’re doing, where they are… For me, I’ve managed to keep those two lives very separate.

I don’t think fame has affected me negatively so far.

How challenging has it been to maintain your success and how do you deal with failure?

As an actor you have to reinvent yourself and think outside the box. You have to think about what’s going to appeal to people and what different things I can do next, and not just to make myself famous, but because you want to grow as an artist, as a person. I have never looked back, I always look forward to what I want to do next.

There are times when people have told me that certain things don’t suit me because “I’m a big star”, like doing roles etc. But how does it matter? You should do what you want to do. I enjoy what I do, so I keep doing it, quite passionately too.

I always say fame shouldn’t define you, you should define your fame. I’m a completely different person. I don’t like being stuck in a mold just because I’m a star. It means nothing to me. My children, my family, my own happiness are more important to me.

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