The minute Karan Johar and Ayan Mukerji convinced Madhuri Dixit to groove on screen alongside Ranbir Kapoor for Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, they had a sure-fire hit on their hands. It only helped that all the songs from the movie raced to the top of the charts as soon as they were released.
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, produced by Johar and directed by Mukerji under the banner of Dharma Productions, stars Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, with Aditya Roy Kapur and Kalki Koechlin in supporting roles.
With everything looking up for the film, it was no wonder that the cast exuded an upbeat vibe on their recent visit to Dubai.
Though the leading lady Padukone was conspicuously absent from the Dubai promotional tour organised by Essar Events, Kapoor had the supporting actors by his side to help build-up pre-release hype for the film.
Kapoor and Padukone last appeared together in the 2008 hit Bachna Ae Haseeno and were once the hottest couple in Bollywood before Kapoor got distracted by Katrina Kaif. "I didn't sign this film because of Deepika and neither did she sign the film because of me," says Kapoor.
For the 30-year-old actor, the highlight of the film was the chance to work with Dixit. He admits to having had a crush on the now 46-year-old actress since he was a child and recalls meeting Dixit in 1995 when his father, Rishi Kapoor, was shooting with her in Switzerland for the film Yaraana.
"It broke my heart when she got married," sighs Kapoor. "She was my first love. To work with her was amazing." He adds: "Madhuriji's presence adds so much to the film. People will want to see the film because she is in it."
Kapoor and Dixit appear together in the song Ghagra (sung by Vishal Dadlani and Rekha Bhardwaj), which hit the No 1 spot in India's music charts immediately after its release. Three other songs from the film have also been chart-toppers: Badtameez Dil, Balam Pichkari and Dilliwaali Girlfriend.
Kapoor is famous in the industry as a prankster on set. When asked what kind of antics he pulled while working on the film, his co-star Koechlin pipes up before Kapoor gets a chance to answer.
"He rubbed haldi [turmeric] all over my face and I got rashes. But I got him back," she laughs.
Koechlin, 29, is known for playing offbeat roles. She debuted in 2009 with Dev D, directed by Anurag Kashyap, to whom she is now married. The 2011 movies Shaitan and That Girl in Yellow Boots cemented her reputation as a quirky actress.
That same year, she appeared in the film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara - a huge commercial success that was quite different from her usual projects.
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is her third mainstream commercial film, after the recently released Ek Thi Daayan.
"I'm more in my element when I am doing non-commercial cinema," admits Koechlin.
"My character in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara was pushy and annoying. To make the character loveable was a challenge. In Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, I play a tomboy who has no reservations and, again, is very loud. I am not that kind of a person, so getting into that character took some effort."
Dancing queen returns
Madhuri Dixit made her Bollywood debut in 1984, danced her way into the hearts of millions by the end of the decade and was the industry's top actress - until she got married in 1999, when her career took a back seat.
She makes a comeback this month with a guest appearance in Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, and has two other projects lined up: Gulaab Gang and Dedh Ishqiya.
In Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, she will be seen in an item number choreographed by Farah Khan. Dixit donned stunning Manish Malhotra ghagras and belted out the kind of moves that earned her the position of Bollywood's favourite dancer.
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani will be out in the UAE on Thursday
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