Madhuri Dixit is largely seen as the best bollywood actress ever. Here, a thorough investigation is made to see why she is seen to be the best actress ever, why such a title cannot be given to anyone else. The criteria for best actress is on the basis of acting and versatility, beauty and glamour, superstardom or box office pull, iconic image. Madhuri’s acting, versatility, beauty etc. are well known, so in this article more emphasis will be given to her superstardom, explaining why she is known as the greatest female superstar. Finally some facts about her to highlight her iconic status will be provided.
Acting and versatility: Madhuri’s acting talent is phenomenon. Hardly any other actress in cinema has her level of naturalness, power, depth, spontaneity and subtlety. As Madhuri’s voice and expressions of it are remarkable, so are her emotive skills. Being very versatile, she has portrayed all sorts of emotions on screen with enormous success, and always came out bigger than the films she was in. (Though awards are no measure for the assessment of an enormous talent like her, she gas got 11 major awards as an actress, and got nominated 26 times)
Beauty and Glamour: Madhuri is a classical beauty yet can be very contemporary. Her beauty is legendary. She can be very glamorous as well when needed.
Box Office pull or superstardom: Madhuri Dixit is one of the fewest actresses who are known to overshadow her male co-stars. Madhuri was always given the credit for her hits more than her male co-stars. As Vikram Phadnis says, “Take any film of Madhuri Dixit, whether the film is a winner or not, Madhuri Dixit is always the hero of the film”. For the purpose of this analysis, ibosnetwork and boxofficeindia has been used. In order to look at the matter numerically “the superstar actress” of ibosnetwork can be referred.
The superstar actresses (adjusted)
It should be mentioned that here due to availability of data after 1970, the actors/actresses before that time do not get due credit, however, once ibosnetwork produced a list incorporating all the data since 1950 as can be seen from the screen shot.
The superstar actress (including all data before 1970, this is the overall list)
The method here is very crude as an actor gets the total BO just by being at a film (Sometimes even being hero/heroines’s mother or father). Moreover, the incorporation of male co-star factor is very important for the qualitative understanding of stardom, which is not done in the list. Madhuri Dixit lies at number 4 despite having most hits in 90s. But if the male co-star factor is incorporated then Madhuri’s superstardom becomes evident. For the purpose, if top ten films of the top five actresses are taken and then the involved male co-star factor is examined it becomes obvious. Here in the (), the star status of the male co-star as in “top actors in the BO” of ibosnetwork is provided.
Top actors at BO
Top actors at BO (including all data before 1970, this is the overall list)
For example, when for Hema Malini it is written “(1), 3 films”, it means out of top 10 hits of Hema 3 is with a male co-star whose rank at “top actors at the BO” of ibosnetwork is 1. However the ranking changes when all the data 1970 are incorporated, so for each actress both the rankings using current link (data from 1970) and the old link (data from 1950) are provided. For example, Dilip Kumar is much behind in current link (29, as only his post 1970 works are included), however, when his earlier all works are incorporated he lies at number 3 as seen from the screen shot. The old rating is given first and in the bracket [ ] is the rating that comes from the list that incorporates only post 1970 data.
Examining co-star factor with top 10 biggest hits of respective actress:
(Rating of the male co-star), and number of films with him
(1), 3 films [(1), 3 films]
(2), 3 films [(2), 3 films]
(3), 1 film [(29), 1 film]
(7), 1 film [(26), 1 film]
(11), 1 film [(21), 1 film]
(1), 5 films [(1), 5 films]
(5), 3 films [(4), 3 films]
(9), 1 film [(37), 3 film]
(30), 1 film [(27), 3 film]
(13), 2 film [(22), 2 films]
(6), 5 films
(3), 3 films
(13), 1 film
Unrated, 1 film
(12), 1 film, [(6), 1 film]
(15), 1 films [(7), 1 film]
(18), 3 film [(10), 1 film]
(21), 1 film [(13), 1 film]
(22), 2 film [(15), 1 film]
(26), 1 film [(17), 1 film]
(67), 1 film [(60), 1 film]
(1), 2 films [(1), 2 film]
(3), 1 films [(29), 1 film]
(4), 1 film [(3), 1 film]
(5), 4 film [(4), 1 film]
(18), 1 film [(10), 1 film]
(25), 1 film [(16), 1 film]
This shows that not only Madhuri Dixit has the top 10 hits with most varieties (7) of heroes, the overall star status of the hero is much less than her (highest (12), best pair hero (18)).
Now an investigation will be made into the star status of male co-star during the time of the top 10 hits (ibosnetwork) of a given female star. For the purpose ‘top actor’ and ‘top actress’ of boxofficeindia.com (BOI) is referred.
BOI ranks top 3 actors/actresses at the end of every year. However, it is very important to note that, the year-by-year top actor/actress status of BOI is flawed, as they are done on the very year (it means it is not analysed afterwards considering outcomes). There criterion is not solely box office sales, in fact they do not have any fixed criteria. The criteria change as their will, thus making the process very controversial. Sometimes they rate an actor above another because of hit, sometime because of asking price, sometimes because of upcoming big and prospective films. Such method totally falls apart, as often an actor is shown as top in a given year not because of delivering big hits but because of asking price and/or signing big budget films. So clearly this method is wrong because of its inconsistency and can never be accepted without reservation. For instance, in 1990 BOI put Sridevi ahead although she did not have any film! (they show the reason as asking price!) In 1989 Sridevi had only small grossers like chadni and chalbaaz (these two films were not significant grosser to be added in the top 50 films of 80s decade of BOI), while Madhuri Dixit once again had two huge grossing films, Ram Lakhan (ranked 12 in top 50 grosser of BOI, 2nd highest grosser of 1989) and Tridev ( ranked 19 in top 50 grosser of BOI, 3rd highest grosser of 1989). In “note” section, BOI was not able to show any justification for Madhuri not being at top. In 1988 Sridevi was shown at top because of “waqt ki awaz” (once again, this film does not rank in top 50 grosser of 80s decade), while Madhuri had delivered the biggest hit of the year that ranked 12 at the top 50 grossser of 80s decade and one of the most memorable blockbuster ever. Sridevi reigned at BO from 1983-1987 (with the exception of one year, 1985, when she did not have any hit that list in top grossing film of that year in BOI). So obviously it is justified that she was top during that time. But after that there was no film of her that ever grossed significantly to be said hugely successful (Ref BOI top 50 grossers of 80s and 90s decade).
While Madhuri not only became most popular after tezaab in 1988, she consistently delivered huge grossing film every year for many years and also moderate hits along with some flops that were still significant grossers. In 1988, 1989 Sridevi does not have a single film that ranks anywhere in the BOI (not in years’ grosser and of course not top 50 grosser in the decade), none of the film ranks even in the top 10 films of Sridevi from ibosnetwork either. So looking at the note of “top actress” in BOI it becomes evident that combination of few factors lead it to show Sridevi at top in 1988, 1989, 1990 (without any film that year!!). The apparent factors were,
(i) her young age, she was 24
(ii) her significant success in BO for last few years
(iii) she was signed for some big budget and big banners including Yash Chopra, Boney Kapoor, Mukul Anand (one with Amitabh)
(iv) her ability to demand high price
(v) her belief in the number game. Her determination, her assertion to media that on the basis of factor (iii), she was still top and she would definitely maintain that (Ref: her interviews).
(vi) A section in media and industry on the basis of factor (iii) and (v) expected her to deliver in terms of box office draw. However, nothing of the sort happened. And none of her big banner films lived upto expectations.
For the case of Madhuri in 1997 the factor (i), (iii) and (v) was totally different, (she was 30), not signing new big films (since the success of dtph she signed only 3 films to date (lajja, devdas and Aaja Nachle)), and only finishing her overdue projects that were already running late, none of them were with big banners or prospective hits and most of the projects took forever to finish. Most importantly she always refused to accept the number game and was not interested in it at all. She was never interested to assert media about being number 1 (which she did not believe anyway), on the contrary had a humble attitude to praise and encourage all the new young actresses. Because of the lack of other factors, for Madhuri’s case, BOI entirely gave importance to BO result only in 1996, 1997. But that was not the case for 1988, 89, 90. As a result, looking back later, trade analysts, industry and media clearly acknowledges that Madhuri became top in 1988 and maintained that for over a decade. No actress since Madhuri could match the continuing success of hers. But, Madhuri stardom never faded (actually that was the time when she turned to a legend from just the big superstar) as evident from her becoming “actress of the millennium” in 2000 and Forbes magazine portraying her as one of the top 5 stars in late 2001 (two year after her overseas marriage and despite not having significant BO success lately). In 2000, the millennium edition of Guinness Book of Record reported her as the highest paid Indian actress. It is obvious that such anomalies in top actor of BOI are present elsewhere, but only the years that affect Madhuri have been investigated and analysed here.
In spite of the anomaly and inconsistency of BOI “Top actor” and “top actress”, it will be used for the investigation of the star status of male co-star during the time of the top 10 hits (ibosnetwork) of a given female star. To minimize the reservation, all top 3 actor or actress will be considered as top actor and actress in any given year. The overall rank of any actor/actress from ibosnetwork will be given from the original ranking i.,e including records before 1970
The superstar actresses (adjusted)
list including record before 1970
Top actors at BO
Top actors at BO (including data before 1970)
As per BOI “top actress”, Hema Malini was in “top 3” from 1972- 1983. However, the top 10 hits of “The superstar actress” of ibosnetwork shows Hema Malini had her top 10 hits between 1972 to 1976. From the Table it is seen that Hema Malini had 3 hits with Amitabh, 3 with Dharmendra. During the whole period and even after that both these male co-stars stayed in top 3 of the BOI “top actors”. Moreover these two actors are ranked 1 and 2 respectively in the “top actors in BO” of ibosnetwork. So the male co-star factor for her is very strong.
As per BOI “top actress”, Rekha was in “top 3” from 1978- 1983. However, the top 10 hits of “The superstar actress” of ibosnetwork shows Rekha had her top 10 hits between 1972 to 1980. From the Table it is seen that Rekha had 5 hits with Amitabh (ranked 1 in ibos), 3 with Jeetendra (ranked 5 in ibos). Amitabh was on top during and after that period while Jeetendra was in “top 3” from 1980-1986. This shows that the male co-star factor for Rekha’s major hits is strong.
Nargis: As per BOI “top actress” Nargis was in top 3 from 1948- 1957. And the top 10 hits of “The superstar actress” of ibosnetwork shows Nargis had her top 10 hits between 1948 to 1957. Nargis had 5 major hits with Raj Kapoor (ranked 6 in ibosnetwork) and 3 with Dilip Kumar (ranked 3 in ibosnetwork). From ‘top actor’ of BOI it is seen that Dilip Kumar stayed in top 3 from 1947 to1965, while Raj Kapoor from 1949 to 1960. Nargis is the only actress other than Madhuri for whom the range of years for top 10 hits from ibosnetwork and ranking in “top 3” of BOI “top actress” totally overlap.
As per BOI “top actress” Madhuri Dixit was in “top 3” from 1988- 1997, and the top 10 hits of “The superstar actress” of ibosnetwork shows Madhuri had her top 10 hits between 1988 to 1997 (the 11th one is in 2002). She is the only one other than Nargis whose top record period of BOI and ibos match. It shows that other than Nargis, she is the only one who really reigned with BO pull and not by hype and expectations, media relation or price factor. Madhuri’s male co-star factor will be analysed with some more detail. Seven male co-stars of her top 10 films will be analysed separately.
Anil Kapoor: Madhuri has 3 hits (1988, 1989, 1992) from top 10 hits with Anil Kapoor (ranked 18 in ibosnetwork actor rank, debuted in 1983). In BOI “top actor” Anil is shown in “top actor” only in year 1988-1990 and 1992. Anil never reached top position before and never ever came back in “top actor” after that. From the top 50 grosser list of 80s and 90s it becomes obvious that Anil never ever had a bigger or equal success as a sole hero with any other heroine other than Madhuri.
Amir Khan: Madhuri had 1 film out of top 10 hits with Amir (ranked 26 in ibosnetwork, debuted in 1988) in 1990. However, Amir khan was not seen in the “top actor” actor of BOI around that time, he entered in “top 3” in 1996 and had remained there with occasional exits.
Sanjay Dutt: Madhuri had 2 films out of “top 10” hits with Sanjay (ranked 21 in ibosnetwork, debuted in 1981) in 1991, 1993. Sanjay Dutt was in “top actor” of BOI from 1991 to 93.
Salman Khan: Madhuri has 2 films from her “top 10” hits with Salman (ranked 15 in ibosnetwork, debuted in 1988) one in 1991 and the other in 1994. Salman Khan was seen in the “top actor” of BOI first in 1991 (Madhuri starred Sajaan) and 1991 (after karan arjun), 1998 and afterwards occasionally. The biggest hit HAHK could not propel him into “top 3” in 1994 as the film ‘s success was credited to Madhuri.
Sanjay Kapoor: Sanjay Kapoor (ranks 67 in ibosnetwork, debuted in 1995) was never seen in “top 3” actor of BOI.
Sunny Deol: Madhuri had 1 film from her “top 10” hits with Sunny Deol (ranks 22 in ibosnetwork, debuted in 1983) in 1989. This was the same year when he made his first entrance in “top actor” of BOI “top actor” list.
Shahrukh Khan: Madhuri has 1 film (1997) from her “top 10” hits with Shahrukh Khan (ranked 12 in ibosnetwork ‘top actor in BO’, debuted in 1992). Shahrukh Khan entered in BOI “top actor” in 1994 and maintained his position till the time of the write up (2010).
So the male co-star factor for Madhuri Dixit is very weak or insignificant. In overall star status of male co-stars (highest in (12)) and in year-by-year star status of male co-star, Madhuri is the only female star who is way ahead of her male co-stars. None of the male co-star of her top 10 hit films ever entered the top 3 of top actor of BOI before her. Out of 7 only two entered with her but did not make continuous stay like her and made quick exit. None except SRK made a continuous stay at top 3. Out of 7, one co-star debuted 3 years before her, 2 debuted 1 year before her, 2 debuted 4 years after her, 1 debuted 8 years after her and 1 debuted 11 years after her.
Though Sridevi is behind Madhuri in “the superstar actress” of ibosnetwork still her male co-star factor is investigated. As per BOI “top actress” Sridevi was in top 3 from 1983- 1993, but the top 10 hits of “The superstar actress” of ibosnetwork shows Sridevi had her top 10 hits between 1983 to 1987. She does not have any other film after 1987 that grossed enough to be displayed in the top 50 of 80s and 90s decade (except the mega budget BO disappointment Khuda Gawah). It is seen from her top 10 hit films, Sridevi had 2 films with Amitabh, 1 with Dilip Kumar (who had many scattered hits in the 80s including the biggest hit of the decade), 4 with Jeetendra (ranked 5 in ‘top actor in BO’ in ibosnetwork). Jeetendra remained in BOI ‘top actor’ from 1980 to 1986. The Jeetendra- Sridevi hits were during 1982-1986 and he entered the BOI top actor three year before Sridevi. However Jeetendra exited in 1986 as he was in later stage of his career (he debuted in 1967). Nagina (the co-star was Rishi Kapoor who debuted in 1973 with huge hit Bobby and all his top 10 hits were before Nagina and bigger hit than Nagina) and Mr India rank at 44 and 41 in top 50 grosser of 80s decade in BOI respectively (these two are also at 9 and 10 of top 10 hits of Sridevi in ibosnetwork). This shows that the male co-star factor for Sridevi’s major hits is significant.
The above investigation conclusively explains why Madhuri Dixit is the greatest female superstar ever.
(Note: However, one more serious anomaly in ibosnetwork has been detected which affects Madhuri Dixit’s “adjusted collection” and “cumulative BO impact” in a negative manner. Her 1998 film Bade Miya Chote Miya has not been added in her filmography (hence in the calculations), despite featuring in a very hit song and some scene as special appearance. It should be mentioned that for few other actresses such small appearances have been incorporated, such as Sridevi (janbaaz), Kajol (kank, duplicate) Aishwariya Rai (Hum Tumhare Hai Sanam, Bunty aur Babli, Mohabbatein))
Iconic Image: To highlight Madhuri’s unmatchable iconic status some information are added.
*Ashok Kumar said Madhuri Dixit is the most complete actress in 100 years of Indian cinema.
*During the mid 90s she was called the female Amitabh Bachchan for her sheer dominance in the box office.
*Her popularity during her peak was so much that people of neighbouring country Pakistan used to say “take Kashmir give us Madhuri”, even a Pakistani Government official said that jokingly in New Delhi during his visit.
*Madhuri Dixit is the only female star who had domestic and overseas shows (in the Middle east, USA) on her name, i.e., “Madhuri Dixit Live”. She had such shows in early 90s, mid 90s and even in 2000. There was a Madhuri Dixit live in Boston that had tickets sold out 2 week before the show (This was a record for a less Indian populated city like Boston). During her reign Madhuri was bigger star ever than male stars. In 1993 there was a live show that had many stars and in the promotion Madhuri name came even before male stars like Amitabh, Mithun, Salman etc.
* There is a lake in Arunachal Pradesh which is popularly renamed as “Madhuri lake” by the locals. The shooting of a song of film Koyla took place by the side of the very lake. It was at a time when Shahrukh Khan ( the co-actor of Koyla) was already top male star of Bollywood.
* A survey done by Times of India in 1997 found her as the idol for all young woman.
*India’s most famous modern painter known as Picasso of India M. F. Hussain called her “the epitome of womanhood” and made a film with her as a tribute to her “Gajagamini”.
*A TV serial was named on her “Mrs. Madhuri Dixit”.
* She was voted as the actress of the millennium in 2000.
* In 2000, the millennium edition of Guinness Book of Record reported her as the highest paid Indian actress.
*In 2001 Forbes magazine named her as one of the most powerful Indian film star.
*In 2003 15th August, she became the best actress ever by zeeenews poll.
*In Jamshedpur there is a person who celebrates Madhuri’s birthday every year. Improtant local personals including government official come in the function. He performs “Madhuri puja”, gives flowers to her photos. Everyone eat sweet after the event. It made news even in BBC. One US researcher has written paper on it.
* In 2003 “Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon”, made by film maker Ram Gopal Verma was a film made as a tribute to her.
*She became the Rediff best actress ever.
*At the age of 40, an UK magazine dubbed her as the second most sexy woman of Asia, this is outstanding for a woman of 40 and a mother of 2.
* In 2008, veteran actress Waheeda Rehman said she wants to see Madhuri Dixit doing the remake of her most famous film “Guide”.
* Economic Times rated her as one of the top 33 woman who made India proud.
* She is the first actress of Hindi cinema who has been honoured by a major award providing magazine (Filmfare) for completion of 25 years in the film industry.
* After a staying away for nearly 2 years from all public appearance she worked as a judge in the cebebrity dance show Jhalak Dikhlaja 4 (in Dec 2010). Due to her presence, the show generated record TRP among all dance reality shows and became the highest TRP grossing show ever of Sony TV Network.
* She is the first bollywood actress of modern era who has been awarded with Padmashri by Indian Government (in 2008).
* Reputed Magazine Vogue honoured her with their first “The Beauty Legend” award in 2011.
* Legendary actor Dilip Kumar always had two favourite actress, Audrey Hepburn and Madhuri Dixit.
* In March, 2012 her wax statue has been intsalled at Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, London, UK.
* In June 2012, Madhuri Dixit once again won “the most popular actress ever” by an exclusive poll conducted by NDTV. She won by a resounding 53% votes.
*She won the most inspirational bollywood icon of all time by BIWA in 2014
(References of all of the above are available)
Another observation can be made, out of her 11 awards and 26 nominations, Madhuri got most of them during her absolute reign period, which is not the case for other top actresses. It only reflects that not only her reign was with top quality performances but also the awards or nomination for certain films she received had both viewers and critiques immense approval. Her awards were not by appropriate lobbying (which usually is the case for most awards) or as consolations, which seems to be the case for most other top actresses (An elaborate discussion on that is beyond the scope of the current article, the readers are encouraged to analyze the case themselves for the other 4 top actress; by comparing the reign period of the actress and the time of any award that the actress received for certain film/films).
Major media house have often mentioned Madhuri Dixit as the greatest actress ever of Bollywood. From the above discussion it becomes obvious why Madhuri Dixit is really the “best Bollywood actress ever”. Being a unique combination of talent, beauty, superstardom, dignified personality and iconic image, she has become unparalleled in her craft.