Over the last few months, Madhuri Dixit has successfully managed to build an online profile to connect with fans through apps, social media and all digital engagement tools that many of her Bollywood peers still find difficult to crack. Madhuri's latest project Dance With Madhuri is a website where fans can get dancing lessons in the form of interactive, video packages split over multiple clips.
Madhuri belongs to a different generation of Bollywood stars, yet is so comfortable with modern tools like social media and the Internet.
How have you managed to transition so easily and perhaps be even more active that the younger lot, in terms of your online presence.
Age is no barrier. It is just your mind and how you want to expand it. Bachchan Saab is so good on Twitter and such things. He writes a blog also. I am still not that comfortable with blogging, but facebook and twitter are fine. My husband has also contributed in this, as he is very tech savvy. I am learning a lot from him.
Look at the world. I think all the screens, be it digital or TV are going to be one. Already in the movies, we no longer get those big-reels. Today it is all done digitally. So with 3D and 4G that is clearly the future.
How did the concept of this website strike you?
We have our own media and content company called 'RnM Moving Pictures'. My husband and I wanted to make our start with the digital space. My husband had his own software company before he did medicine, so he has experience in writing software. I am a very passionate dancer. I wanted to take this art form to every house as I feel everybody should be able to dance.
Considering the love fans have given me all these years, I felt this is a way of giving something back to them. Lot of fans have been writing to me that they wish they could learn dancing from me. In the past I have toyed with the idea of a dance academy, but I did not want to limit myself to say just 200 people. So my husband partnered with a company and together they came up with this idea.
What can fans of your dancing expect from this Madhuri Dixit venture?
What I like most is that there is a lot of fun to be had with dancing. So people can upload their own dance videos, share, comment, connect…There is also interactivity such as stamina, hearts, badges, rewards and all those things. A panel of choreographers will also judge the videos and the winner could then get a chance to meet me. At one level it is also a nice way to discover new talent. Suppose there is an Indian sitting in China who is a very good dancer, this could be a way for that person be discovered.
So is talent management the next logical step?
I have not thought that far into the future. Right now it is just about discovery. So Ram takes care of technology and I take care of the artistic side of it.
How did you select Ek Do Teen and Mai Ni Mai as your launch numbers?
Mai Ni Mai is a very simple dance. Anybody can do it. Plus it is a very popular shaadi song. Ek Do Teen of course because it is a life changing song for me. It is slightly difficult, but if people keep going over the videos again and again, they can learn it.
Each song is split into several video lessons. Later we will have more songs based on reactions.
If a group of friends are planning a sangeet, there can all learn the same song in different parts of the world and come together to do the same dance. Some people are shy about dancing in front of others, so they can practice it in privacy, in their own rooms on their smart-phones or ipads.
Is this essentially aimed at the NRI market?
There are fans all over the world, except for maybe a small part of Iceland. Bollywood is global and there is interest from all over. Even Dancing With The Stars had a Bollywood theme. So everybody is curious about learning, but don't know how to go about it. I just wanted to create an umbrella where I can showcase all forms of dance. And it’s not just my Bollywood songs, there will be other numbers too as well as classical forms like Kathak. Also folk, jazz, western…We will have professionals teaching a variety of styles. It’s not necessary that I teach every song.(Madhuri says that if fans want to practise a non-Madhuri number like Radha, they will teach that also).
And what about the guys? Nothing for them?
Absolutely there will be stuff for guys too, and for people from all ages.
Will you invite any of your co-stars to do guest lessons?
If they would like to come, I would love to have them. But as of now the plan is to focus on choreographers as the platform is to teach and learn dance. Not just watching.
How do you plan to take this further?
Sky is the limit. At some point we may charge, but it will be affordable, as I want dancewithmadhuri.com to reach out to as many people as possible. And whatever money we earn, a part of it will go back into the project, while the rest will go to charity.
What advice do you have for stars who still have a phobia towards connecting with fans digitally?
It is the future, don’t be scared of it. I am not saying I am very good at it, but I am learning. My kids are fearless with technology so I am learning a lot from them.
Finally what do you think is the secret behind your ability to appeal to fans across generations?
My dancing has helped me connect with people from all over the world. I just love dancing. And maybe it is my passion that connects with them.