It was 1988 and one particular song was blaring from every corner of the country and every man (straight or gay, 10 years old or 60 years old) in the country was screaming “Mohini, Mohini”. Mother’s of young boys were disgusted by the utter shamelessness and brashness of the song (at least kids were learning to count, they consoled each other secretly). The song was “Ek Do Teen” from Tezaab. A loud, cacophonous composition by Laxmikant-Pyarelal with their trademark style of cramming as many musical instruments in a composition and straining the wind pipes and other organs of the musicians. Alka Yagnik sings in a nasal tone, Javed Akhtar’s lyrics are kitschy, the set is tacky, the entire backdrop screams everything that was wrong with the 80s. But as soon as Madhuri Dixit walked on that stage and yelled “Namaskaar”….we all knew a “star” was born. Her outfits in the song are what nightmares are made of, the screen is filled with a hundred extras on and off stage, the editor goes mental with many intermittent cuts of the crowds, Anupam Kher in the backstage, Kiran Kumar and his gang and yet what stays with you after the song is over is – Madhuri. She changed the game, she had arrived with this silly counting song and made a million hearts flutter with her signature step of “aaja piya aayee bahaar” (due credit goes to Saroj Khan’s choreography too). Madhuri brings a perfect mix of grace, innocence and just the required dose of coquettishness in this extremely garish song. 21 years after the song was first seen — YES, TWENTY ONE YEARS — I still find myself mesmerized by Mohini.

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