Though popular Hindi cinema is frequently identified by its song-and-dance sequences, little has been written specifically about film dance. This article analyzes film dance and female stardom in Hindi films of the late 1980s and 1990s through an examination of the star text of Madhuri Dixit, the leading dancer-actress of the time. It tracks the kinesthetic history of the Dixit star text from Tezaab (Acid, dir. N. Chandra, India, 1988) to her most recent films and television shows and examines how her brazenly sensuous dance numbers have transformed the construction of the female body on-screen and indeed the very conditions of female stardom in Hindi cinema. This article analyzes the dance numbers from three films featuring Dixit and demonstrates the tensions and alterations provoked in the popular Hindi film narrative by the dissolving divide between the coy heroine and the raunchily dancing vamp. It suggests that these refigurations often revolve around dance, which operated as a critical site for the negotiation of cultural anxieties around female sexuality during the period. This article employs a body-space-movement framework to consider the strategies that nineties Hindi cinema deployed in its attempt to manage a new and potentially dangerous circulation of the heroine's body. By highlighting these strategies' frequent failure to contain Dixit's flamboyantly dancing body, this article posits that the dancer-actress engenders a distinctive mode of performance that suggests a different model for understanding female agency and the authorship of film narratives and star texts.

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