Vickey Lalwani (MUMBAI MIRROR; March 9, 2013)
It has been nearly two years since Madhuri Dixit returned to the country with her husband and children. And since then, the former matinee queen, has been busy with brand endorsements, film deals, dance academy and invitations to some of the most high-profile parties and events. Madhuri version 2.0 has been all about profile and a contemporary touch that keeps her as relevant now as she was decades ago. Perhaps the aggressive marketing strategy required the star to shed some trappings of her past. And her trusted secretary, who singlehandedly managed her career in the 90s, Rikku, Rakeshnath, was rendered irrelevant, redundant. Rikku was foremost among the breed of the all-powerful mentor-secretary-manager, who nurtured greenhorns to stardom and held the reins of their lives thereafter. No one imagined Madhuri’s 28-year-old association with Rikku – that began with a series of flops till Tezaab created history – would end on such a note. For Rikku, Tezaab was a personal victory – he handled both Anil and Madhuri at that time. His association with Anil continued for 18 years.
Apparently, Madhuri’s decision to hire a younger, fresher team was not her own – but that of her husband, Dr Sriram Nene. According to a source close to the couple, “Dr Nene, who had quit his job as a cardio vascular surgeon in Denver, to follow his wife to India, is blessed with a canny marketing sense. He quickly realised, his wife did not need just a manager, but a talent manager. And the hunt for a more professional, more business savvy team was on.”
Meanwhile, Rikku began to find it increasingly difficult to get through to the star who he considered ‘family.’ “They would politely refuse to meet him, not take his calls. He knew something was not right,” says the source. Meanwhile, Anil Kapoor, who was enjoying his second and more eventful spike in his career, recommended a spin doctor – Reshma Shetty. “One day Rikku got a call from Madhuri, ‘Ab mera kaam doctor saab dekhenge,’ she said and hung up,” says the source.
If Rikku was devastated, he was not willing to show it then. But last week, he reinvented himself – from being a manager he has now positioned himself as a talent manager. He has launched TalentZ, in partnership with Pahlaj Nihalani and Shilpa Shirodkar’s husband Aparesh Ranjit.
“Professionally, Dr Nene has not been happy with the kind of offers that have come his way. And he has realised that it makes better sense to help manage Brand Madhuri than work on a compromise – no hospital was willing to offer him the kind of compensation that he expected,” said the source. He was also mulling offering voluntary service in government hospitals at one point.
As for Rikku, he is busy getting even with life – by looking for the next Madhuri in the earnest faces around him.
The ouster did me good-Rikku Rakeshnath
Have you started a talent management company?
That’s right. And TalentZ is the name. My office is in Juhu.
How is it doing?
I am back. I am going to go all out. I have already cast a girl Urvashi Rotela opposite Sunny Deol in Anil Sharma’s next. I shall stick to what I did and do best – scouting and promoting new talent. TalentZ is not only about actors but also singers, lyricists and directors (pauses).
What is it that talent management companies do?
Whether it is Bling or Matrix or any other – if you have a Madhuri Dixit or Salman Khan as your client, offers will flow in any case. And if Madhuri feels that Reshma Shetty can improve her career, then maybe she is right.
Aren’t you hurt that Madhuri stopped working with you?
I wouldn’t say hurt. But after Madhuri and I stopped working together, I had a lot of time to introspect. I wanted to expand my business. Of course, I was not going to stop working. And this time I was not alone. Shilpa’s husband and Pahlaj were ready to join hands with me.
Why did you part ways?
Look, I shall not get into the details. I worked with Madhuri for more than 28 years and I respect her. Neither do I want to say anything about Dr Nene.
What if Madhuri wants to join TalentZ tomorrow?
She is welcome anytime.