Dia (Madhuri Dixit) is a choreographer who lives in New York with her daughter Radha. One day she receives word that her old dance teacher, Makarand, is dying. She returns to her hometown Shamli with Radha, to find that he has already died and left her the responsibility of saving the deserted dance theatre, Ajanta, which is to be demolished to make way for a shopping mall.
Shamli has changed a great deal since Dia left. Her parents left the town in shame a decade ago, after she eloped with an American photographer, and their house is now owned by the strict Mr Chojar and his wife. Her childhood friend Najma is married to Farooque, a successful businessman. Both of them greet Dia coldly. The only ally she has left is her old friend Doctor Saab. To save Ajanta, Dia goes to petition the local MP Raja Uday Singh. He issues her a challenge; if she can put on a successful performance using only people from Shamli, he will cancel the demolition.
That night Dia dances in Ajanta and afterwards calls on the people to help her put up a performance of the famous Laila-Majnu play. Jeering at her, they leave the theatre one by one, but Raja remains behind, reminding her of the challenge. Refusing to accept defeat, Dia goes out into the street the next day to scout for talent. When she returns to the theatre she finds that a group of thugs are burning the set, after being ordered by a local election candidate, Chaudhary Om Singh. Instead of being angry, she is intrigued by the ring-leader, Imran, and makes a deal with Chaudhary - she will help him win the next election, if he will support Ajanta and if Imran plays Majnu. He agrees and Imran is forced to take on the role. After finding out about the casting of Imran, many girls flock to the theatre for the part of Laila. Among them is Anokhi, a tomboy who is in love with Imran. She begs Dia, who is reluctant because of her rough appearance and lack of talent, but agrees in the end, thinking that her love for Imran will make her the ideal Laila. Other parts in the play go to Mr Chojar, who wants to prove to his wife that he is not boring, Chaudhary who plays Laila’s father and Dia’s former fiancé Mohan, who is able to overcome his bitterness towards her.
With one month to put the show together, Dia struggles to get Imran and Anokhi to work together. With Dia’s support, Anokhi changes her attitude and appearance to get Imran to take her seriously and soon their relationship deepens. A few days before the show, Farooque pays Chaudhary to abandon Ajanta and makes Najma spread hurtful stories about Dia. Chaudhary tries to get Imran to give up his part, but Imran is aware of Chaudhary’s political intentions and refuses, leading him to be attacked by Chaudhary’s men while Anokhi tries to protect him. With the whole town against her, Dia loses hope until Najma arrives to apologise and asks to be in the show.
On the night of the show, Dia is amazed to find that the entire town has come to Ajanta. The troupe put on a performance that amazes and excites the audience, including Chaudhary who is moved to tears. Farooque is stunned to see his wife playing the part of Laila’s mother and Mrs Chojar is shocked and thrilled when her husband appears singing and dancing on stage. At the end, the audience cheers loudly as the cast return to the stage for an encore. The night is a success and Ajanta is saved.
After Dia says her farewells to Shamli, she and Radha leave to find her parents in another part of India. Imran and Anokhi go on to teach dance classes at Ajanta with Doctor Saab’s help and dance becomes an inherent part of Shamli once again. Raja is seen watching Dia dance and it is implied that they develop a romance.Madhuri Dixit as Dia Srivastav
Akshaye Khanna as MP Raja Uday Singh
Konkona Sen Sharma as Anokhi as Laila
Jugal Hansraj as Sanjay Mehra as Laila's brother
Kunal Kapoor as Imran Pathan as Majnu
Divya Dutta as Najma, Dia's best friend as Laila's mother
Felix D'Alviella as Steve
Dalai as Radha, Dia's daughter
Raghubir Yadav as Doctor Saab
Vinay Pathak as Mr. Chojar
Akhilendra Mishra as Chaudhary Om Singh
Nowaz as Dhan Kuber
Darshan Jariwala as Makarand
Sushmita Mukherjee as Mrs. Chojar
Irrfan Khan as Farooque, Najma's husband
Uttara Baokar as Mrs. Srivastav
Yashpal Sharma as Inspector Sahib as Laila's father
Ranvir Shorey as Mohan
PAYEL as P
Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Farooque's servant
Director: Anil Mehta
Producer: Aditya Chopra
Story: Aditya Chopra
Dialogue: Jaideep Sahni
Music Director: Salim-Sulaiman
Lyrics: Jaideep Sahni & Piyush Mishra
Editing: Ritesh Soni
Choreography: Vaibhavi Merchant
Costumes: Mandira Shukla, Dolly Ahluwalia Tewari & Manish Malhotra
Shooting began on 15 January 2007 at Film City in Mumbai and ended in March 2007. Madhuri Dixit told that during the shoot of Aaja Nachle, she was given special attention by the crew. Madhuri’s favourite chocolates were brought everyday on the shoot.
The film's soundtrack was released on 18 October 2007 composed by Salim-Sulaiman and lyrics by Jaideep Sahni and Piyush Mishra. A few songs from the final sequence of the movie have not been included on the soundtrack including "Yeh Ishq".
The film's music was well received. This soundtrack debuted at number 9 for the first week. The song "O Re Piya" was later used in the 2009 Malaysian movie Talentime.
Aaja Nachle opened to a poor response due to controversy. The domestic performance of the film was below average mostly everywhere. Overseas the response was lukewarm as well. Movie managed to collect Rs 207.5 million and was declared a flop by Box Office India.
The film was received with mixed reception from both critics and audiences. The lead performances received mixed reviews. Khalid Mohammed from the Hindustan Times wrote, "Madhuri Dixit has a cool time. Konkona is overacting while Kunal Kapoor is flustered", while Rajeev Masand from CNN-IBN noted, "Madhuri is the one and only star of the film. Konkona Sen Sharma is nothing short of fantastic. Her greatest strength is that she isn't afraid of making a fool of herself and she doesn't worry about being laughed at. As a result, her performance in Aaja Nachle is fearless and uninhibited." Madhuri was nominated for the best actress award at the 54th Filmfare awards in 2008.
Awards and nominationsFilmfare Awards
Nominated - Filmfare Award for Best Actress - Madhuri Dixit
Nominated - Filmfare Award for Best Playback singer (Female) - Sunidhi Chauhan
Won - IIFA Award for Best Choreography - Vaibhavi Merchant for "Aaja Nachle"
Nominated - IIFA Award for Best Female Playback – Sunidhi Chauhan for "Aaja Nachle"
Nominated - Star of the Year – Female - Madhuri Dixit
The movie was banned in Uttar Pradesh, Harayana, Punjab on the 1st three days of its release over alleged casteist remarks. It majorly affected the its Box office Rating Dia, the character played by Madhuri Dixit, sings the lines Mohalle mein kaisi maara-mar hai; bole mochi bhi khud ko sunar hai (translated "There is chaos in the neighborhood, even the Mochi (Cobbler) calls himself a Sunar (Goldsmith)". Dalit groups said the line implied that Mochis (the Jatav caste – a caste of cobblers) were inferior to Sunars (goldsmiths).
Punjab and Haryana followed suit, banning the film the next day. However the ban was later lifted in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, after a written apology from the producers and the removal of the disputed lyrics (bole mochi bhi khud ko sunar hai) in the title song. The lyrics were replaced by other words mere dar pe deewano ki bahaar hai(translated "there is a parade of lovers at my doorstep"). However, a ban was imposed in the city of Patna on 2 December 2007. The issue was also raised in the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) by RPI member Ramdas Athawale who sought a ban by the government for hurting Dalit sentiments, but Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said that it was the responsibility of state governments to take any such action.