Madhuri Dixit received Padma Shri for her contribution to Indian cinema and the former Bollywood diva says the honour is a result of her hard work and honesty.
"It's always a wonderful feeling to have your work honoured. One has worked so hard for so many years. The Padma Shri is a culmination of all my hard work and honesty. I think I'm being honoured for doing my work sincerely," Madhuri told IANS.
Madhuri's children are in the US with her in-laws and her parents.
"They're all there. I guess my kids are lucky to have three sets of parents. My husband was here with me to share this moment. He left on Sunday."
Did Madhuri's children share her excitement about the award?
"Not the younger one. He's only three. Too young to understand, but my five-year-old son kept asking me why I was getting this award. I told him it was because I did movies in India for many years. 'You did movies. Why? Why do people call you Dixit?' he asked me.
"I think he's finally getting to know that his mom who cooks meals and puts them to bed had a life beyond the home and kids before marriage."
Bollywood's former diva admits it's hard to bridge the gap between the life she has now in the US and her long and successful innings in the film industry.
"I've gotten used to a life with my husband and kids. And to leave them behind in the US and come to Mumbai to work is tough. Although our parents take really good care of the kids, Ram and I still worry about what's happening back home when we're in India," said the actress.
She reigned the Hindi film industry in 1980s and 90s and churned out greatest hits like Tezaab, Ram Lakhan, Beta, Dil, Saajan, Khalnayak, Dil To Pagal Hai and Devdas.
Madhuri says the fact that back home people still want to see her on screen makes her happy.
"It is wonderful to know that people still think about me in my home country, although I don't live here any more. That they still want me back, it makes me feel very wanted."
Last time Madhuri was in the country, it was for the release of her comeback film Aaja Nachle. The film didn't work, but she says its failure wasn't a blow to her.
"I did my part sincerely. And I did everything I could. So did the whole team. I've worked in this field long enough to know you win some, you lose some. Sometimes you feel everything is going right and the end product still falls apart. It's okay."
So what is she doing to rectify her fans' sense of disappointment?
"Is that your way of asking if I'm doing another movie? Next time I'll ask my fans what they want to see me do on screen. The fact that I did a part for a woman specially written for an actress my age was a triumph. I'm not in India to sign another movie, not this time. I came just to receive the Padma Shri." After the Padma Shri, Madhuri is staying back in Mumbai to catch up with family friends and a whole lot of personal work.
"I do have a life beyond movies," she laughed.
I finally touch on the Madhuri Dixit aura undiminished by time, marriage, motherhood and the failed comeback vehicle.
"I never thought of what you call an aura. For me this life as a wife and mother was what I dreamt of almost all my life."
Thank God, she did at the right time.
"What's the right time?" she quipped. "If you mean the right time to have kids then let me remind you a 63-year-old woman had twins. Nothing is impossible at any age any more.
"As for me, I had always said if I meet the right person I wouldn't think twice about giving up my career. And that's exactly what I did. I never planned anything in life."