The God of Little Things

Dispelling the aura of mystery around R Madhavan, ‘Maddy’ gets candid about his films, debut as a producer and in taking the leap of faith with content oriented films.

R Madhavan is happy having an aura of mystery around him. He does very few films but his screen appearances have a lot of meat and flesh for the audience, as well as him, to bite into. So whether it is as lead or as supporting character, the films cannot do without R Madhavan.

In his latest outing, ‘Maddy’ will be seen working opposite a boxer in his upcoming film Saala Khadoos, that also happens to be his debut as producer. And with characteristic maturity, box office collections are not what the debutante producer is bothered about. “Being a producer, I would obviously want my film to do well at the box office. But that’s not the pre-requisite to make a film. For me, content-oriented films are what I am looking forward to. I can’t make anything just to make money,” says Madhavan.

R Madhavan’s debut production venture Saala Khadoos has a relatively fresh cast but that doesn’t bother him. “We have tried to make a great film. It is an intelligent film which is very entertaining. I am sure people will like what we have tried to make for them.”

As popular in Hindi cinema as he is down south, Madhavan has done only 11 films in 15 years. “I have chosen to do only few films to stay in public memory for a longer time. I respect my audiences and would like to do films that they would like to see,” says Madhavan.

It was in Mumbai, where he would take public speaking and personality development classes that someone suggested Madhavan try his hand at modeling.

“You can make quick money as a model – I was told. I didn’t become a model and the only ad I did for a very long time was for a talc, but the high point was that it was directed by Santosh Sivan, who recommended me to Mr Mani Ratnam,” recalls Madhavan.

Mani Ratnam put him through a screen test for the leading role of Tamizhselvan in Iruvar. He was rejected by Mani Ratnam, who actually explained to him why he thought so. “Mani Sir actually told me that my eyes looked too young for a senior role. He needn’t have explained it, but that’s Mani Sir for you,” says Madhavan.

As his film career failed to take off, Madhavan went on to feature in Hindi television serials, appearing as a crook in his first venture Yule Love Stories. He appeared in leading roles in Banegi Apni Baat, Ghar Jamai, and later the game show, Tol Mol Ke Bol as well as Saaya. He gained further popularity portraying the character of a ship’s captain in Sea Hawks and as a convict in Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum.

Madhavan has clearly traversed a path long enough to be wondering yeh kahan aa gaye hum. He considers his life special and planned ‘only with opportunities and coincidences’. Sample this – It was at Kolhapur that he first met his wife Sarita, who had come to his class with her cousin and finally felt that she got a job as an air hostess due to attending them.

Over the years, Maddy has had a way with situations – to make them work in his favour. So what is it that will work for Saala Khadoos. “The story,” Madhavan insists, while adding, “In this movie, I’m doing the most anti-hero thing. I’ve grey hair, I’m seen in bed with a woman who’s not my wife, I’m letting the heroine say you’ve a bulky stomach but a cute smile. The script motivated me enough to take that leap of faith.”

There is a hype around his avatar for Saala Khadoos. But Maddy emphasises that the mental makeover was far tougher than the physical one. The out and out chivalrous Madhavan is full of praise for Ritika Singh, a real life boxer who he is cast opposite.

“Ritika took to acting like fish takes to water and reiterated what I always believed in — acting is an innate skill. We found her purely by chance when Raj Kundra invited me to the Super Fight League. I knew within 20 minutes of meeting her that she was the heroine. She is a world champion boxer, around 17, speaks in Hindi and Tamil. Most importantly, she knew how to act, her parents allowed her to do so and even looks like an actor. She is a better actor than most heroines I have worked with. After every scene we used to say nice performance, nice expression but she was concerned if her punches were good,” he laughs.

Ask Maddy what would be his next venture and in his trademark style he says, “Hire me if you are making a film, I am totally vella!”

For now, Maddy would like to spend time with his son Vedant, go skiing, travel, play golf, and grow fresh vegetables on his terrace.

Written by – Aarti K Singh

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