It isn't always easy to champion the little guy, but there are times when it truly pays off. Still, I do often ask myself, why is it that R. Madhavan, a talented actor who is also easy on the eyes, and with a handsome filmography behind him, is not as popular as he perhaps would deserve to be?
But let me first back up a bit. R. Madhavan is a Tamil actor who's also done a few Hindi films (Rang De Basanti, Guru to name the best). He debuted in Mani Ratnam's Alaipayuthey (later remade as Saathiya in Hindi) and has later collaborated with Ratnam on various occasions, producing perhaps his career's best works with the director. Married, vegetarian.. should you be interested in more biographical data, visit his Wikipedia page.
I have so many favourite performances of his to list. My first exposure was the aforementioned Alaipayuthey; the realistic struggles of the otherwise sweet married couple were touching, and while the film may have a few glitches, I was mesmerized by the chemistry, the performances, and the songs (Pachai nirame is one of the most beautiful Rahman tunes I have ever heard).
Then came Dumm Dumm Dumm, another romantic film, this time more comedic and Madhavan opposite Jyothika, my favourite Tamil actress then and now. It's hard to explain why I found him so appealing. The quality of the movies certainly helped, but there was something more to it. He had a presence on-screen that could be light and up-lifting (and my goodness, that smile) or pensive and darker, or various shades in between.
His villain in Ayitha Ezhuthu was disturbing and showed true range (of course, he is the least likely person ever to play a villainous role again), and while I won't even mention some of his early Hindi ventures, I cannot leave out Rang De Basanti and Guru. Both small roles, mere side characters in a way, but left such an impact on the movie, and hopefully its audience. (And if not, at least we fangirls swooned.)
Madhavan or 'Maddy' is a misfit, in a way. On various fronts, I think he will always be appreciated as a capable actor, I doubt he will ever hit mega-stardom, though technically he has all the right ingredients. But even for all his bilingual glory, Maddy simply just seems stuck in character actor pool in Hindi cinema, and not quite fitting the action hero roles of Tamil popular cinema, somewhat outcast there as well. Though I suppose it's possible Maddy is comfortable in his niche - a mix of masala and something more challenging every once in a while.
And if nothing else, I very much look forward to a DVD release of his best movie last year, Evano Oruvan. While I wait for that, I can always rewatch the song of the same name from Alaipayuthey. It was, after all, what made me fall in love with Madhavan in the first place.