Monday, May 19, 2008

Let's talk about ... R. Madhavan!

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.

20 comments:

Qalandar said...

WHOA!!! another Maddy fan! How wonderful-- I truly feel he is one of the most gifted actors of his generation, and even pulls off roles that by rights should be out of his comfort zone with great ease (witness him playing the Tamil cinema overman in "Thambi")...

Nithin said...

How did you miss out Rehna hain tere dil mein...

In fact he started acting in daily soaps but I guess you will not have access to them..

Qalandar said...

I didn't miss RHTDM, but I do prefer the Tamil original Minnale I must say, even though my only access to Tamil films is via subtitled DVDs...

veracious said...

Qalandar - I'll make note to check out Thambi. I wasn't aware it was one of his better performances.

Nithin - I, like Qalandar, vastly prefer Minnale. I watched the film two years ago so my memories are hazy, but Minnale seemed like a lovely romantic tale, and I still listen to the songs on occasion. Rehnaa Hai Tere Dil Mein, for some reason, made Madhavan's character somewhat unpleasant. I did enjoy interaction with Saif Ali Khan and Madhavan in that movie, though.

Qalandar said...

Most would say Thambi is an awful film, and certainly it is not a good one -- it is a very typical "overman" sort of Tamil film. The reason I single it out is that while this is ("naturally" almost) Vijay terrain, or Vikram terrain (keeping in mind films like Saamy, Samurai, Dhill, Dhool), it has never been thought of as Maddy terrain -- and yet, and yet, he manages to pull even this off, using a hint of craziness to "make up for" physical disadvantages (to playing the overman).

http://qalandari.blogspot.com/2006/08/thambi-tamil-2006.html

memsaab said...

I love Madhavan too. He is v.v. handsome in a "boy next door" kind of way :-)

He's in Rajkumar Hirani's next film Idiots alongside Aamir Khan and Sharman Joshi (and Kareena). Looking forward to that!

veracious said...

Q - I think Maddy was fun as a guy who pretends to be that sort of rowdy badass character in Ethiri. I think my friend described Thambi as "Maddy bulging his eyes" so I'm not sure whether I want to see it, but maybe in lack of anything better, I shall check it out.

memsaab - Oh that is excellent news, thanks for letting me know. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey another Maddy fan! I like him a lot too. I think he does have the skills to be a truly cross-over actor, BUT - the Hindi movie industry has historically not allowed any S.Indian male to make it big, citing reasons such as lack of Hindi knowledge (not true here), S.Indian looks (I'd say not true for Maddy) and so on...I think he suffers from the after effects of that. Plus, with so many star-kids in movies, it's probably hard(er) for him to get good projects!
As for Tamil - well, he's from "Indi-speaking" lands, and doesn't really speak "street-Tamil" - I'm sure he's picked up enough, but you can tell that his accent is still very non-Tollywood. He's as much an outsider to Tamil cinema as he is to Hindi cinema, and of late, most of the heros in Tamil cinema also seem to have family connections.

As for his movies, I did like Nala Damayanti - he's good in comedy as well. Surprisingly, I also really liked the Hindi version (Ramji Londonwale) - usually I prefer the original version of movies. My favourite of his is Kannathil Muthamittal, though.

M

veracious said...

M - Good insight, I think you're right on both accounts. No wonder this guy hasn't made it big. Especially in Bollywood it is very hard to break through, but in Tamil films as well and linguistic capability seems like a must over there (why they dub heroines, even ones who can speak okay Tamil).

KM is good, yes. Ramji Londonwalley is on my to-watch list. :)

Qalandar said...

Good set of thoughts here; as Kamal Haasan once said of Maddy: "he's too Bombay for Madras, and too Madras for Bombay"...

lapetitediva said...

I believe Evano Oruvan is available on DVD, but it's on one of those 2-in-1 DVDs, IIRC. As yet, it's not released as a single disc.

I liked him in Dum Dum Dum as well, and in Priyasaki and Jay Jay. I heard he was good in Anbe Sivam, which I plan to watch someday.

Anonymous said...

M again - BTW, I'm Bitterlemons on Bollywhat..should remember to comment using the same name on all blogs! keep forgetting!

Qalandar, Kamal's comment is right on!

As for Tamil movies dubbing heroines, which ones do you know that speak OK Tamil and are dubbed? I thought all the N.Indian imports are dubbed, I know Trisha isn't, neither is Meera Jasmine (she is from Kerala, but speaks good Tamil). Khushboo and Simran, I've heard them speak Tamil on TV shows - they speak passable Tamil - but their cadences and pronounciatons are pretty off.

Veracious, I found the Tamil Run with Maddy a somewhat fun watch - it was way better than the Hindi one anyway! Anbe Sivam I found a self-indulgent ode-to-Kamal, and Maddy was fat! I actually liked Maddy in Priyamana Thozhi (the movie itself has some crazy plot holes and inconsistencies) - I found the Maddy-Jyothika pair very believable again.

Too long a comment (gush) :-D

Bitterlemons

Daddy's Girl said...

I really like Madhavan, although I am ashamed to say I haven't seen any of his Tamil films :(. I will defnitely work on that, starting with the ones you mentioned in this post. I agree with you on RHTDM - he somehow didn't come across well and I was surprised to find myself not liking his character very much. I liked Maddy a lot in 'Ramji Londonwaley' - I loved the sincerity and depth of his performance.

madaboutMaddy said...

I don’t care that much about Maddy’s non-existing stardom. He has his very own place in Indian cinema, and I can hardly imagine him doing those conveyor-belt Tamil action movies. I loved him in Kannathil, and he was the sole character in Guru that was able to create magic despite the fact that Saxena’s acting wasn’t ethically unproblematic. Actually, I couldn’t take my eyes of him (not only because he is so damn handsome). I even liked him in RHTDM, but this could be of course because I am generally mad-about-Maddy. The guy has a strong charisma, talent, and that kind of maturity that makes him look so convincing in his roles. However, he has a Tamil competitor who could make big in Bollywood, and this one is really, really dangerous: Siddharth...

veracious said...

DG - I hope you get to see some of his Tamil work! His Hindi films can be good, but he gets bigger roles in Tamil films..

Q - Haha, excellent quote. :)

lapetitediva - Do those 2-in-1's have subs, any idea?

M - I was told Tabu can speak Tamil but she was dubbed in Kandukondain Kandukondain. I'm not too knowledged in any other actresses and their language skills, though, I have to admit. So perhaps there is a good reason for dubbing.

madaboutMaddy - Hi there! I agree, it's not that big of a deal. I guess I would just like to see more recognition for him. Not necessarily stardom but for more people to recognize the talent etc. I agree Maddy's role in Guru was very important in terms of the ethics of Abhishek's character ..or lack thereof. Anyway, I'm also big on Siddharth so while he is competition, I like to think they're friendly competetors. :D

Anonymous said...

Veracious,

AFAIK, Tabu speaks Telugu, not Tamil. Aish speaks a little Tamil as well, but again, not enough to carry off dialogue convincingly.

- Bitterlemons

lapetitediva said...

re: 2-in-1 DVDs - some have subs, others don't. I'm not sure about Evano Oruvan, but here's the link to the Bhavani DVD page

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

I will join in the chorus and insist I loe Madhavan too :) He's definitely gotten a very raw deal in Bollywood;
I remember him best from a TV show "Ghar Jamai", where he played son-in-law to Satish Shah's daddy-in-law. I am not sure if that is out on DVD, but it was a really funny show- those 2 worked together fabulously. Need to watch more of his tamil stuff :)

soumya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
soumya said...

He is really a talented actor.No wonder people calling him Junior Kamala Hassan.Way to go Maddy.Love you so much...........