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October 23, 2001
It's a mad mad world
Subhash K Jha
Whatever the fate of producer Vashu Bhagnani's extremely likable romantic comedy Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein, there is no denying its hero, Madhavan, has it made!
Madhavan believes he has entered the Hindi film industry with two disadvantages. "Firstly, I did a lot of Hindi television. Then I went south to do Tamil films," he explains.
Besides Gautam Menon's Minnale, which the director has remade as RHTDM, Madhavan did two films with Mani Ratnam -- Alai Payuthe and Dum Dum Dum.
Now, he has the singular honour of doing a third film with Ratnam.
This impressive roll call in Tamil cinema, however, did not impress filmmakers in Bombay.
As Bhagnani says: "I was repeatedly warned by so-called well-wishers against working with a 'Madrasi' hero. That, too, one who has done television. But I had a gut feeling about Madhavan. And I was right. He's the most talented actor I've seen in recent times."
Though there's unanimous praise for Madhavan from audiences all over the country, some critics in Bombay seem to be working towards "keeping the Khan, Chopra and Ghai lobbies from feeling threatened" by dismissing Madhavan's immense screen presence.
Laughs Madhavan, "Some reviews did scare me. But each time I felt defeated, I visited one of the Bombay theatres screening my film and felt reassured. Though we now have to trim down the film by about 20 minutes, the response to my performance has been tremendous.
"Even in Tamil Nadu where audiences have already seen Minnale, they've freaked out on the remake," he adds. "I think RHTDM is not only superior to the original, it's a completely different ball game."
Madhavan says he worked harder and came up with a better performance in the remake. "The body language in both versions had to be completely different."
Madhavan intends to manage his career in Bombay and Madras with regimented schedules. The actor says that his producers have to complete their films within 90 days. For any extra dates, they would have to wait their turn in his date diary.
If he succeeds, he will be the first actor from the south to crack the Bombay box office effectively.
Meanwhile, besides Tamil films with directors Mani Ratnam and K Balachander, Madhavan has signed a Hindi film with producer Vivek Vaswani called Dil Vil Pyaar Vyaar. The film purports to be a tribute to the music of the late RD Burman. Post-RHTDM, offers have also started to trickle in from prominent producers in Bombay.
But Madhavan is treading cautiously. "I'd rather do class than crass," he says, pointing to the dearth of good screenplays in Indian cinema. "I'd love to work with a producer like Vashu Bhagnani over and over again. He knows time is money and he knows how to manage both efficiently."
The Bombay buzz about Madhavan is extremely positive. Many filmmakers feel he's the most original and exciting acting talent to have hit Hindi cinema in a long, long time.
With an engineering degree behind him, and a proud wife sharing the limelight by his side, Madhavan is all set to redefine some prejudices against 'outsiders' who come into cinema with non-film backgrounds.
Indo-Asian News Service
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