All set to host “Big Money”, a new show on Imagine, actor R. Madhavan shares what it feels like to return to the small screen which catapulted him to bigger avenues

He is one actor who is not bound by mediums or the length of roles. He might not be the biggest name in the industry, but his honesty is hard to ignore. Perhaps that makes him the best bet to host a television show. He comes across as someone who can joke and jibe but at the end of the day you know he is a guy you can trust.

Come July 10 and R. Madhavan will return to the small screen with ‘Big Money' on Imagine.

“I was between films when I got this offer. I am a huge fan of Siddhartha Basu and his shows. So when the offer came I couldn't say no. Having started my career on television and having hosted ‘Tol Mol Ke Bol' when game shows were new in the country, I connect with the medium. Whenever I have time I'd like to return to it,” says Madhavan.

But last time, he quit midway from ‘Deal Ya No Deal'. “The show didn't turn out the way I had anticipated it to be. The producers kept changing the schedule. It clashed with my film shoots. Ultimately, I had to quit.”

Things have changed on television since the days of ‘Tol Mol Ke Bol' and Madhavan acknowledges the technological advancement. “Gadgets have made the task of the host easier. Earlier, we had to put in a lot of effort to do what is considered simple these days. Yet, I have to think on my feet while interacting with the whole family on the sets. It is exhausting but exciting and in a way an opportunity to reach out to so many people.”

Family show

In ‘Big Money', Madhavan will quiz participants on whatever appears on television…soaps, advertisements, cartoons… “It is a complete family show, where even a kid can help the family win Rs. 1 crore.”

As for his knowledge of soaps, Madhavan says, “These days my knowledge of television shows is limited to National Geographic Channel and news channels, but I know television soaps command a huge viewership.”

Will we see the real Madhavan on the show or will he appear as a character? “You will get to see the real Madhavan. It is next to impossible for me to be a character. Even in films I try to play my character from my point of view. Like in 3 Idiots, I have taken a lot from my personal life to play Farhan.”

Sometimes game shows with big names fail to find an audience. It has happened with Anupam Kher and Shah Rukh Khan. “It is the format that is crucial to the success and longevity of a game show. KBC remained on top for a long time largely because of the novelty of the questions.

“If ‘Paanchvi Paas' failed it was because the format didn't suit the Indian audience. It doesn't reflect Shah Rukh's ability as a host. In fact, success or failure of a game show doesn't affect the career of an actor.”

Once in a while, there comes a film that changes the course of an actor's career. Is 3 Idiots proving to be the game changer for him in Bollywood? He doesn't consider 3 Idiots as the biggest film of his career.

“I have worked with the likes of Mani Ratnam. Of course in terms of money and offers, 3 Idiots has changed my status in the Hindi film industry but it isn't going to change the way I work. I love to be challenged and tested. I don't want to repeat myself.”

He might be hosting ‘Big Money' but he categorically says he doesn't earn a lot of money. He explains, “When you work with big directors — and in my case I have worked with some really big names — you don't necessarily earn big money but yes, your market value does go up…companies come for brand endorsements. I like it this way….”

Just when we were thinking he would sign many Hindi films, Madhavan has signed Manmadan Ambu, a Tamil film with Kamal Haasan. This is his second film with the master actor and he is excited about the prospects. Directed by K.S. Ravikumar, a large portion of the romantic comedy is going to be shot in Europe. “It is a love triangle with Trisha playing the female lead.”

The film was launched when the southern film industry was boycotting the IIFA awards. Madhavan says he is an apolitical person and people shouldn't read much into it.

“But yes, I didn't want to hurt the sentiments of my Tamil fans. That's why I didn't go to Colombo.” But before Manmadan Ambu, we will get to see him as Manu in yet another romantic comedy Tanu Weds Manu with Kangna Ranaut playing Tanu.

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