The Proust Questionnaire is a fortnightly feature which derives its name from the French writer Marcel Proust, whose personality-revealing responses to these questions went on to popularise this form of celebrity confession. This questionnaire was administered by Subha J Rao
What is your idea of happiness?
The peace of mind I get when I know I've done the best, pushed myself to the best extent possible.
What is your greatest fear?
That I will become dependent in my old age. I value my independence a lot and the thought of having to lose that due to age or any other reason terrifies me.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I might sound audacious, but the Mahatma has been a great inspiration. He had the conviction to live with his beliefs in the face of total disbelief. He found a unique solution and persisted, though the world thought it was impossible. I try to stick to my beliefs too.
Which living person do you most admire?
My dad, my mom. They have managed to transcend from being straightforward, great parents to great parents-in-law and grandparents. I still look to them for all advice. They are noble. I admire that.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Oh, I have very limited will power. I wish I could change that. I am working on it though. I am too easygoing.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
I don't look at any trait as such. I usually tend to not like a person's nature. Let me think. I dislike the trait of ungratefulness.
What is your greatest extravagance?
My indulgence in gizmos. They arouse immense curiosity and involvement. They give me an insight into the future. My most expensive buys are my bikes. I have two of the world's top-end bikes — Yamaha VMAX and Ducati Diavel. Luckily, my wife shares my passion for bikes, and so I happily indulge.
What is your favourite journey?
Heading back home after a hard day at work. I love the term “pack-up”.
Who is your favourite painter?
Frankly, I really don't have one.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Niceness. I think everybody wears a veil of niceness to get things done the way they want to. It cannot be attributed completely to a person's personality.
On what occasion do you lie?
When it can save someone from getting hurt. The most recent lie was when I was late for shooting. I attributed it to a traffic jam.
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
Oh! I wish I had bigger calf muscles. Actually, I've never been happy with the way I look.
Which living person do you most despise?
I am too egoistic to go out and find someone like that. Or to give anybody that credit.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Oh God!” “Ada poda!” I use these to describe anything from disappointment to disgust.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife. What I feel for her is all-encompassing.
When and where were you happiest?
I can't name one single occasion. There have been lots. But when I saw my son Vedant for the first time, it was an incredible feeling.
What is your present state of mind?
I am at peace. There are times when I am full of anger. But, for me, every emotion is very temporary.
How would you like to die?
After having finished all my duties and not leaving anyone hanging because of my demise.
What is your favourite motto?
Live and let live.
What is your greatest regret?
Not having a physique like Keanu Reeves. Mainly because it is within my means, and I am not working towards it.
R Madhavan began his acting career in serials such as “Banegi Apni Baat” and “Sea Hawks”. Mani Ratnam's “Alaipaayuthey” catapulted him into the limelight. He is one of the few southern stars who has managed to carve a niche in Bollywood, in supporting parts (“3 Idiots”) as well as lead roles (“Tanu Weds Manu”).