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Mad about 'Maddy'

Madhavan shot to limelight with Mani Ratnam's `Alaipayuthe'. The `heartthrob' has established himself in the Tamil film industry. Will Madhavan taste success with the recently-released Tamil film, `Run' or the forthcoming Hindi release, `Dil Vil Pyar Vyar'?

MADHAVAN WAS the golden boy who could do no wrong after his dream debut in Mani Ratnam's `Alaipayuthe'. And after Gautham Menon's minty cool `Minnale', he became hot among the teen brigade. They called him Maddy and were mad about him. The college-going audience liked his first four films- `Alaipayuthe', `Ennavale', `Minnale' and `Dum Dum Dum. They were all fun movies- pleasant, cute and on occasion, fairly wacky. But somewhere along the line, Madhavan decided to do serious roles in K. Balachander's `Paarthale Paravasam' and his mentor, Mani Ratnam's `Kannathil Muthamittal'. Both the films bombed at the box-office. Though `Kannathil Muthamittal 'was critically acclaimed and Maddy was recognised as an actor, his core audience felt let down. More bad news for Madhavan was when `Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein' (RHTDM), the Hindi remake of `Minnale', sunk without a trace.

The writing on the wall was clear. He had to woo back his college crowd audience in Tamil Nadu. Madhavan's all new musical, action packed love story, `Run', hit the screens recently. Will `Run' run at the box-office and bring back his `lost' legions of fans? A tête-à-tête with the teen idol. Is the `Maddy mania' over? The trade feels that you are no longer hot?

Can you please tell me the yardstick for measuring the popularity of an artiste or his standing in the industry? Is it an off-handed comment at a party or is there any rating done by the industry? Does it have anything to do with the price distributors pay for a star's film and his remuneration? So judging from my remuneration and the willingness of the producers to sign me, I don't subscribe to the trade's view.

But your last two films were flops?

I do agree that my last two films did not do too well at the box-office. But give me a chance; I have been around for a little more than two years. You take my report card; three out of the six films have been super hits. `Alaipayuthe', `Minnale' and `Dum Dum Dum' have done extremely well all over Tamil Nadu. `Kannathil Muthamittal' created an overseas market for me.

How has `Kannathil Muthamittal' done that?

The film may not be a big commercial hit, but it has given me fame and recognition as an actor. It has done well abroad and I received thousands of e-mails from all over the world congratulating me for my performance in the film.

So you reply to all these e-mails?

Yes. I am a net-freak and in fact, the suggestion that I do an action film came from my fans over the net. There are about 2,800 strong Madhavan Yahoo fan clubs from Tiruchi to Texas!

Is `Run' an action film?

It is a fast and racy entertainer and I thoroughly enjoyed doing the film. The music by Vidyasagar is already on top of the charts. It has plenty of action too. Director Lingusamy has done a good job. Jeeva's camera unfolds the story in a fast pacy manner. The film is likely to be a hit, for the producer, A. M. Ratnam, has marketed it well.

Will you fit into the action hero mould, considering that you have the boy next-door image?

It was Mani Ratnam who suggested that I do an action film after `Kannathil Muthamittal'. He knows what is good for me and I have immense trust in him. And after the story session with the director, Lingusamy, I was hooked and the way `Run' has shaped out is terrific.

Have you pumped iron to look like a macho hero?

(Laughs) I want to look good on screen and in fact, have lost about eight kilos. I have a physical instructor and a yoga master, who has helped me to stay fit. Being a vegetarian has also helped me a great deal.

You are doing `Anbe Sivam' with Kamal Hassan. Don't you feel it is suicidal to play second fiddle to him, as he tends to hog the show in all his films?

I know the pitfalls of doing a film with Kamal sir, but he was always my idol. I am doing the film as it gives me an opportunity to work with a star whom I have grown up watching. It is a part of my education and I don't think one-upmanship is his priority, as all of us need a big hit.

Are you still doing Hindi films where you have not been able to make a mark?

In Hindi, I still get good offers that excite me. My next release, `Dil Vil Pyar Vyar', for director Anant Mahadevan, is a unique musical love story -- a tribute to the legendary music director, R. D. Burman.

It has a lovely script and Namrata Shirodkar and me play a couple who are madly in love with each other. But too much of love drives us apart.

Your forthcoming Tamil projects?

I have signed AVM's new film with the director, Vikraman. It will be a big break for me, as Vikraman is one of the hottest directors on the circuit with a fantastic reach among the A, B and C audience.


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