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Madhavan returns as Thambi

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Actor R. Madhavan Photo: Murali Kumar
Actor R. Madhavan Photo: Murali Kumar

Sudhish Kamath

The movie has generated a positive buzz

CHENNAI: R. Madhavan is ecstatic. First, it was a nine-minute role in Rang De Basanti that won him much adulation and accolades. "I am honestly pleasantly surprised. The only reason I did it was because of Aamir," he says.

And now, it's his Thambi that has generated a positive buzz after its preview at Good Luck theatre on Tuesday.

"After a long time I came across a director who told me a story that made me hug him," beams Madhavan. "Seeman is so good with lines that I was wondering how come he never got a chance before."

Thambi is an anti-thesis to the classical revenge tale. "I play a character who has shades of Gandhi and Bose. A crusader who uses a little violence against violence. Like a line in the movie that goes: "a person putting a scalpel to your heart is not being violent, he's treating you. Open heart surgery is not violence, it's the cure," he explains.

"Ours is the only country where even if you have to say `silence' you have to scream it out. That's also from the movie. Seeman has to be the best dialogue writer in the industry. The movie is full of such one-liners. It completely blew my mind," adds the actor. "The problem was finding a producer until Murli Manohar very defiantly came forward to take it to a larger canvas."

Is he able to relate to a full-fledged commercial Tamil film sensibility after a very refined Rang De Basanti? "I am making a film for a Tamil audience. I wish I had the formulae where I knew what my audience was. When I get to Madurai they introduce me as the hero of Minnale and Run. In New York, they say I'm the actor from Alai Payuthey, Anbe Sivam and Ayudha Ezhuthu, when I go to foreign universities, they say I've done super hits like Kannathil Muthamittal, Nala Damayanti and Anbe Sivam. Some movies that don't do well here are cult-hits abroad, being among the highest selling DVDs. So which is my target audience? Internet users, theatre-goers, movie halls abroad, critics or a Telugu audience, which will watch a dubbed version of my film?"

Isn't he just happy he doesn't have an image trap to add to that? "Yes, luckily there's no image trap for me. The weightage, of course, I am seen as a romantic hero, but they know I'm going to come out with something different."

The box office in Bollywood, he hopes, will be kinder to him. "I've been very unlucky, but I believe it has to do with the timing of the release. Rehna Hai ... went on to be a retro-hit. I have a fond feeling that the Hindi film industry is waiting to give me my first solo hit soon."

"Rakeysh Mehra recently told me how most of my films will be found in the archives even years later for one reason or the other. Be it Anbe Sivam or Alai Payuthey or Aayitha Ezhuthu or Rang De Basanti or Kannathil Muthamittal ... I am proud that I've been here for five years and done 10 films worth their place in the archives," says Madhavan, who recently scored another hit with his game show `Deal Ya No Deal.' "I had to opt out because there was no way I could give them 10 floating days in a month with my existing commitments," he adds.

Though he has three films to choose from in Hindi post Rang De Basanti, Madhavan plans to concentrate on Tamil this year with Balasekaran's Arya and Madhesh's Sarkar in the pipeline.

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