`Fans love me despite... '

The metamorphosis hits you in the face. With his long hair and stubble, he now appears nothing like tinselville's chocolate hero. Yet the teeming crowds at The Hindu Metroplus Lifestyle Show at the Chennai Trade Centre instantly recognised Maddy when he walked in for a live Take Two. Not surprisingly, business came to a brief halt as the crowd gathered around to take a closer look at the star. Girls stared unblinkingly. Some of them seized the moment on their cellphone cameras. A few mothers pleaded with the star to hold their babies as they went click, click, click. Maddy obliged them all with his dimpled smile. Hits or flops, Maddy seems to be the flavour of all seasons.

Waiting eagerly to chat with him was the tall and tonsured Bosskey. Many men ran up to the television anchor, known for his satirical humour, and complimented him for his show "Hari Giri Assembly" and "Siri Giri". "Oh! Please make your wives also watch my programme. Otherwise the soap operas will wipe away their laugh lines," he chuckled. When he got the mike in his hand, Bosskey got into quizzing mode and Maddy answered the flood of questions with cool confidence. Chitra Swaminathan took notes.

Bosskey: (Hinting at his new hairdo) Are you playing the role of M. K.Thyagaraja Bhagavatar?

Maddy: This get up is for my next film "Thambi". Anyway I like to grow my hair. Sometimes you get a thrill out of such trivial things.

Bosskey: But why are you looking at my bald pate?

Maddy: Wondering whether it is empty inside too!

Bosskey: Where is the Take Two heading? Let's get serious. These days most celebrities in Tamil Nadu seem to be spending more time abroad. Whoever you call up is either in London, America or Australia. Why are you all running away from your roots?

Maddy: Nobody wants to leave namma Madras. It just goes to show our growing importance culturally across the seas.

Bosskey: Aren't you excited about your other forthcoming release?

Maddy: Father (with a mischievous smile)? I mean I will soon become one.

Bosskey: All ye girls, stop dreaming about Maddy.

Maddy: Don't worry, they will not be heart broken because for them `only Maddy matters." (ha, ha, ha... ) They have loved me despite my being married and will continue to do so when I become a father. My wife and child will never mind sharing space with my fans.

Bosskey: Tell me, how do you manage to get slim heroines in your films?

Maddy: Thankfully, I don't need to strain my muscles to lift them during romantic scenes.

Bosskey: When you select scripts, do you go by people's taste or personal preferences?

Maddy: The entire industry functions according to filmgoers' wishes. Sometimes it's difficult making a choice. As some like romance, some fights, others kissing scenes...

Bosskey: Do you mind kissing on screen?

Maddy: With so many women around it's not safe to discuss this topic here.

Bosskey: Nowadays a new hero hits the screen almost every Friday. How are you coping with the increasing competition?

Maddy: As long as none of them has a film releasing every Friday it is fine. (The sweet smile flickers again) Anyway I am bad at keeping count, whether financial or film releases.

Bosskey: After a string of hits some of your films didn't do well at the box-office?

Maddy: "Alaipayuthe", "Minnalae", "Run", "Kannathil Muthamittal", "Anbe Sivam", "Nala Damayanti"... I cannot look at any of these films as failures even if some of them have not been commercially successful. The challenge is to do quality work in the face of competition.

Bosskey: What about comedy actors getting as big a role as the heroes. Sometimes they even seem to overshadow the hero?

Maddy: If their presence works wonders at the box-office, so be it, nobody's complaining. After all, everybody wants to be associated with successful films.

Bosskey: If you are allowed to pick up something free of cost in this exhibition, what will you go in for?

Maddy: Diamond jewellery. (The interview happened in the Diamond Trading Company enclosure)

Bosskey: What is it you like in Kamal Haasan?

Maddy: His bhakti for work, 24x7 creativity and high energy level.

Bosskey: If not an actor what would you have been?

Maddy: In the Army.

Bosskey: Suppose you are made the coach of the Indian cricket team, what will you do to make Saurav Ganguly score at least one run?

Maddy: This is really unfair. Two years back you treated him like a national hero. Today when his career is going through a low you cannot treat him like a zero.

Bosskey: Imagine tomorrow morning we get up and look into the mirror to find that our hairstyles have got swapped!

Maddy: It will be Ayitha Ezhuthu Part II!

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