RANA SIDDIQUI & ANUJ KUMAR
He doesn't have a single Hindi film hit but will Madhavan in "Rang De Basanti" prove a winner?
I am in it because it is a team film like `Lagaan.'
A PIVOTAL CAMEO : Madhavan.
A man of good diction and an amiable disposition, he comes across as the boy next-door. In a world full of stars with inflated egos, R. Madhavan is like a whiff of fresh air.
For all his years in the film industry, he is still shy, and quite modest when talking of his accomplishments. Of course, he steers clear of controversy like an adept professional too.
This Bihar-born guy proved his worth with films like "Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein" and "Ramji London Wale," is now cast in "a pivotal cameo" in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's "Rang De Basanti" ready to hit the silver screen this month.
Incidentally, the film had run into some controversy and had to be screened for the Defence Minister for a nod.
So a cameo and how important is it for the film?
"Good to put it this way. I was fed up of questions like `what is your role in the film?' I would just say that the whole structure of the film is based on my cameo. It is only when I enter that the story swivels. I am Flight Lieutenant Ajay Rathod who leaves some disturbing queries in the minds of young vagabonds."
In Rang De Basanti.
We know that his cameo stirred up the whole controversy that surrounded the film with its indications of Purulia Arms Drop case and MIG-21 crash.
Madhavan doesn't deny that but takes the middle path. "It is not a project to malign anyone. It is a film in which we are telling a story and if that carries some indications from somewhere, let it be."
And he is not in the film to score brownie points. "I am in it because it is a team film like `Lagaan.' Can you think of a `Lagaan' without anyone of the characters in the cricket team? To me the only reason for doing the film was that it was an Aamir Khan one and I wanted to see such a movie during my growing years."
"Rang De... " has also attracted the attention of the Animal Welfare Board for using animals, particularly horses, without its permission.
An animal lover and active supporter of PETA, Madhavan again refuses to comment on the increasing strictures on the use of animals in films limiting creativity in the process. "I am going through the details and will comment soon."
"A moody Gemini" as he defines himself, Madhavan realises he doesn't have a single Hindi film hit but is still popular among the North Indian audiences. A following that helped him bag the popular game show "Deal Ya No Deal."
It was actually a homecoming of sorts. At the beginning of his career he did a game show "Tol Mol Ke Bol" and when he returned with "Deal Ya No Deal," people found their affable host had just got better.
Brush with reality
But the show was also his brush with reality. "I saw people winning 20 crores and still being stoic, people breaking down for not making it, it was overwhelming."
He adds, "I know this money is not as important for me. I can make this much doing a few films but those with Rs.20,000 per month salaries can't make it in their life time. It kept me more grounded."
And all those eager to see more of him in Hindi cinema, will have to wait.
Madhavan has decided to do only one Hindi film a year. "South is my bread and butter," he reasons.
Meanwhile, his search for one Hindi film hit continues. Not that he is disappointed. After all, even in "Rang De Basanti," the heroine, Soha Ali Khan is cast opposite him, and not Aamir!
Little wonder then that Madhavan, who spent his growing years in Bihar and courted fame in Mumbai, maintains it doesn't hurt him when he is not asked to play roles in the Hindi versions of his Tamil movies.
. "It doesn't hurt for I have already done the original. When people talk of national appeal they forget that the maximum number of cinema halls are in South India. And ladies in Ludhiana do love me. Isn't it?" Well, who can dispute that!
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