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Runaway success?

Madhavan shot to limelight with Mani Ratnam's `Alaipayuthe'. The `heart-throb' 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'?


MINTY COOL: Will `Dil Vil... ' do a `Alaipayuthe' for Madhavan?

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 Dumm Dumm Dumm, as 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 Terre Dil Mein (RHTDM) the Hindi remake of Minnale sunk without a trace. The writing on the wall was clear that he had to woo back his college crowd audience in TamilNadu. 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' legion of fans? A tete-a-tete with the teen idol at his swanky apartment in Kilpauk, Chennai.

Is the `Maddy mania' over, as 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 Dumm Dumm Dumm have done extremely well all over TamilNadu. Kannathil Muthamittal created an overseas market for me.

How did Kannathil Muthamittal create an overseas market for you?

The film may not be a big commercial hit, but it has given me fame and recognition as an actor. The film 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 as I browse the net and in fact the suggestion that I do an action film came from my fans over the net. There are about 2800 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. 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, which is told in a fast paced manner. The film is likely to be a hit as the producer A.M.Ratnam has marketed it well.

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

It was Mani Ratnam, my mentor 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 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 I 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 Kamalhassan. Don't you feel that 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 upon. It is a part of my education and I don't think one-man 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 excites me. My next release Dil Vil Pyaar Vyar for director Anant Mahadevan, is a unique musical love story which is a tribute to the legendary music director R.D.Burman.

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

What are your forthcoming Tamil projects?

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

SREEDHAR PILLAI

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