Madhavan, who’s on a high following the good reception meted out to Vikram Vedha, takes time out to discuss his career in a phone conversation with CE
Pushkar-Gayathri’s Vikram Vedha isn’t your average cop-robber story. What sets it apart is the screenplay, background score and the easy chemistry between Vijay Sethupathi and Madhavan. After the massive box office success last year with his critically acclaimed Irudhi Suttru, Maddy returns as a straight-talking cop, Vikram, who doesn’t lose sleep over crossing the line to kill a baddie. The chocolate-boy-romantic-hero is nowhere seen in the film, but we are not complaining...his charisma is irresistible. Rave reviews have been pouring in — both from critics and audiences — and the film is already declared a superhit. Maddy is ecstatic and his usual affable, chatty-self when we spoke to him recently.
Vikram Vedha isn’t your typical Tamil film.
All my films have been different, I guess. Vikram Vedha’s script, based on the Vikram-Betal stories, intrigued me. I was lured by the interesting clash of characters. I play a cop who is convinced he’s right. On the other side, there’s Vijay Sethupathi, who plays this fantastic bad guy. Avar panra vishyangalil oru nyaayam irukum (His actions are justified). The film is about an exploration of good and bad. You will find it difficult to say who of us is right in the film.
Multi-starrers aren’t new to you, of course.
Most of my films have been multi-starrers, including Aaytha Ezhuthu, Guru, and Rang De Basanti. I don’t have any issue being a part of them. I’ve never worried about being overshadowed by my co-stars. I only concentrate on my role. When you’re a part of such projects, you only think of working together and getting the best out of each other.
You are one of the few South Indian heroes to have tasted success in Bollywood.
Yes, I am a South Indian, but that doesn’t really matter. Rajini sir and Kamal sir did very well in Bollywood too. I’ve been fortunate to have appealed to a pan-Indian audience. My selective approach to films has always been an effort to stay relevant. This generation moves on quickly, and sometimes actors can get left behind.
Your choice of roles no longer seems to include the conventional hero who dances in duets.
I am done with all that. I am 48, and it would be odd to dance with girls half my age. Let’s be practical. An actor needs to introspect and engage in serious cinema too, if only to test himself as a performer. Overall, the script I pick has to be intelligent, appropriate for my age, and appeal to all sections of the audience. I enjoy what I do and I do what I feel from my heart.
The world is full of hatred, man. Let’s spread some love, peace, and happiness. That’s what I try to do on Twitter.
I have a simple definition for a bad film. It is one that doesn’t creatively excite me.
I can confirm I’m doing Sargunam’s film. I’m also quite excited by Chanda Mama Door Ke, a sci-fi Hindi film I’m part of.
What was it to like to work with Vijay Sethupathi, and the director-duo, Pushkar-Gayathri?
As a team, we bonded easily. I found Vijay to be extremely humble. And I don’t think I could have done his character. It was perfect for him. I’d say that after Kamal Haasan, Vijay Sethupathi is the best we have.
The team I work with is important for me. Before I sign a project, I spend a lot of time with the directors. I try to know them, their abilities. Naan avungala test pannuven; torture pannirken pesi (I test them; torture them with conversations). They wouldn’t even know I was doing that. (Laughs) I haven’t walked out of a film once. That’s because I know my directors. Pushkar and Gayathri complement each other well. It never felt like I was working with a duo.
Irudhi Suttru. Now, Vikram Vedha. You seem to be getting a lot of great scripts these days.
When a story appeals to me, I often hound the director and convince them. Tanu Weds Manu, 13B, Irudhi Suttru… all these projects happened like that. I think that’s how good films are made. Content is more important than stars. I want to work with new directors who’re open to experimenting and ideas.
Any regrets missing out on projects?
Not at all. But I guess I can say I failed to foresee the failure of some films. That’s sad.
You are also working on Breath, a web series for Amazon Prime.
As an artiste, I believe in re-inventing myself. I am not the only one to do so. Look at Kamal sir. He’s hosting Bigg Boss in Tamil and has made it popular. We have a very discerning audience here who expect value for money. I am game for all kinds of innovation. The series I’m working on is bigger than any of the films I’ve done so far.