Madhavan on being reel-life Bihari, real-life father

Aug 21, 2005 Subhash K. Jha, Aug 21

Mumbai, Aug 21 (IANS) His latest Tamil film "Priyasakhi" has been declared a hit and "Ramji Londonwale" is on the pipeline. But actor Madhavan is really nervous about another production altogether, closer home.

"It is the other whopper of a hit that I'm waiting for," says the chocolate-faced hero, sounding as though he could chew his nails for dinner and lunch. "My wife Sarita is going to have a baby any time now and I can't believe I'm going to be a father."

It is also hard to believe that Tamil's pride speaks fluent Bihari-accented Hindi in his new film "Ramji Londonwale".

"I am a Tamil Brahmin, true. But I spent a majority of my growing years in Jamshedpur in Bihar (now in Jharkhand). In fact I know all the swear words better than even Lalu (Prasad, Railway Minister and Bihar's leading politician). Want to learn some?"

We pass. Maddy, as the actor is fondly known, grins wickedly. There is an innate sense of fun about this affable actor, a quality hardly ever captured in any of the films he has done so far.

"I agree. Most of my films, including my Hindi film "Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein" and "Dil Vil Pyar Vyar" required me to be a lovelorn Majnu. Not that I mind doing that. I am so much in love with my wife... all I have to do is think about her and I get all moony, gushy, mushy and sentimental," Madhavan told IANS in an interview.

A happy married actor? Isn't that a contradiction in terms?

"Why do you say that?" he says defensively.

"Aren't Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan completely devoted to their wives? Look at Dilip Kumar and his wife (Saira Banu)...they have been married forever and still look like a perfect couple. I think marital betrayal is a convenient excuse to let loose your libido. Sure, temptations are thrown my way all the time, literally. All I have to do is think of my wife and it is gone...No hard feelings!"

As Ramji Londonwale, he is a laugh riot. "Do you really think so? It is all because of the writing skills of Kamal Haasan. He wrote the original story and starred in the Tamil film 'Nala Damayanthi' about a Tamil cook in Australia. We turned it around, made the cook Bihari and re-located the film in London. Ramji Londonwale is my tribute to Bihar."

Maddy raves about his director Sanjay Daima. "He assisted Ashutosh Gowariker during 'Lagaan'. I was impressed by his commitment to the art, his ability to tell a goofy story without losing the thread of the original idea. The humour in 'Ramji Londonwale' hinges on perfect timing...and in this I must give credit to my co-star Shamita Bangargi."

Shamita was one among many girls whom Madhavan screen-tested for the role of the London-based la-di-dah Miss with a chip on her shoulder, whom Ramji brings around.

"We thought Soha Ali Khan with her expatriate background would fit in well. But she had date problems. So we got Shamita, who is really good in the film...And what do you know! Soha is my co-star in Rakkesh Mehra's 'Rang De Basanti'!"

Equally comfortable striding the two worlds of Tamil and Hindi cinemas, Madhavan sees the world of showbiz getting smaller. "We need to stop thinking regional, start thinking global. In a way that is what Ramji Londonwala does. He takes his cooking skills from Bihar to England and becomes a hot-shot. Our cinema needs to do that, no? We need to spice up our act."

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