R. Madhavan (Tamil: ர.மாதவன், born 1 June 1970 as Madhavan Ranganathan) is an Indian actor who has appeared in Indian films in seven languages, predominantly Tamil and Hindi. Unlike other prominent actors in India, Madhavan began to appear in films after marriage, at the age of twenty-nine, and his career has seen performances in diverse roles. He has received several Filmfare Awards in various categories.
Madhavan's first major film appearance was in 2000s romantic film, Alaipayuthey, in which he played a husband going through the trauma of marriage. In the 2002 blockbuster Kannathil Muthamittal, he portrayed a father of an orphaned child alongside Simran. He then played the role of an action hero, for the first time in the successful project, Run (2002) and, the year after, won critical acclaim as a henchman in Mani Ratnam's film, Aayutha Ezhuthu. In 2007, Madhavan set up his own production company, Leukos Films, which will distribute several of his forthcoming films. In recent years, Madhavan has also appeared in Hindi films appearing in three blockbusters, Rang De Basanti, Guru and 3 Idiots amongst other critically acclaimed films.
Madhavan, a Tamilian, has taken an activist role in supporting various political and social causes. He appeared in PETA advertising, campaigning against cruelty towards animals, and has promoted vegetarianism causes.
Early life and education
Madhavan was born in Jamshedpur, India, to a senior management executive with Tata Steel, Ranganathan and a manager with the Bank of India, Saroja. Devika Ranganathan, Madhavan's sister, is a software engineer settled in London, United Kingdom. In 1988, Madhavan was chosen to represent India as its cultural ambassador from his college to Canada after his graduation. At 22, he was awarded the Maharashtra Best Cadet, allowing him to make a trip with three others as NCC Cadets to England. Because of this honour, he received training with the Royal Army, the Navy and the Air Force, which he previously planned to join. However he was rejected from the opportunity, as he missed the age cut-off by six months. After he lost out on the place, he began taking courses in public speaking which eventually helped him venture into the film industry. He won the Indian Championship for Public Speaking and was subsequently selected to represent India at the Young Businessmen Conference in Tokyo, Japan in 1992.
In early 1997, Madhavan did a sandalwood talc advertisement for Santosh Sivan, who later recommended him to Mani Ratnam for a screen test for a role in Iruvar. Later in the same year, Mani Ratnam called Madhavan for the screen test, but left him out of the project citing that he thought his eyes looked too young for a senior role. As his film career, failed to take off, Madhavan reverted to act in Hindi television serials. He appeared in major roles in serials titled Saaya, Sea Hawks, Banegi Apni Baat, Tol Mol Ke Bol and Ghar Jamai.
In 1998, Madhavan appeared in his first film role as an Indian police officer in Fred Olen Ray's Inferno alongside Don Wilson. His first chance in Indian movies came in the form of Shanti Shanti Shanti, a Kannada film, in which he acted in the second lead role to Abbas, an established actor. However, the film failed to make an impact, and went unnoticed.
Bollywood director, Vinod Pandey launched Madhavan as a Bollywood hero, with a project titled Lakheli, however the film was abandoned by the producers soon after production began and the film was cancelled.
Alaipayuthey marked Madhavan's big break in cinema. The project directed by Mani Ratnam, became a critical and commercial success.Alaipayuthey, Madhavan's second Indian film became a blockbuster upon release and earned positive reviews from critics. In Alaipayuthey, paired with Shalini Kumar, he portrayed to role of "Karthik", a husband experiencing difficulties with his marriage. Madhavan's performance was well-received by critics and the film became a cult hit, leaving way to several spoofs of his character. A critic, Balaji Balasubramaniam of BBreviews.com claimed that "Madhavan is promising in his debut feature and his character is designed to set hearts aflutter", praising Madhavan and his characterization. After the success of his first Tamil film, the producers of his previous Kannada film, Shanti Shanti Shanti, dubbed the film into Tamil and released it as Relax, to capitulate on Madhavan's new found success. Madhavan's second lead role was in Ennavale, a film ignored by critics and audience alike. Madhavan's choice to be a part of this film, was unappreciated and one critic claimed, "With Madhavan being hot property in Kodambakkam ever since Alaipayuthey, his second movie was highly anticipated. But unless he selects stories and scripts that are much better than Ennavale, his stay might be a short-lived one". Madhavan had more success starring opposite Reema Sen in Minnale, which was later remade into Hindi as Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein marking Madhavan's debut in Bollywood; he also played in Madras Talkies' Dumm Dumm Dumm with Jyothika Saravanan. Both films became successes and Madhavan became established as a bankable actor in South India. Madhavan later starred in Parthale Paravasam, the hundredth venture of veteran director, K. Balachander. Madhavan, in the film, acted as a husband in troubling marriage, again, after Alaipayuthey. Despite being highly anticipated, the film flopped at the box-office, with critics labelling that Madhavan looked "rather bored" with the proceedings.
Following Parthale Paravasam, Madhavan starred opposite Simran Bagga in his third Mani Ratnam production, Kannathil Muthamittal. He portrayed the role of a father of an adopted child, who wishes to return to her native homeland amid a civil war. The film, became a trend-setting film in Tamil cinema and managed to win six National Awards as well as over ten awards at various International Film Festivals around the world. Madhavan gained a particular praise for putting in a mature display. Madhavan's next large success came in Run, a film recognized for its screenplay, Madhavan appeared as an action hero for the maiden time in his career.
The success of Run, became Madhavan's final major hit for a while, several films of his were critically acclaimed but failed to perform commercially. Anbe Sivam, co-starring Kamal Haasan, was critically praised but failed to become a grosser. Several critics claimed that Madhavan's performance as a frustrated ad-maker, lived up to the title role of Kamal Haasan's. Kamal Haasan's home production, Nala Damayanthi and Vikraman's Priyamana Thozhi, failed to live up to their anticipated values but Madhavan's performance in the films were appreciated. A guest role followed in Lesa Lesa, and two more average films in Jay Jay and Aethiree followed. Madhavan's career as an actor, became even more distraught after his English film, Nothing But Life, also failed to become a grosser.
Aayutha Ezhuthu and the future
2004, despite starting poorly, was a very prolific year for Madhavan, who starred in the films Aethiree, Nothing But Life, and the critically acclaimed Aayutha Ezhuthu. After Aethiree failed, Madhavan banked upon Nothing But Life, an English film, to divert him back into a career of stardom. But it also failed, leaving Madhavan offerless. However, Mani Ratnam selected Madhavan to play a lead role in his forthcoming bilingual. The film was made as Aayutha Ezhuthu in Tamil and Yuva in Hindi, with only Esha Deol reprising her role in both versions. Apart from Deol, others in the multi-starrer were also actors who had been going through a rough patch. Surya Sivakumar, Siddharth Narayan, Meera Jasmine and Trisha Krishnan made up the rest of the cast. His character, Inba Sekhar, was a hitman living in the slums of Chennai, who eventually went on to help a politician gain power. However, Inba Sekhar's wife, Sasi, desperately tried to claw him away from his profession only to be beaten, thrown out and then come back crawling again.
Madhavan has stated that the role he played, was the role which he had experienced and enjoyed the most. He received praise from critics, claiming he outplayed Abhishek Bachchan's interpretation of the character in the other version, Yuva. Madhavan won the South Indian Filmfare Award for the Best Supporting Actor.
Priyasakhi followed in 2005, co-starring Sadha - with the pair playing an estranged husband and wife. The film received praise for the lead actors and became the first Tamil language to be dubbed into Zulu. Ramji Londonwaley, the remake of Nala Damayanthi was released in Bollywood and became an average grosser.
Madhavan on the sets of Guru En Aalu (2008)In 2006, Madhavan recorded three commercial successes with Rang De Basanti, Thambi and Rendu. His appearance in vital cameo role, in Rang De Basanti, was appreciated by film critics, earning him his first major hit in Bollywood. Thambi was shot for over a year and was badly delayed, however despite a poor opening, the film managed to make a remarkable comeback and prove to be a big hit in town and village centres. Madhavan's portrayal of the do-gooder, received mixed reviews from critics. In Rendu, Madhavan appeared in his first dual role in his career. The film became one of Madhavan's biggest successes. Guru, Madhavan's fifth film under Mani Ratnam's production, saw him in the role of real-life journalist S. Gurumurthy. Guru, which was one of Bollywood's biggest hits of 2007, was a bio-pic of the life of business tycoon, Dhirubhai Ambani. After playing a guest role as himself in Delhi Heights, his first Tamil release of the year, Aarya received mixed reviews, though it became a success at the box-office. Throughout the last quarter of 2007, Madhavan along with his co-stars of Evano Oruvan, toured the world promoting the film, which therefore became the first Tamil film to be screened abroad prior to release in India. Madhavan later bought the film, with his new production company, Leukos Films. Evano Oruvan released in December 2007 to average collections at the box-office, where as critics such as The Hindu dubbed the film as "Madhavan's best performance".
Madhavan's first release of 2008, was in Seeman's Vaazhthukal with Bhavana, which went on to become Madhavan's biggest failure. This was followed with a cameo appearance with other prominent actors in the documentary film, Herova? Zerova?. Madhavan's final release of the year was the docudrama Mumbai Meri Jaan, again by Kamath, based upon the 2006 Mumbai Bombings. The film, which pitted him with Soha Ali Khan, Irrfan Khan and Kay Kay Menon, became a critically acclaimed venture with Madhavan's portrayal of a man with a post-traumatic stress disorder being appreciated. Madhavan secured his first individual success for the first time in three years with Vikram Kumar's bilingual horror film, Yavarum Nalam. The film, which became a commercial and critical success upon release won Madhavan plaudits, with Times of India reviews claiming that "he carried the film on his shoulders". His next, the romantic comedy Guru En Aalu, became an average grosser, whilst his subsequent Hindi release, Sikandar, in which Madhavan essayed a supporting role of an army officer also met with a similar fate. Madhavan's final release of the decade was the Aamir Khan starrer, 3 Idiots, in which he had portrayed a supporting lead role. The film upon release became a critical and commercial blockbuster, becoming the highest grossing Indian film of all time, with Madhavan's portrayal of Farhan Qureshi being appreciated by critics as well as earning him award nominations.
Madhavan has five films in 2010 with the earliest being, the long-delayed Naan Aval Adhu, while his Hindi film, Teen Patti portrays him as a professor in roles alongside Amitabh Bachchan and Ben Kingsley. The third film, is another much delayed Hindi-Bengali bilingual Sunglass, directed by Rituparno Ghosh, Tanu Weds Manu with Kangana Ranaut is also in production. The fifth being Yavarum Kaelir, alongside Kamal Hassan for the second time after Anbe Sivam. Several other long pending films have been announced by Madhavan, including a bio-pic of painter, Raja Ravi Varma; a sequel to his bilingual 13B and an English film with Deepa Mehta as director.
Ranganathan and Saroja, parents of Madhavan, disliked their son's foray into teledramas and adverts, however were forgiving after his selection in Mani Ratnam's Alaipayuthey. Despite Madhavan's ambition of wanting to join the army, his parents insisted he went to management school and pursue a degree in electronics. After completing the degree, he went on to teach communication and public speaking at workshops around India. At the Maharashtra workshop, he encountered his wife, Sarita Birje, an air hostess, whom he married in 1999.
Their first son, Vedant was born on 21 August 2005, which eventually led to relocating towards to the boat-club area in Chennai from Kilpauk. Madhavan's parents lived with him as did his parents-in-law. In 2009, he relocated to Kandivali, Mumbai with his wife and son, as he pursued a career in Hindi films ahead of films in the South Indian industries.
Madhavan, despite coming into the film industry after marriage, has a huge following of female fans. However, he constantly confirms his love and passion for his wife, Sarita.
After having his first on-screen kiss in Guru with Vidya Balan. Originally she was first picked for Madhavan's Run, only to be turned away for Meera Jasmine. After establishing herself as a leading actress, she starred opposite Madhavan in Guru. Other films such as Suryamukhi, Stella, Once More and Oru Naal Podhuma were announced with the pair of them in the lead roles only to cancelled or for either actor to be replaced. Neither have them have denied it, however Madhavan has claimed that the kiss will be his first and last on-screen. The couple, later appeared in an advertisement for Airtel, with their on screen chemistry being praised.
Another actress, Bhavana Balachandran, is a self acclaimed fan of Madhavan's. Despite making a statement that she will refuse to act with the same actor twice to avoid romantic links, she has signed up two films with Madhavan. He is also known for his recommendations of other actresses to directors, referring Reema Sen and Sadha.
PETA and other interests
Madhavan, who is a vegetarian, endorses the brand, PETA. Since joining them after starring in his first film, he has appeared voluntarily in several advertisements and released an E-Card for the brand. In July 2006, Madhavan was voted the "cutest male vegetarian" by an online poll conducted by the NGO, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), while Kareena Kapoor won the female award respectively.
Despite winning the public-voted poll, Madhavan was then questioned at his home for keeping an African parrot as a pet. The pet was not confiscated, with Madhavan labelling as himself as an animal lover with two dogs and a parrot, which he claimed was like his "second son".
In July 2006, Paradox Studios Limited launched a new game compatible with mobile phones, with Madhavan as the lead character.
The company released two mobile game titles featuring Madhavan as their lead character. Madhavan attended
The first of the two games, Madhavan's MIG, featured the actor making a reprise of his Rang De Basanti pilot's role. In the other game titled Madhavan, the player had to help the actor get to the premiere of his latest movie evading the paparazzi.
Game show hosting
Madhavan was announced as the host of Sony Entertainment Television's Deal Ya No Deal, the Indian version of the American game show Deal Or No Deal, in October 2005.
However Madhavan quit as the lead anchor of the game show, Deal Ya No Deal in January 2006. Madhavan claimed he was "unhappy with the way the shoot schedules were handled by the production house". According to the actor, when he took on the show, he had "made it clear that he would continue with his South film assignments, and as the show was being filmed in Mumbai, he had found it hard to keep travelling throughout India from Chennai to film the ten days a month he had signed up for". The ever-changing look of the show meant Madhavan had to constantly rehearse. Madhavan also added that he was restricted by the producers to spend one day rehearsing technically, which left him with fatigue.
There were also some times, like when he shot for the show immediately after the funeral of his grandfather, when there was a celebrity special. Mandira Bedi replaced Madhavan as the anchor in February for Series 2 of the game show. Since then she has also left the set-up for personal reasons. He has also been a guest judge, in the Indian television show, Fame Gurukul