I know this is something we have all been concerned about, R. Madhavan’s ever developing style of attractiveness. And, almost as important, the ever developing relationship between Hindi and non-Hindi films in India.
I’ll save Madhavan for dessert, after you’ve had your good nutrients of industry analysis.
There is a new Maddy movie coming out (yay!) produced by Y Not Films, the same group that produced Saaala Khadoos/Irudhi Suttru (sp?). I saw the teaser ages ago, in theaters, which was surprising. Because I don’t usually watch non-Hindi films in theaters, which means it was attached to a Hindi film. And now this trailer is out, and I know about it because Shahrukh and a bunch of other Hindi film types re-tweeted it.
Saala Khadoos, if you remember, was a really odd and interesting production/release history. It was made simultaneously in Tamil and Hindi. And then released dubbed in even more languages (I know Malayalam, but maybe more). And in Hindi it did okay, but it was a smash hit in Tamil and some of the other languages.
And now they are trying the same thing again. Only this time, no Hindi version (I don’t think). And no crossover type actors either. Saala Khadoos, that was all about Madhavan. But his co-star, Ritika Singh, she had an equally large part, and she was from the north. In this film, it is Madhavan and another equally big (or bigger? I don’t know Tamil film as well as I should) Tamil actor.
But it is still an all-India style plot. In Saala Khadoos, it was about sports and Indian exceptionalism and so on, everyone can enjoy that. This film looks to be a cop and criminal story, familiar in every region and every language film industry.
But the biggest part of the release is that I know about it! Me, the most important person in the world! Not really, but I am a good representation of an important audience, the overseas group who is primarily interested in Hindi films. And buzz about this movie has made it into my little bubble, on Shahrukh’s twitter, at my Hindi film theaters in America.
Which brings me to Madhavan! I am sure it is not just him pushing this all-India audience policy. But he is a big part of it, because he is one of the few stars to have all-India recognition. Not just recognition, friendships! He didn’t just come up for a couple scenes in a Hindi film, he stuck around, went to the parties, met with the people. And now when his movie is coming out, he can pull on those threads, ask his friends from Bombay to help him out. And count on the audience that has been watching him for years to turn out and show interest.
Which brings me to the fun part! Watching Madhavan.
Remember when he first burst on the scene in Alai Payuthay? He had this really striking look, like his bones were too big for his skin. I always thought he was playing his own age, 21-22, because of that. Because that’s how young men look a lot of the time, their body is developing so fast that the adult male frame is sort of piercing through the baby skin. Only, no! Madhavan was like 30! He just developed differently, this huge frame and soft skin well into adulthood.
As the years went by, the rest of his body caught up with his frame. Which lead to exciting changing flavors of Madhavan! There was the fighter pilot in Rang De Basanti, whose larger frame loomed over the younger men, showing how he was truly A Man in every sense, while they were just little boys.
There was Guru, where he is frankly heartstoppingly beautiful. The period clothing slightly accenting his leaner frame, but still with that heavier face to show his additional maturity.
And then there was Tanu Weds Manu. The introduction of teddy bear Madhavan. A little rumpled, a little overweight, very cuddly.
Even more cuddly in Vettai, where kind of the whole point was how sweet and cuddly and gentle he was. Any other actor, it would have just come off as a coward. But with Maddy, well, we can forgive his little moments of weakness. He just needs us to protect him! Let other people pick Arya, that hard tough guy, sometimes you just want a guy who needs you.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns, this might be a slight miss-step in the Madhavan development. An angry teddy bear is something no one wants. Feel free to disagree!
But then he handpicked his next role, and suddenly everything clicked into place. No more Maddy the teddy bear! No, it’s time for Maddy the straight up BEAR. Wild, unkempt, violent, angry, protective, and not safe for regular society.
And now we have this film! Same production studio as the last one, and Madhavan is co-producing again. And it looks GOOD. He is that same Bear from before, but a Bear that is trying to go undercover in regular society. His bones are poking through again, and his hair is technically styled, but it wants to go a little wild. Everything about him wants to go a little wild, but is trying to hide it. I like this Madhavan! Kind of the mirror image of Alai Payuthay. In that film, his look told us that the full grown man was trying to burst through his boy-child outer coating. In this one, the angry wild younger man is trying to burst through the restrained mature man coating.