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Madhavan in a Malayalam-English bilingual

By Subhash K Jha
June 28, 2004 11:54 IST
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After working in Mani Ratnam's bilingual, Aayutha Ezhuthu (Yuva in Hindi), Tamil star Madhavan is working on yet another. This time, it is the Hindi version of his Tamil film, Nala Damayanti, and the film is titled Ramji Londonwale.

"I can't figure out why this [him working in bilinguals] is happening," grins Madhavan.

Just back in India after a month-and-a-half-long schedule of Ramji... in London, he says, "Eighty-five per cent of the film is complete. Actually, the London schedule started on a disastrous note: half the crew got to London, while the other half was still waiting for their visas. But once everyone joined us, it was as if the Gods had smiled on us. The weather became bright and sunny, with 14 hours of sunlight every day. We managed to complete everything on time. The turning point in our London schedule was when music composer Vishal Bhardwaj sent us three songs in London."

The reason why many films are now being shot in London, he says, is because the British government is offering many concessions and advantages. He adds, "The Tamil version cost less, but the Hindi version is far superior in terms of plot and treatment. Besides, London is more romantic than Australia, where we shot Nala Damayanti. And the music in the Hindi version is phenomenally superior."

Madhavan says he enjoys the challenge of remakes. "Earlier, I appeared in Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein, the Hindi version of my Tamil hit, Minnalae. But that was a faithful remake. Ramji Londonwale is an adaptation. Since we have translocated the original character from Tamil Nadu to Bihar, the entire dialect changed. And since I am originally from Bihar [he grew up in Bihar], the Bihari language was not a problem. Coincidentally, most of the supporting parts in the film are played by Biharis, including walk-on parts by Indians in London."

Madhavan has returned to India with two Tamil hits, Aitheree and Aayutha Ezhuthu. He is particularly protective of the latter. "I know how hard Mani Sir worked on the film. I prayed for both the Hindi and Tamil versions to do well. I am very happy for the acclaim Yuva got Abhishek [Bachchan, who essayed the role of Lallan Singh in Yuva, to Madhavan's Inba]. He deserves every bit of it. Both of us scored basically because we had such well-written roles. I also liked Kareena [Kapoor, who played the free-spirited Meera] in Yuva. She was brilliant."

Madhavan adds, "I am off to New Mexico this week to shoot a Malayalam-English film. This is my first film in both languages. It is directed by Rajeev Anchal, who directed the Malayalam-English hit Guru. It is about two people who meet in a suicide ward after trying to end their lives. It isn't a depressing film. It is a celebration of life. Neha, a new girl, plays the lead opposite me. But I must tell you Samita Bangargi, who stars opposite me in Ramji London-wale is just too good. This film will make her a star."

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Subhash K Jha