R. Madhavan has put his sweat, blood and money on line for his pet-project ‘Saala Khadoos’. In a conversation with IndianExpress.com, the ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ actor recollects the difficulties he faced while piecing the project together.
Ques: Is this is the first time you have got really deep into the skin of your character and lived it for a long time?
Madhavan: The second part of your question is true. I have lived it for a long time. But I think all the films that I have done till date, I do get into the skin of the character. I am saying it because I have my limitations with the kind of things I can do onscreen to entertain people. I can’t dance like Hrithik Roshan. I don’t have the necessary glamour like some of the other actors do. They are able to sell themselves on that aspect. I do roles and films which are very realistic. So, in those films if you don’t get into the skin of it, they won’t look convincing. If I look like a six-pack replete warrior in Tanu Weds Manu, viewers are not going accept me. If I am not looking like a 21-year-old student in 3 Idiots, they will think what kind of films I am acting in. So, I try to get into the skin of every character that I do but yes this one was very challenging. (Read: Saala Khadoos actor R. Madhavan demands separate governing body for boxing)
Ques: Why did you collaborate with Rajkumar Hirani?
Madhavan: I went through a lot of turmoil before I could get this film rolling. I was attempting something different and I had all the faith and belief in my director but people were not able to see it. I had gone and trained for two years, grew my hair, built my physique but every time I came to an understanding with a producer, it would fall through, They would say, ‘Maddy, why don’t you change the director, she doesn’t know Hindi. Change the heroine as she is not popular. Maddy why don’t you direct it? These are the changes that I was not interested in doing. So, it came to a point where I spent many teary-eyed nights sitting in my bed and thinking what the hell am I doing. Am I the only idiot who can see through this film? (Also read: Madhavan, Ritika Singh promote ‘Saala Khadoos’ in unique style)
“My wife supported me during those days. She told me that it wouldn’t matter even if we came back to that one bedroom apartment in Mumbai where we started from. I saw my wife telling our son that we can’t go on holidays because he has to study but the truth was that I didn’t have any money as I had put everything into the film. Then there came a point when I wanted to give it up since it was not happening. The last contract I was supposed to sign with a producer fell through because they wanted some ridiculous changes. I was disappointed. I spoke to a friend of mine in the US. He became bankrupt twice and for the third time he successfully sold his company for Rs 900 crores. When I spoke to him, he said, ‘My success story is when I became bankrupt and didn’t give up.’ He told me, ‘When you come so far, if you give up now, you will never come this far again. And that is when it hit me and I decided to give it one last shot. I thought I should go and narrate the script to Raju (Rajkumar Hirani) and see if he reacts in the same way as I react to it. We met late at night. When I started narrating the subject, he took a pen and pad and said tell me in detail. As I narrated, he started making notes. At interval time, he said, ‘Bloody hell, kamaal ki script hai yaar.’ He wanted me to continue without taking a break. When I narrated the second half, I saw a sight I will never forget. He was erasing all doutful points he had jotted down. As I finished the climax, he had tears in his eyes and he came and gave me a tight hug and said I have never heard a script like this. How can I help you? I told him, ‘Sir I wanted to see this reaction. You leave the rest to me.’ And he became the pillar of my strength from writing the script, to taking care of the censor, he never let me felt the pressure of producer.
Ques: Any problems with the censor board?
Madhavan: The film’s been censored. There were minor words that needed to be altered. In Tamil, we have a U certificate and in Hindi we have a U/A. (Read: R. Madhavan, Rajkumar Hirani have planned event to introduce female lead of ‘Saala Khadoos’)
Ques: Why is the certification different for Tamil and Hindi?
Madhavan: In Hindi, some words can sound cruder. In Tamil, if we say ‘bhajan ke liye gaye hain’ the local meaning is that they have gone to bang each other. In Hindi, ‘pich**** main daal do is pich**** main daal do’. The girl had to say that. The board said it is a Hindi film and we can’t use ‘pichwada’. So, we had to use a more docile term.
Ques: You are one of the few actors from the current times after Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan to have made a successful career both in Hindi and Tamil industry.
Madhavan: (Cuts in) I think it is unfair to say that. I was lucky that I was brought up in the Hindi belt which they didn’t have . I have been lucky that in the south that they have accepted me as the south hero. I am more of a Hindi north belt guy. I write my dialogues in Hindi. I have written the dialogues for this film as well. My Hindi is good. So, there was never any doubt that I was not a Hindi guy.
Ques: Is the South Industry now opening up to the male superstars of Hindi film industry?
Madhavan: They will never be open to that idea.
Madhavan:You have to understand that north will never open up to a south hero. As long as Dhanush is playing a Madrasi they will accept him. But if someone who is a south Indian and is speaking Haryanvi and there is south Indian accent dripping all over it, how will that be accepted? That is not going to happen. Look at ‘Tanu Weds Manu’. Initially, Anand L Rai had someone else in mind but I told him you can’t take anyone else but Kangana because she is the pahadi girl and will get her act right. So, we waited for Kangana because she was the right person. The casting was so refined in the film.
Ques: Saala Khadoos is releasing alongside Mastizaade which is a sex-comedy. Any concerns regarding the box-office clash?
Madhavan: If we were to release with 2000 prints, then it is capable of collecting Rs 45 lakhs over the weekend. If I get half of that sum, I will be happy.
Saala Khadoos, which marks the debut of boxer Ritika Singh, is going to release on January 29.