R Madhavan returns from wilderness

When you meet R Madhavan, it's difficult to believe that he's the same actor of Vashu Bhagnani's 'Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein'. The boyish charm has been replaced with an intense grin which settles behind a heavy beard. The once lean frame too has become wider because he's put on several kilos for Rajkumar Hirani's upcoming production. He speaks with a lisp that's so bad that he finds it hard to eat his lunch. "I'm brace-ing up to play a retired boxer in Saala Khadoos," he explains. "Boxers usually develop a speech impediment after landing several hard knocks on their jaw."

Madhavan will be returning to the screen after three years with the sequel of his 2011 hit, 'Tanu Weds Manu', the last film to work for him commercially. After 'Jodi Breakers' with Bipasha Basu flopped the following year, the actor decided to go on a sabbatical to reflect on life.

"I grew my hair long and donned a thick beard which transformed me completely. And virtually unrecognisable I took off to Los Angeles where I did a cameo in a Hollywood film," he reminisces. "I travelled across the US and then returned to India where the journey continued in buses, trains and trams. I lived in small hotels and sometimes in the homes of distant relatives and even strangers." Quiz him on why he needed to take this 'break' and he admits that he was bored with films and wanted to understand people, relationships and romance. "I wanted to learn how youngsters flirt on whatsapp and what a 60-year-old grandmother does on an Ipad. I wanted to discover the meaning of contemporary existence," he philosophises.

And after taking on this mission, did he arrive at any dramatic conclusions? "It was a revelation!" he insists. "Every actor needs to creatively refuel himself, otherwise you live on, but the flame vanishes. After working for 15 years, if the industry and the media and the fans don't miss you, you were never meant to be here. Fortunately, people, both within and outside of industry, are still curious about me. That's why I chose to do Aanand Rai's Tanu Weds Manu Returns."

Was he in touch with his family? "I was and they knew my reasons for going away," he maintains, adding that he was shocked by Gen Next's take on love. "We used to send letters, now kids send a flying kiss on whatsapp late in the night and if the gesture is reciprocated, they are ready to take the relationship forward without any real conversation. It's sad!" Interestingly, he has consciously chosen to return after three years with a film which revolves around a female protagonist, actually two of them. "There's no denying that Kangana will take away the thunder. She's a fantastic actress and I'm jealous of her," he acknowledges candidly. "And this time there's two of her. It all works in the film's favour."

R Madhavan returns from wilderness R Madhavan returns from wilderness Reviewed by Zoe on 12:43 AM Rating: 5

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