R. Madhavan (born as Madhavan Ranganathan) is a Filmfare Award-winning Indian actor. Unlike other prominent actors in India, Madhavan began to act after marriage, at the age of twenty-nine, and his short 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 (2003) and, the year after, won critical acclaim as a henchman in Mani Ratnam's film, Aayitha Ezhuthu, his role in which earning him a Indian National Film Award nomination. In 2007, Madhavan set up his own production company, Leukos Films, which will distribute several of his forthcoming 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 minor 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, 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 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
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 do a degree on 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 August 21, 2005, which eventually lead to relocating towards to the boat-club area in Chennai from Kilpauk. Madhavan's parents continue to live with him as do his parents-in-law.
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.