Actor R Madhavan doesn’t shy away from revealing a secret. The actor, who has worked in Tamil and Hindi film industries for over two decades, says he has been on film sets where he has not pushed himself hard enough, but surprisingly those projects have been successful, leaving him completely puzzled.
Madhavan shot to fame with Mani Ratnam’s Tamil romantic drama Alaipayuthey and was later introduced to the Hindi audience with his cult classic Rehna Hai Terre Dil Mein. The actor has continued to balance his film career in the two languages, which he says often leads to overlap.
“I do films in two languages, so there are a lot of chances that I will look at something and feel I have done it before,” Madhavan tells Indianexpress.com. Over the years of working in the industry, Madhavan says actors know what is going to happen on a project the first day they arrive on sets.
“You realise that you are ready to give your best but other things are not aligning. Then you feel that you should just take your cheque, finish the work and leave. It is a horrible feeling to have, especially at this stage of my life. If I realise that I have done something in Hindi which the Tamil audience haven’t seen or vice versa, I think how can I infuse more life to my character that will keep my juices flowing.
“Unfortunately, and very embarrassingly, I have done projects which when I look at them, I can see that I am sleepwalking through the whole thing. You know what’s the worst part? It will do well! Then all your orientation goes for a toss, you wonder what is right or wrong. So, if I can sleepwalk through a project and is something I have done before, it is disqualified for me,” he adds.
R Madhavan is now seen in Netflix’s recent drama thriller The Railway Men. The series, which marks the streaming debut of Yash Raj Films, is billed as an untold story of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy and follows brave railway workers, who risked their lives to save others.
When the project came his way, however, Madhavn thought it would be in the zone of what YRF is mostly known– larger than life romantic dramas with chiffon sarees and beautiful location.
“After being in the industry for such a long time, one wants to keep the pedigree of the work that you are doing. You don’t want to be forced for the sake of money or anything else to do something that isn’t of the league that you had the fortune of doing earlier. Which means that the project has to be of a certain quality. So, when Yash Raj Films came to me, I was very happy. I thought, ‘Finally man, there will be chiffon sarees, clean sets, beautiful people.
“Then I was told that it is a series for Netflix, and I thought ok, which country are we shooting in and they told me it will be shot here. But then I heard the material, realised the amount of research that went into it and then you get, what the Gen Z calls, FOMO. You don’t want to miss out being a part of something which instinctively tells you is going to become historical. I have been fortunate enough to pick projects that I am able to believe will have a lasting effect and this was right up the alley,” he adds.
Directed by Shiv Rawail, The Railway Men also stars Kay Kay Menon, Divyendu Sharma and features guest appearances like Juhi Chawla and Mandira Bedi.