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    The actor who took a sabbatical  and shed the romantic tag holds forth on his latest, Tanu Weds Manu Returns

    laipayuthey released  14 years ago. But actor-writer-producer R Madhavan finds it funny that a 15-year-old still gets excited watching the film. “The daughter sees me and gushes; the mother looks at me and gushes. So who do I make a movie for: the daughter or mother? Not that I’m complaining—but it brings me to a situation where I don’t know what to do next. And I end up making a film like 13B,” smiles the actor. Madhavan is back in showbiz after taking a three-year sabbatical. “I wanted a break from acting; I was bored. I wanted to bring back that fire in my belly because I knew I was not giving my best, and at that time Jodi Breakers had also failed. I created a self-hurdle and lived with common people to know what exactly they expect from an actor. This period taught me who I can rely on,’’ he says. The 45-year-old is currently busy promoting his comeback film, Tanu Weds Manu Returns. A sequel to an earlier film  (of the same name) with Kangana Ranaut, it is directed by Anand L Rai.

    Double trouble
    Madhavan says returning to the set was exciting. “Shooting for this film was like a honeymoon. My character deals with two Kanganas and takes off from where it had ended in the previous movie. It is incredible how the audience catches up with the story four years after it was made. It shows how a new entrant in the couple’s life can change things. The other Kangana is a sports girl—Datto from Haryana. It is a love triangle,” he says. After four years, his character, Manu, is also trying hard to look and feel younger. “When a man turns 40, he matures and wants everything, especially life, to be under control. He becomes a rebel or tries to retain his youthfulness. He tries to look younger or starts biking. That’s how my character is,” says the actor.

    No to romance
    After 20 years in the industry, Madhavan is still perceived as the perfect ladies’ man. However, the actor is trying to shed that image. “I’m baffled that the audience still wants me to be a hopeless romantic. I’m 45-years-old. I’m grumpy and moody, and I have grey hair, but somehow nobody wants to let me grow old. Even in Tanu Weds Manu Returns, I invariable end up playing the quintessential lover boy. Given a choice, I would love to be a Superman or do a commercial film with Sunny Leone just to see how it goes,” he says candidly. After watching director Mani Ratnam’s latest, O Kadhal Kanmani, Madhavan is heaving a sigh of relief. “People say it is the new man’s Alaipayuthey. I am so happy somebody has replaced the chocolate boy. Dulquer Salmaan can now deal with it. (laughs).” What kept him busy these three years when he was on a sabbatical? “I have also been gardening, riding my bikes and playing golf. I travelled across the US and the UK. My garden now has several vegetables and fruit plants and I use hydroponics technology—growing them in mineral nutrient solutions, without soil,” he smiles.
    Tanu Weds Manu Returns is scheduled to release on May 22.

    Ready to experiment
    “I do have problems working with a new director. It is not the number of films that he has behind him, because even a single film can prove to be a testimony. It is the life experiences a person has had that matters. Many of my blockbusters have been with first-time directors or people who have made just one film—like Lingusamy,” he says. Having said that, Madhavan is a fan of director Karthik Subbaraj. “I know that new directors have to work within a budget, but I want to make a film with him that will take the industry by storm. I also want to work with Shankar. Only he can make an edgy film like Mudhalvan,” he says.

    — Mrinalini Sundar

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