Bollywood Baatein: How Maddy is different from others

The worst thing a star does to himself is insulate himself from the outside world. The first thing Maddy does on entering a room is open all the windows

Bollywood Baatein: How Maddy is different from others

Subhash K Jha

I can’t believe Maddy has turned 52 on June 1. We’ve practically grown up together. He started his career some years after mine. But I’ve known him from the time he started on television. We are family friends in the truest sense.

Maddy has a special privilege given to none of my friends from the entertainment industry. He is the only one I call by his nickname. As a rule, I find nicknames obnoxious. I had one during my childhood. I threw it out the minute I could tell wrong from right. You won’t hear me Bebo-ing and Akki-ing anyone in the film industry.

With Maddy, it’s different. Maddy is…Maddy! He is one of the few actors who has been our house guest. It was when he was promoting his film Ramji Londonwale where he played a cook. Maddy arrived for a two-day visit laden with gifts for everyone including my mother. He stayed with us as a normal guest, no special demands, no withdrawing into his room for privacy. For two days he mingled with us, went out to have paani puris and to visit the Gurdwara, watched television with us, played games, bitched about everyone.

My mother, the least star-stuck person I’ve met, loved Madhavan. “He is so normal. Nothing zabardasti or kha-ma-kha about him.” She was always guarded about my Bollywood friends. She had every right to be. One star (who at 60-plus looks 45 and never stops reminding the world of his eternal youth) had called in the era of the landline and commanded my mother, “Saab ko bulao.”

He presumed my mother was the house help. And he did not have the grace to apologize when disabused. Then there was this ultra sophisticated actress turned chat show hostess who lectured my mother for half an hour after she was asked how she liked Karan Johar’s latest film. My mother made the mistake of replying that she liked the film.

“If I knew how she would harangue me I’d have lied and said I hated the film,” my mother grumbled.

But it was my wife who faced the worst. An internationally acclaimed actor came, chatted, ate and thanked my wife saying he thought she was my mother throughout the evening. To no one’s surprise my wife stopped seeing this actor’s films.

Maddy is a favourite of all at home. I’ve also been to his home in Chennai and later in Mumbai when he shifted base. His wife Sarita keep a very nonfilmy home. No frills, no trophies, not tell-tale signs of resident superstardom. I guess this attitude reflects in Madhavan’s down-to-earth countenance. He laughs at himself, jokes about his age and sex appeal and allows 15-year-old son Vedant to be a pal.

There are very few relationships that I share with people in the film industry that go beyond Fridays. Madhavan is one of them. We can talk about anything and anyone in the film industry without his warning, “Please don’t write this” or “This is off the record”.

We know where to draw the line, don’t we, Maddy? Stay the same. Don’t change. I am sure on your 60th birthday you will still be making films, and seeing the lighter side of stardom. The worst thing a star does to himself is insulate himself from the outside world. The first thing Maddy does on entering a room is open all the windows.

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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