Madhavan’s meditation on the making  of Maara

It was the toughest film in my career. We shot in Ooty’s winter with elderly actors. Luckily the shooting was completed before the lockdown, says R Madhavan

Bollywood actor R Madhavan (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
Bollywood actor R Madhavan (Photo Courtesy: IANS)

Subhash K Jha

Maddy, Maara does exactly what its heroine’s character does. Restoration. It restores our faith in love.

This is exactly what we set out do. Thank God you got  the point. When we set out to  do a remake  of  the Malayalam hit Charlie we were very sure we wanted  to do  full justice to it. I’ve the highest respect for Dulquer Salman who stars in  the original and I hope he’s as happy with what we’ve done with Charlie as we are.

I am sure he is. A remake only makes sense if it takes the original ahead. That’s what Maara does

Exactly. Are make  can be done in a hurry just to cash in on the popularity  of  the original. We certainly didn’t want to  do that. I only do a remake if  I can pay some kind of a homage to the original even  as I  give myself the creative liberty to take the story further. In Maara I’ve added a character and a track featuring the great Mouli Sir which was not there in the original. I am so glad  people have liked it. Four years ago when  we started this project’s journey we were not sure where we would go . We started Maara with the original team from Charlie.

Why did they back out?

See, Dulquer Salman and the team that  did Charlie shared an amazing camaraderie. I just couldn’t get  the same vibes with them. They were a family. They loved each other. I remained an outsider. For me to try and force myself into that set-up meant I’d be on trial in every shot. Also, Maara didn’t work out with the original  producers. We decided  to go with an entirely new team. We looked at several directors, even paid them an advance fee, before zeroing in on Dhilip Kumar to direct.

I hope they returned your money?

No. It is enough for me that they are happy with the film now that it’s released and they admit that they couldn’t have done better. I knew it didn’t matter who the director was. I had a vision of the way I wanted to remake Charlie. I wanted a director who fitted the bill. Dhilip is just the guy. We re-structured the original to suit my age. Dulquer is at least 15 years my junior.

I know, There is even a dialogue at the end of Maara about your age?

Exactly. Normally heroes in Tamil cinema leading men don’t joke about their age. Maara is not Charlie. He is very confident of his age. In today’s day and age love is fine at any age. As  you correctly said Maara is about the restoration of faith in love and humanism. Dhilip and I did a lot of brainstorming over the story until we came up with a script we both liked. For me it was a very exciting process. The original was a cult hit. They left the end abstract. I am an actor who wants a closure.

Your character Maara is a fairytale hero  ?

Charlie was a spirit. Maara is a human being,  a kind giving person. We are exceedingly into a shit era, redeemed only by good souls like Maara. There was an inherent goodness in our parents’ generation. That’s lost. Our mothers loved to cook and feed  people. That’s gone.

Is Maara your best in years?

It was the toughest film in my career. We shot in Ooty’s winter with elderly actors. Luckily the shooting was completed before the lockdown. I didn’t want it to be an unworthy project. I wanted it to bean honourable precursor to my next film Rocketry. To get the best out of my team I was sometimes  quite mean to them. In fact I cancelled a whole schedule when I felt we were not prepared enough. We lost  time and  money. We also had to replace our original cameraman as he was  committed  to another project.

So much stress behind the scenes?

Audiences wouldn’t forgive us for a mediocre project just because the director was new. If my director Dhilip had slipped up his career  would have been over even before  it started. Now his career is  off with a bang.

Are you satisfied with Maara?

Yes, I am. But at the same time I could do much better. I always have problems with my work. Even now when I got to the sets I am shitting bricks. I never felt as nervous doing Alaipayuthe or Rang De Basanti as I did during Maara. It’s been a charming 20 years’ career so far. And that’s 20 years of our friendship also. You are a part of my journey. For me forming long lasting relationships are important. I find that missing in today’s generation.

A fulfilling journey so far?

I remember reading an interview with Rishi Kapoor Sir where he said he had completed 20 years as a leading man and he was working with heroines 10-15 years his junior. I remember my awe on reading this. Today I’m exactly there where Rishi sir was.

So are you awed by your career?

Are you mad? My wife will throw me out of the house if I become my fan.

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