Of the tiny trickle of search request terms that Google so generously dumps at my doorstep, the third most popular term of all time is “Madhu film“. I guess, that, though itsy-weeny-teeny miniscule in volume, is an indicator of the popularity and the affection that he enjoys as an actor, or shall we say, as one of the patriarchs of Malayalam cinema.
The once ‘Hindi Lecturer’ was a unique personality who never ever upset the ‘business equations’ of the existing power centers of the Malayalam cinema industry which he stepped into, with Ninamaninja Kaalpaadukal (1963), but ensured that he was adept to mold himself into any role, without any inhibitions, that resulted in some of the memorable movies and characters that have become a part of our legacy. Then again, hey, this is my personal opinion.
How difficult is it to map the ‘evolution’ of an actor whose career across three main domains of films stretch over 5 decades?
Very difficult, I would say.
On second thoughts, extremely difficult. Yes. Extremely. Here was an actor who was nothing of the likes that was ever present in Malayalam cinema in the times that he stepped in to the industry. One of the top three rank holders from the National School of Drama, here was someone who was hungry for roles that challenged his inner discipline as an actor. Here was someone who chose to hang around with the doyens of the neo-cultural wave of Malayalam cinema of the 60’s, exploring the possibilities of making good every creative one from their wordsmithys that came his way and was no stranger to being on both sides of the camera.
Madhu puts forward a very interesting and thought-provoking perspective on the whole ‘business of production and direction’ in a recent interview which I was glued to, where he talks about the craft of direction and production being a part of the multiple domains that one needs to have a grasp on, when you create your story for the screen. He says the most optimal state is when one is a Director yet have a deep understanding of the way every domain work together to bring the result that you have in your head. I think, in direct inference, it also gives one a healthy dollop of confidence to try and dare traverse unknown terrains, willingly take risks, because you have knowledge and experience on your side to reasonably guide you.