Madhu was in his thirties when he first met Raj Kapoor at a party. Years later, when Madhu was at the RK Studio in Goa shooting for ‘Saath Hindustani’, Raj Kapoor, who was then heading for another event, came back just to meet him. Celebrating his 50th year in the film field, when Madhu is asked to revisit the most touching memory of his career, he remembers Raj Kapoor.
“This happened in 1968 when I was a nobody,” he says.
Flaunting floral print shirts, a glass of whiskey in the vicinity and a youthful charm about him, Madhu’s role as Captain Nambiar in ‘Spirit’ was stark. He believes that these days his acting graph has nothing commendable.
“At my age I can only do good father roles but in this era the hero looks as if he has sprung from the sky. His father or mother are just a prop in the scene.”
The room we sit in, has an austere air, with Aranmula mirrors, lamps and countless idols of Krishna adorning it. He chuckles when asked whether he is a Krishna devotee, “These are all mementos and gifts that people give me. I have almost three sacs of such idols!”
Madhu is best remembered by Malayalees for his role as Pareekutty in ‘Chemeen’. With oiled hair, a lonely curl on his forehead and a scarf around his neck, the actor has immortalised the lovelorn hero. Be it ‘Chemeen’, ‘Ummachu’ or ‘Ramanan’, most of his memorable performances were in movies adapted from novels.
“Though you can criticize that in the 60s n 70s, there was a lot of ‘maramchutti premam’, you can’t ignore how closely knit literature and cinema were back then. Now the gap is so vast. These days novels rarely tell a story, they are all centered around opinions,” Madhu says.
On the table, a copy of Arthur Miller’s play lay split at the spine.
For Madhu, watching one movie every night before switching off the lights, is a ritual. A routine he has been following for years. Zipped CD folders are piled up on the shelf of his side room at Kannamoola. “I don’t frequent theaters, it is noisy with all the hooting and applause. I like to watch movies in the comfort of my bed and blanket,” he says as he flips the CDs and pauses at ‘Rhapsody in August’ (Kurosowa), one of his all-time favourites.
The veteran actor wants to revive theatre. He points at the top floor of the building behind his house, “That is where I wish plays would be enacted.”
He has dreams to make a space for plays to be enacted on a daily basis. The actor, who has also tried his hands at direction, wants to make a few short telefilms. “Jaded men gathered under a peepal tree, youth discussing politics in tea stalls, vast front yards and mooing cows...
these are all scenes from the past and depicted so vividly in the plays of my generation. None of it remains and I can’t adapt old plays,” says Madhu who is looking for good scripts that will suit the tastes of younger audience.
"Everything changes with time. Its the same in the film field. The acting styles, technical equipment, and even faces change. And some of these new faces have real talent. Look at Fahad. Every time I watch him on screen, he captivates me,” says the actor who thinks that he would definitely make a good real estate agent if not an actor.
His mobile phone rings. The voice on the other end was inviting him to a inaugurate a function. “These are the most common kind of calls I get these days,” he says and smiles.