'There are so many actors and films that have influenced the lives of millions.'
Kindly note: It is Dr Madhavan from now on.
R Madhavan has received a Doctor of Letters for his outstanding contribution to arts and cinema by the D Y Patil Education Society, Kolhapur, at their ninth convocation ceremony.
Madhavan, who received the honour on February 17, says the experience was beyond anything he has experienced in life.
"It was surreal," he tells Subhash K Jha.
"My only regret was that my wife Sarita and son Vedant could not accompany me to the event. I missed them in my golden moment. As I sat there hearing them say such wonderful things about me and my career, I was transported to my student days in Kolhapur."
"In hostel, I had to do everything myself, even heat the water for a bath. This, for someone who lived life like a king in Canada, was unbearable," he recalls. "When I look back, I see that experience in self-actualisation as essential to my growth."
Madhavan graduated from Rajaram college n Kolhapur.
The actor was overwhelmed by the wonderful encomiums that were showered on him while receiving the doctorate.
"As they so lovingly spoke about my achievements, I could only see everything in my life as serendipitous. I never planned anything. Very often, I did things without any idea of the outcome," he says.
"Sometimes, no fear of the darkness is ignorance rather than bravery. I took the plunge into television, then Tamil cinema and then Hindi cinema, not knowing how it would pan out. Now, here I am holding a D Litt in my hands."
Only the most privileged showbiz personalities in India like Lata Mangeshkar and Kamal Haasan have been honoured with a doctorate.
"Even to be mentioned in the same breath as these two is a great honour for me," Madhavan says.
"When actors like us get honored with doctorates, I wish the image of showbiz personalities as intellectually-challenged, frivolous dimwits would end. To a large extent, we ourselves are responsible for not being taken seriously," Madhavan says.
"Some of us constantly project the glamorous side of our lives. As though being an actor is fun and games. In reality, there are so many actors and films that have influenced the lives of millions.
"Look at the work Sonu Sood is doing. It is awesome."
"Films like Rang De Basanti and 3 Idiots have changed the way we look at life. I am proud to say that I was a part of both."
What are his future plans?
"This year, you will see me as a director in Rocketry: The Nambi Effect where I also star in a bio-pic on space scientist Nambi Narayaran."
"Besides this, I will continue to explore the darkness. I am not afraid to stumble and fall."