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'I'm The OG Pan India Superstar!'

May 08, 2024 16:25 IST

'I am always rocking.'
'I am a rockstar.'
'That's the way the world will always see me.'

Photograph: Kind courtesy Madhoo/Instagram

Madhoo was among the leading heroines of the 1990s, starring in her most memorable role in Mani Ratnam's Roja (1992).

After a mid-career hiatus in the early 2000s and most of the 2010s, Madhoo is now trying to re-establish herself.

Starring in last year's well-received Tamil series Sweet Kaaram Coffee, Madhoo's performance garnered her some positive attention.

Her next is Director Soham Shah's Kartam Bhugtam, which also stars Shreyas Talpade and Vijay Raaz.

"One day I was at a family lunch with Hemaji (Hema Malini, her paternal aunt) when she was planning her film Tell Me O Kkhuda, and she told me, 'Come for a family holiday and do this little role for me'. I said, okay. I wore the makeup and knew that I had to be back in the movies again," Madhoo tells Mayur Sanap/

Are you choosy with the kind of films and roles you do?

I follow the principle of not running or chasing.

I want to live a life of an artist and keep myself busy doing what I love.

I don't even have a PR agency to represent me.

People who come to me with good stories and who really want me, who like me, who have faith in my ability, that's what excites me.

I don't want to be busy 365 days.

When a good opportunity comes, I will accept it happily.

Since Kartam Bhugtam is about good and bad karma, do you believe in the saying what goes around comes around?

Yeah. But I don't believe that in a negative way because the theory of karma and destiny is not so simplistic.

I believe strongly in destiny and that is why I don't have any insecurity.

I put my best foot forward in any situation. I'm very calm and peaceful in my life.

What was the reason behind quitting movies? What kept you busy during that time?

I was doing a lot of good work in Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam. If you see my filmography, you will know.

Since I was born and brought up in Bombay, I wanted to do more Hindi films.

But at that time, I felt that somehow I was not getting the roles I wanted.

I felt it was the universe's way of telling me that I should do something different.

This was the time when I fell in love and got married.

I became a full-time mother and did what I needed to do.

Then I missed acting so I came back. Now, I'm busy again doing what I love.

IMAGE: Madhoo and Arvind Swamy in Roja.

How challenging was to re-enter the industry? Did you actively seek film-makers for roles?

You won't believe me, but I didn't get in touch with anybody.

One day, I was with Hemaji (Hema Malini, Madhoo's paternal aunt) for a family lunch when she was planning her film Tell Me O Kkhuda, and she told me, 'Come for a family holiday and do this little role for me.' I said, okay.

I wore the makeup and knew that I had to be back in the movies again.

Then one thing led to the other.

A lot of people said that the industry is not the same as before and I will have to make calls to people for work.

But till today whatever opportunities I am getting are all coming from people on their own.

When I was not in the industry, I felt I would always be as actor whether I act or not.

That is why when I'm back here, every role and every movie, however little or big, I do with so much joy.

You were one of those few actors who would balance Hindi and South films quite efficiently.

Yes, I'm the OG pan India superstar!

Do you think this sudden love for South films and actors was long overdue?

It is a reflection of integration of the world.

Whether it is Hollywood or Bollywood or South industries, everything has become one.

Today, we watch all kind of films: Turkish, Korean, Japanese. This was unheard of before.

A Hindi person is saying that they saw my Tamil show, and some Tamil person is saying they saw my Hindi show.

It is not only in the movie business, it is also in the world that separation is becoming less and less. The world is becoming one.

But there's also a downside to it.

IMAGE: Madhoo with daughter Ameya and aunt Hema Malini. Photograph: Kind courtesy Madhoo/Instagram

What is that?

Earlier, we used to have remakes of one big hit in five different languages. Nowadays, one film is made and it is being seen everywhere.

When Madhuri's (Dixit) Beta happened in Hindi, so many movies were made on that one big hit.

Beta (the Hindi remake of the Tamil film Enga Chinna Rasa) was amazing but I also got to do my version of Madhuri's role in Kannada (Annayya, 1993), and that was a super hit.

Today, you will never get a chance to do that because if a Pushpa is a hit, everybody has already seen it and you can't make another Pushpa with somebody else.

Did you recently watch anything in Hindi that you wish to do?

I want to do movies like Crew. I am very proud and happy to see that a female-oriented film was so successful. I want to be a part of something like that.

Now I am watching Sanjay Leela Bansaliji's Heeramandi and loving it.

There are women of all ages looking beautiful in that show and Manisha (Koirala) is fabulous!

I think I am ready for that.

Do you think the industry lacks imagination in writing characters for female actors of a certain age?

Basically, our industry is driven by numbers.

If the numbers are reflective of what the audience wants to see, then other people will venture into it.

Crew has become a hit so I am hoping more stories will get made.

In the end, the audience has to support it.

If a female-oriented film is successful, it is encouraging for other female actors to do something like that.

IMAGE: Madhoo with daughters Keia and Ameya. Photograph: Kind courtesy Madhoo/Instagram

After all these years of experience in this industry, what are the things that the actor in you is still struggling with?

I still don't understand the power of PR.

I know it, but I don't think I execute it or follow it.

I don't attend the right parties.

I don't meet the right people.

I still believe my talent will attract the work I deserve.

Although everybody is telling me that there is a whole power of PR today, I am still struggling with that idea.

Your Instagram holds these two lines, 'Fake it till you make it' and 'Hurt In Private, Heal In Silence, Glow In Public'. Can you explain their significance in your life?

I will never tell you that I am struggling, or I am in pain, or I am crying.

I am always rocking.

I am a rockstar.

That's the way the world will always see me.

No one can help me in my low period. It is only me, and my God is there with me.

I have a very good support system. I have a very good family who allow me to lean on them. And they love me.

Whatever negative or sad moments are there, I shall heal quietly in private and I will always glow in public. That's my promise to myself.

Retrospectively, are there any professional decisions that you will take differently today?

I wish I had attended more parties, where all the industry people came together.

I wish I had called up a few producers saying that 'Sir, I want to work with you.' Maybe these things would have gotten me one or two extra films.

I haven't changed too much in that aspect; I didn't do this then and I still cannot do it.

I will understand the value of maintaining a public image.

I will make one extra effort to stay connected with the industry people and my fans. I am not a very connected human being otherwise.

These would be one of the biggest changes if I were to bring in myself.