'There was an inherent goodness in our parents' generation. That's lost.'
R Madhavan is quite happy with the way his latest Tamil film Maara -- a remake of Dulquer Salman's Malayalam hit Charlie -- has turned out.
But he admits making it was not a bed of roses.
"I never felt as nervous doing Alaipayuthe or Rang De Basanti as I did during Maara," Madhavan tells Subhash K Jha.
Maara does exactly what its heroine's character does. It restores our faith in love.
This is exactly what we set out do.
When we set out to do a remake of the Malayalam hit Charlie, we were very sure that we wanted to do full justice to it.
I have the highest respect for Dulquer Salman, who stars in the original.
I hope he's as happy with what we've done with Charlie.
A remake only makes sense if it takes the original ahead. That's what Maara does.
Exactly. A remake can be done in a hurry just to cash in on the popularity of the original.
We didn't want to do that.
I only do a remake if I can pay some kind of 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 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 in 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 fit the bill. Dhilip is just the guy.
We re-structured the original to suit my age. Dulquer is at least 15 years my junior.
Yes, there is a dialogue at the end of Maara about your age.
Exactly. Normally, heroes in Tamil cinema 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 closure.
Your character Maara is a fairy-tale 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 be an 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. At the same time, I could do much better.
I always have problems with my work.
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!