His debut in Mani Ratnam's special romance, Alaipayuthey (2000), made him an instant star in Tamil cinema, but the Hindi film industry took some more coaxing. With films like Guru, 3 Idiots and Tanu Weds Manu, Madhavan has now become the trusted 'nice guy' for Hindi cinema. On his 47th birthday (1 June), we look at 10 roles that capture his versatility.
10 R Madhavan films that are worth revisiting — birthday special
Mumbai - 01 Jun 2017 8:54 IST
It is easy to forget that R Madhavan was more familiar with Hindi than Tamil. Having grown up in Indore, the actor broke through on Indian television with serials like Banegi Apni Baat, Ghar Jamai and SeaHawks. However, Hindi cinema did not accept him until his breakthrough in the phenomenal Alaipayuthey (2000).
However, in the past decade, the actor has established himself as one of the more respected and loved names in Hindi cinema with roles in some iconic films like Rang De Basanti (2006), Guru (2007), 3 Idiots (2009) and Tanu Weds Manu (2011).
Here are 10 brilliant films that capture his versatility and likeableness.
1. Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein (2001)
A remake of the Tamil hit Minnale (2000), the film launched Madhavan in Hindi cinema as the romantic hero. The film did not match the success of its original down South, but continues to enjoy a huge cult following among youngsters till date.
2. Dil Vil Pyar Vyar (2002)
It might not be among the montages, but this lovable romantic comedy was an example of why the actor is so loved. Playing a singer jealous of his own wife, Madhavan brought some adorable wit to a film that was less a film and more a pop album.
3. Ramji Londonwaley (2005)
Not one of his best works, critics may say, but it was a sign of the actor's willingness to experiment. A remake of the Tamil comedy Nala Damayanthi (2003), the film saw the actor playing a Bihari cook who struggles to get a residency permit in London.
4. Rang De Basanti (2006)
This was the film that truly established him as a bona fide star. Playing the conscience of a rebellious group of youngsters, the actor displayed the poise, warmth and likeableness that left an impact. The fact that youngsters continue to remember the lines is evidence of the sincerity he evoked with the role.
5. Guru (2007)
Another conscientious role was his performance in Mani Ratnam's Guru. In the biopic believed to have been based loosely on the life of the late industrialist Dhirubhai Ambani, Madhavan played the relentless journalist who reveals the dark secrets behind the polished businessman. Even in a small role, the actor carved a niche for himself. He did get to romance Vidya Balan, however.
6. Mumbai Meri Jaan (2008)
A forgotten but sensitive film, Mumbai Meri Jaan is known for its many little characters that resonate with urban citizens living in dread of modern terrorism. As the daily local train traveller struggling with his stress disorder after a terror attack, the actor delivered a short but memorable performance that added value to the film.
7. 3 Idiots (2009)
The actor was reunited with his Rang De Basanti cast members Aamir Khan and Sharman Joshi in this blockbuster Rajkumar Hirani film. As the passionate photographer who is forced to study engineering, he managed to touch a chord with everyone who has had to sacrifice a passion to fulfil an obligation. The film went on to become one of India's biggest blockbusters, and made him a household name.
8. Tanu Weds Manu (2011)
While Aanand L Rai's film was completely Kangana Ranaut's show, R Madhavan was the perfect foil to her. As the bullied but refreshingly ordinary romantic, the actor was a scene stealer. No wonder rival-in-love Jimmy Shergill did not stand a chance.
9. Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015)
If ever there was as sequel that matched up to its original, it was Tanu Weds Manu Returns. Again, Madhavan did a fantastic job as the repressed husband who tries escaping from his wife, only to discover that he cannot. The deadpan humour and witticisms have now become a trademark of his roles.
10. Saala Khadoos (2016)
This is not to say he could not undergo transformations. To play the disgraced boxer in Sudha Kongara's Saala Khadoos, Madhavan underwent a training regime to look every bit the angry, mean muscleman. It showed too. Critics praised his role, and the actor had found a new look to steal the hearts of his large female fan following.