The many faces of Rajesh Madhavan: Humour, acting, and direction

Rajesh Madhavan
Rajesh is all set to add another feather to his cap by making his directorial debut with the upcoming movie, Pennum Porattum. Photo: Manorama

Rajesh Madhavan has emerged as a well-known face in Malayalam cinema today, owing to his impressive performances in movies such as 'Kanakam Kamini Kalaham,' 'Nna Thaan Case Kodu,' 'Android Kunjappan,' and 'Thinkalazhcha Nalla Divasam.' One of his most memorable scenes, alongside Jayaprakash in 'Maheshinte Prathikaaram,' has become a popular meme. Rajesh has a unique talent for conveying humour through his eyes, which was evident in his recent portrayal of a quotation Gunda in 'Madanolsavam.' Excitingly, this talented actor is all set to add another feather to his cap by making his directorial debut with the upcoming movie, 'Pennum Porattum.' Rajesh opens up about his roles and future plans to Manorama online.

Sankaran Namboothiri, a quotation gunda
In 'Madanolsavam', Ranji Kankol and I run a quotation team called Namboothiris Quotation. Many people have told us that we look alike, to the extent that some tag Ranji while posting my picture. They ask me if my house is in Kankol. Sudheeshettan had already made this observation and told us that he will cast us in a film together. This is my fourth film with Ratheesh Poduval. They tend to cast me in roles that are not usually offered to me. My role in 'Madanolsavam' is something I have never done before. No one is expecting me to play a quotation Gunda, especially given my figure. That might be the reason for the laughs.

To make each character distinct, I like to play different characters in every film. Because of my figure, I can get typecast when I do a character. So I am always thinking of doing something new to make my character look distinct. Sankaran Namboothiri is a poor Brahmin, but he is also a quotation Gunda. The mere fact that I am playing a quotation Gunda, given my appearance, adds humour to the film's proceedings as it is hard to believe for anyone. We play brothers, and Ranji knows some shlokas which he has chanted in the film. We didn't need to prepare much for the character. Since I have known the director Sudheesh for a long time, we had the freedom to improvise on the sets. Besides, Suraj Venjaramoodu is also a natural actor, and he is very good with on-the-spot improvisations. When we act with him, we are also able to improvise like that.

Suraj Venjaramoodu is so versatile
Suraj is such a versatile performer. I do miss watching his old comedies. I was there during the pre-production of the film when it was already decided that Suraj's character should have comic elements. He was living as Madanan. It wasn't comedy for the sake of it. Watching his performance and great comic timing is an experience in itself. It's so much fun to share screen space with him.

Acting with my eyes
I feel very happy when someone tells me that I have very expressive eyes. However, I'm not really doing anything deliberately to draw attention to my eyes. Maybe people first notice my eyes. Eyes are essential for an actor. Perhaps it has something to do with my training as a theatre actor. I think my peculiar jawline and face tend to bring more attention to my eyes. Somehow, it just happens, and it's not something I am trying hard to do.

Never dreamt of cinema
I hail from a village in Kasaragod called Kolathur. It is unthinkable for someone from there to try their luck in films. The circumstances weren’t favourable for someone to be in films. I love the kick of watching a film. Since I was part of the theatre I always wanted to be part of art. Maybe that’s how I ended up in films.

Entering films
After finishing my post-graduation in Visual Media I used to work on TV channels. Since cinema was also part of my course, I acted in a short film directed by my friend Ravi Sankar. Syam Pushkaran’s wife Unnimaya had worked as an associate in that film. Syam Pushkaran came to watch our short film. Ravi later became 'Rani Padmini’s co-writer. I was there with him during the making of the film. They asked me if I was interested in acting. Finally, Dileesh Pothan and Syam Pushkaran decided to try me and that’s how I acted in 'Rani Padmini'. Later I did many films like 'Maheshinte Prathikaram', 'Android Kunjappan', 'Kanakam Kamini', 'Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam', 'Minnal Murali' and 'Nna Thaan Case Kodu.'

Not overly bothered about my body
I wasn’t someone who wanted to be a film actor. It was all very unexpected. So I haven’t really heard derogatory remarks about my body and how it is unsuitable for a film actor. I am really not conscious about my lean body. I take after my parents, so I think I will always be this way. But it is also true that I am able to do whatever I wanted with this figure. In 'Madanolsavam,' I am a "quotation Gunda" who fights and dances. I have never found my lean body a limitation. I do eat properly but never felt the need to gain more weight.

Pennum Porattum
'Pennum Porattum' is my directorial debut and is currently in the pre-production stage. We have just started the casting process. It will be a very local film set in Kollengodu in Palakkad. We will be casting only new actors. Though I have cast many actors in other films, in my film, that job is done by someone else. The work has only started.

Good reviews for Madanolsavam
We are getting good reviews for 'Madanolsavam'. Looks like people are enjoying the film. Hope they celebrate it as a festive film.

Upcoming Films
I have done a small role in Aashiq Abu’s 'Neelavelicham'. More than the length of the role, I am excited about being part of a film based on Basheer’s story directed by Aashiq Abu. I am getting ready to be a part of Ratheesh Poduval’s next film. 'Pennum Porattum' will begin after that.

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