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Shah Rukh is a gem of  a guy: R Madhavan




The R. Madhavan Interview

R Madhavan has done it! His  Nambi Naryanan bio-pic is  a work of beauty, and a joy forever. Without pulling  any punches,  Madhavan socks us in  our complacent faces, as  the horrific story of  a  dedicated  passionate scientist’s torture and  persecution comes to life. Then there  is of course Shah Rukh Khan .  Subhash K Jha probes Madhavan.

How  did  you get Shah Rukh Khan to do a film after three years?

And that  too  for a  guest appearance. It wasn’t  difficult at  all. Shah Rukh is a gem of  a guy. When he  heard about  who and what  the  film was about , he agreed to come on board immediately. Shah Rukh and I  go back a long way, We come  from  similar non-film backgrounds.  He  also started on  television like me.

Then you  both became  superstars?

don’t know  about me. But Shah  Rukh is definitely  a  superstar.He plays  a  very important  part in Rocketry: The  Nambi Effect.  He conducts   the  interview with Nambi Sir where all the truth  about his life is revealed. Suriya plays Shah Rukh’s role in  the  Tamil   version of  the film.

Did such an interview actually happen in Nambi Narayanan’s life?

Of course!  It  was conducted on  a  Kerala television channel by a local journalist. This  interview  was  a turning  point  in Nambi Sir’s  fight  for justice.  We’ve actually shown a very  small part of his torture  and interrogation. In reality this  exceptionally  brave  and honest  man struggled  for  eight years  to get  justice.  If we showed everything that he  went through the film would have become  too dark and morbid. We wanted to make  sure that Nambi Sir’s story reached  the  remotest corners  of the world. I was very apprehensive  about one thing.

What  is that?

That  people will see me , Madhavan on screen. I wanted  my presence  to be totally obliterated so that people see  only Nambi Sir on screen. This is  isn’t a  film about me , Madhavan. It is  about this hero of the nation who faced  humiliation and damnation.Gaddar, desh drohi(traitor)  ….all these  things  are so  easy to label someone with.  When you  make irresponsible  accusations you destroy the entire family. This  is  what  we wanted to show.

And  you have shown it with absolute conviction and sensitivity?

I had to!  I  had no choice. When I took  on  the responsibility  of  bringing  Nambi Sir’s  story to the screen I wasn’t sure what  I was getting into. All I knew was  ,it is a  responsibility I had  taken on and I had to make sure that full justice  was done to the story of a  man who struggled for eight  years   to get justice.

Which is  the  best  compliment you have received  so  far  for  Rocketry?

My  son Vedaant is  not  very demonstrative  about his feelings. When he  saw the  film he  said, ‘Dad, can I  get my friends to  see it?’  He  wants kids  of  his generation to know  about Nambi Sir. To me  that is the film’s  biggest achievement.

How close has  this film brought  you to Nambi Narayanan?

Very close. He  gets along well with my parents. We are family friends. But it’s not as if we are in each other’s  homes  all the time  or constantly  speaking to one another on the phone. He  knows  I am there  for him any time he  needs me. That won’t change  even after the  film has come and gone.

 What  do you feel  about the  massive  flow of bio-pics in  the  movie theatres?

We should celebrate  lives that are worth celebrating. There  are  so many real heroes in  our country, men and women who have given their lives to  the service  of the nation.I chose to tell Nambi Nambiar’s story because it  seemed  the right thing to do.There are so  many other heroes  in our country  whose  stories are waiting to be  told.

Is  it true that  you have decided to not direct any more  films after Rocketry?

I had  to direct this project . I  had  no other option. It was  a job, a  responsibility thrust on me by destiny. To my relief  I  was able to  put  on screen what I wanted to. However  my job profile  would describe  me as an actor, not a director.

What is  your greatest takeaway from the experience  of  directing Rocketry?

That I was able to  spend  time  with Nambi Narayanan  Sir. If  he had not agreed to support this  project, I don’t think I’d have made  the film.I have learnt so much from him about rocket science and about life. I can very confidently tell you that  life is  more complicated  than rocket science.

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