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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?
I 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.