Two Tamil superstars ready to strike Bollywood
A section of Kamal Haasan's admirers feel Madhavan is the true inheritor of the senior southern star's luminous legacy.
Subhash K. Jha, IANS
As though to prove them right, "Madhavan is all set to return to Hindi films with a brand new comedy, "Ramji Londonwale", which is actually a remake of the Tamil hit "Nala Damyanthi", which Kamal Haasan wrote and produced.
Says Madhavan, "It was my sheer good fortune that I got to do both the Tamil and Hindi versions of 'Nala Damyanthi'. Earlier on I missed the opportunity to star in the Hindi versions of 'Alai Payuthe' ('Saathiya') and 'Run' ('Run').
"But now I finally get to do both the Tamil and Hindi versions of a film, and that too written by my idol Kamal Haasan. It's a dream come true."
Additionally, there's more reason for Madhavan to rejoice. "Ramji Londonwale", which is directed by Ashutosh Gowariker's assistant, Sanjay Daima, comes at a time when comedies have staged a grand comeback at the Bollywood box office.
Beams Madhavan: "I'm so happy that Priyadarshan's 'Hulchul' is doing well. He's a friend and I made a guest appearance in his last Tamil film. Earlier his 'Hera Pheri' and 'Hungama' were hits. So I guess Priyan has opened up the comic market in Hindi. Great! Now I guess my comedy will be better accepted."
"Ramji Londonwale" is Madhavan's third attempt to crack the Hindi belt. His earlier Hindi films "Rehna Hai Terre Dil Mein" and "Dil Vil Pyar Vyar" didn't really help his career, though the former was a hit.
"Ramji Londonwale" is the story of a Bihari stowaway cook who whips up spice in London.
Says Madhavan, "We changed the original Tamil setting to Bihar and took it up from there. Since I'm originally from Bihar, 'Ramji Londonwale' is my tribute to my roots. Will it do well? Why not? It's a well made comedy."
Adds Kamal Haasan: "I'm so glad Maddy is doing a remake of a film written by me. Earlier Anil Kapoor has benefited from my Tamil successes. Two of his biggest hits, 'Viraasat' and 'Biwi No 1' were remakes of my Tamil hits."
Kamal Haasan who's currently shooting his new Hindi film "Mumbai Express" in Mumbai is also looking at a renewed career in Hindi cinema-"If they'll have me," he jokes.
Again like Madhavan's "Ramji Londonwale", "Mumbai Express" is a unique comedy of a kind seldom attempted in Hindi cinema. Many years ago Kamal Haasan had got together with director Singeetham Srinivasa Rao to do India's first "silent" comedy "Pushpak".
Today he's back on the comic turf with Rao hoping that the new comic climate in Bollywood would help him to create a niche in Hindi cinema, 26 years after he first came into Hindi cinema with the hit "Ek Duuje Ke Liye".
Will "Ramji Londonwale", expected in January 2005, and "Mumbai Express", expected in mid-2005, bring laughter to the faces of not just the audience but also the two actors from Tamil cinema who star in them?
"Why not?" reasons Kamal Haasan. "Everyone wants to laugh. And my film will provide ample opportunities to do so."