Madhavan had been acting in Hindi TV serials since the late ’90s before bursting on to the big screen with the Tamil film Alaipayuthey (2000) directed by Mani Ratnam. He made his Hindi screen debut with Rehnaa Hai Tere Dil Mein (2001), which was a remake of his own Tamil hit Minnale, released the same year. He has successfully carved a career in both the South as well as the Hindi industries over the years and has come to be known as an actor who can be trusted to deliver his best to every role. On his birthday today, we have made a list of films containing some of his best performances down the years.
Director: Mani Ratnam
Cast: Madhavan, Shalini
The film marked Madhavan’s debut down South. He won the Filmfare Award for the Best Debut – South for the same. Karthik Varadarajan (Madhavan) is a software engineer who is in the process of setting up a startup with friends. He meets medical student Shakti Selvaraj (Shalini) at a friend’s wedding and sparks fly. The duo continues to meet and over a course of time fall in love. The meeting of their parents doesn’t go as planned, however, and Shakthi decides to call off the relationship. She goes to a medical camp in Kerala and Karthik misses her very much, as does she. The duo marries in secret but don’t inform their respective parents. When they are found out, they are both thrown out of their respective homes. They start living together but it doesn’t turn out to be easy. Circumstances force them apart and they are on the verge of divorce. However, Shakti meets with a serious accident and that’s when Karthik realises how much he really loves his wife. The film was remade as Saathiya (2002) by Ratnam’s assistant Shaad Ali and starred Rani Mukerji and Vivek Oberoi.
Director: Gautham Menon
Cast: Madhavan, Abbas, Reema Sen, Vivek and Nagesh
Samuel (Abbas) and Rajesh (Madhavan) are two students studying at an engineering college in Ooty. While Samuel is a brilliant student, Rajesh is a slacker and the college rowdy. They both keep fighting each other throughout the college life and during the last year, just before the results, have a serious face-off where they part as enemies. Samuel goes to the US for further studies while Rajesh starts living in Chennai with his grandfather and works in a tech firm. He sees a girl Reena (Reema Sen) dancing in the rain while going to a wedding in Bangalore and falls in love with her. He meets her at the same wedding and later finds out that she has shifted to Chennai. He learns that she’s been engaged to a guy she hasn’t seen before and pretends to be him. She too later falls in love with him but when she finds out about his duplicity, she dumps him. Worse, her fiance turns out to be Samuel. She and Samuel are all set to marry when the latter senses she still loves Rajesh, he unites the lovers. The film proved to be a big commercial hit and was remade in Hindi as Rehnaa Hai Tere Dil Mein and released the same year. It was a modest earner in Hindi but later developed a cult status.
Kannathil Muthamittal (2002)
Director: Mani Ratnam
Cast: Madhavan, Simran, Baby Keerthana, Nandita Das, Prakash Raj, J. D. Chakravarthy, Pasupathy, Sashikumar, Easwari Rao
Thiruchelvan (R. Madhavan), a progressive writer, and his wife Indira (Simran), adopt a baby girl Amudha (Baby Keerthana), whose parents were Tamils belonging to the LTTE faction. Her mother Shyama (Nandita Das) went back to Sri Lanka after giving birth to her in search of her wounded husband. They tell her of her past on her 9th birthday. Hearing this, she insists on meeting her biological parents. She starts behaving rudely with her adoptive parents, especially with her mother. Her parents finally consent and take her to Sri Lanka, where they finally meet a contact who can take them to Shyama. However, they get ambushed at the meeting point and Indira gets hit by a bullet. Seeing this, Ambudha wants to go back. However, she insists on driving through the meeting point once more the next day and to their surprise, Shyama does turn up. They all have a tearful reunion, before Ambudha goes back to India with her parents. He won the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor for the film.
Anbe Sivam (2003)
Director: Sundar C
Cast: Kamal Haasan, Madhavan, Kiran Rathod, Nassar, Santhana Bharathi, Seema and Uma Riyaz Khan
Anbe Sivam follows the journey from Bhubaneswar to Chennai undertaken by two men of contrasting personalities, Nallasivam (Kamal Haasan), a physically scarred person who has a socialist stance towards life whose mission in life is to help others and Anbarasu (Madhavan), a commercial director who supports capitalism and globalisation. Aras has to be present at his wedding, and Nalla has to deliver a cheque recently awarded to him after he won a court case, to a group of union workers. The character of Nallasivam was said to be inspired by the life of Communist playwright, actor, director and lyricist Safdar Hashmi. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the two are forced to undertake the journey together after their flight gets cancelled. They both tell each other their life stories while waiting for the journey to unfold and unwittingly have a set of misadventures together. The journey makes them friends in the end and turns them into better people.
Aaytha Ezhuthu (2004)
Director: Mani Ratnam
Cast: Suriya, Madhavan, Siddharth, Trisha, Meera Jasmine, and Esha Deol
The film revolves around the issue of student politics and gives the message that the youth have the power to bring about a real change if they are serious about entering politics. Inba Sekar (Madhavan) is a goon in the employ of Selvanayagam (Bharathiraja). Michael Vasanth (Suriya) is an influential student leader opposed to Selvanayagam. Inba is ordered to eliminate Michael, who is saved by Arjun Balakrishnan (Siddharth), who was riding pillion on his bike. After interacting with Michael, Arjun gives up his plans to go to the US and joins Michael’s cause. Michael decides to run for the elections and Selvanayagam again instructs Inba to break up their union. Inba kidnaps Arjun, who is rescued by Michael. He’s beaten up and sent to jail. Later, Michael and his fellow candidates win four seats at the elections, emerging as a strong force to reckon with in the future. Madhavan was praised for his performance and won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film.
Rang De Basanti (2006)
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Cast: Aamir Khan, Siddharth Narayan, Atul Kulkarni, Kunal Kapoor, Sharman Joshi, Alice Patten, Soha Ali Khan, Madhavan, Waheeda Rehman
Madhavan plays a small but significant role in the film. Ajay Singh Rathod (Madhavan), a flight lieutenant in the Indian Air Force who is Sonia’s (Soha Ali Khan) fiancé, is killed when his jet, a MiG-21, crashes. The government puts the blame on pilot error and closes the case. His friends Daljit Singh (Aamir Khan), Karan Singhania (Siddharth Narayan), Aslam Khan (Kunal Kapoor) and Sukhi Ram (Sharman Joshi) start their own investigation and learn that the plane crashed because cheap spare parts were bought by the corrupt defence minister Shastri (Mohan Agashe), with the help of Karan’s father, Rajnath Singhania (Anupam Kher). They, along with another friend Laxman Pandey (Atul Kulkarni), decide to avenge the death by turning vigilantes. They were earlier rehearsing for a play based on the lives of freedom fighters and their efforts are juxtaposed with the lives of freedom-fighters Chandrasekhar Azad (Aamir Khan), Bhagat Singh (Siddharth Narayan), Shivaram Rajguru (Sharman Joshi), Ashfaqulla Khan (Kunal Kapoor), and Ram Prasad Bismil (Atul Kulkarni).
3 Idiots (2009)
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Cast: Aamir Khan, Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Kareena Kapoor, Boman Irani, Omi Vaidya
The film, a critique of our higher education system touched a chord with the masses and remains one of those evergreen films you love to watch at every rerun. Farhan Qureshi (Madhavan), Raju Rastogi (Sharman Joshi) and Rancho (Aamir Khan) are three friends studying together at a prestigious engineering college in Delhi. While Farhan’s interest lies in wildlife photography, Raju considers himself a weak student and believes that going to temples and praying regularly might help him get better marks. Rancho believes one should take an interest in the subject and that’ll surely help them get good marks. Another batchmate Chatur Ramalingam (Omi Vaidya) believes in learning by rote. The three have a set of misadventures while in college. Inspired by Rancho, both Farhan and Raju seek out new ways to live their lives. They begin a journey, along with Chatur, to seek out what happened to Rancho, who seemingly disappeared from their lives. What they learn leaves them shocked.
Tanu Weds Manu (2011)
Director: Aanand L. Rai
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Madhavan, Jimmy Sheirgill
Madhavan played Manu, an NRI doctor, who falls in love with Tanu (Kangana Ranaut), a strong-headed, strong-willed woman who at first rejects arranged marriage with Manu because she already has a boyfriend, Raja (JimmyShergill). Circumstances bring them together at a friend’s wedding and the duo gets attracted to each other. She finds herself falling in love with the gentle NRI doctor. Convinced of his love, she asks her parents to fix the wedding and get them hitched as soon as possible. The only glitch in the plan is Raja, who warns of dire consequences if Tanu is married off to someone other than him. Manu doesn’t care about the consequences and goes ahead. He stands up to Raja when the latter too comes with a baraat. This act of courage further endears him to Tanu, who tells Raja to shoot her first before harming Manu.
Director: N. Linguswamy
Cast: Madhavan, Arya, Sameera Reddy, Amala Paul
The film revolves around two brothers, the elder being sensitive to violence and the younger being a jobless slacker. After the death of their policeman father, Thirumurthy (Madhavan), too enters the police force upon the insistence of his younger brother, Gurumurthy (Arya). The problem is that Thirumurthy is totally averse to violence. It’s solved by Gurumurhty, who beats up the bad elements as a vigilante and lets his elder brother take the credit. Thirumurthy falls in love with Vasanthi (Sameera Reddy) and Gurumurthy falls for her younger sister Jayanthi (Amala Paul). The duo marries the sisters and the four start leading a happy life. A local mafia don, Annachi (Ashutosh Rana), learns the truth about them and gets Thirumurthy beaten up severely. Fed up of hiding behind his brother, he too starts training to be a fighter. The brothers team up and finish Annachi and his gang and later Gurumurthy too joins the police force.
Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015)
Director: Aanand L Rai
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Madhavan, Jimmy Shergill, Deepak Dobriyal, Rajesh Sharma
The film was a direct sequel to the 2011 hit Tanu Weds Manu. Four years into their marriage, Tanu (Kangana Ranaut) and Manu (Madhavan) are facing a rough patch in their relationship. They are constantly bickering and even couple counselling doesn’t seem to work. It seems that divorce is the only solution. Manu meets Datto (Kangana again) a Haryanvi athlete at this juncture and falls for her at first sight. She too gets smitten by him and is willing to get married to him despite knowing he’s already married. Tanu lands in between them at this juncture to save her marriage and what follows is an emotional roller coaster ride filled with laughter. Madhavan’s portrayal of a much-married doctor who feels he’s got a second lease on romance was much admired.
Irudhi Suttru (2016)
Director: Sudha Kongara
Cast: Madhavan, Ritika Singh
The film was made simultaneously in Hindi as Saala Khadoos. The film features Madhavan as a boxing coach who mentors a young girl to international success. Prabhu Selvaraj (Adi Tomar in Hindi version) (Madhavan) is a talented yet failed boxer who, despite being very gifted in boxing, falls victim to the dirty politics in the boxing association, and loses his chance to go to the ’96 Olympics. 15 years later, he is a government coach for the national women’s boxing training academy. He meets roadside fish seller Ezhil Madhi (Ritika Singh) and, recognising her fiery spirit, offers to teach her boxing. Her elder sister Lakshmi (Mumtaz Sorcar), who is already a boxer, trains with him. At first, Ezhil doesn’t get along with him because of his strict methods but later develops feelings for him. Like her mentor, she too becomes a victim of the politics of the sports federation. However, along with his help, she overcomes the odds and wins a prestigious tournament, redeeming both herself and him in the process.
Vikram Vedha (2017)
Cast: Madhavan, Vijay Sethupathi, Shraddha Srinath, Kathir, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar
The film is inspired by Baital Pachisi. The ghost-like being Baital posed morally ambiguous questions to King Vikramaditya, each of which could result in more than one answer. In the film, gangster Vedha (Vijay Sethupathi) tells a story to the honest inspector Vikram (Madhavan) each time they meet. The stories offer clues as to why Vedha was forced to do certain things and makes Vikram understand that there is more to the underworld than meets the eyes. He begins to understand that most of his colleagues are corrupt and are under the payroll of the mafia. And that while Vedha might be a gangster, he is also a man of his word, unlike his colleagues, who don’t seem to have a moral compass. Both Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi were praised for their bravura performances. Madhavan won the Filmfare Best Actor Critics’ Award for his performance.