Thiruvananthapuram, July 28 : He has featured in over 400 Malayalam films, as also in the Big B debut "Saat Hinudstani", and was the first actor to open his own production studio, turned down a film that has become the biggest grosser of 2019 and now leads a leisurely life in his over five-decade-old cottage. As he prepares to enter his 86th-year, thespian Madhu says he is willing to give it another shot - but it's got to be different.
"Look, even though I feel I am done and dusted in my acting career, may be I will do a new film if I feel it's something different. Honestly speaking, as things stand now, I feel I have nothing more to act. I am really happy the way my career and life has panned out," said the seasoned veteran, who turned down two mega films, one of them "Lucifer", directed by actor Prithviraj Sukumaran and starring superstar Mohanlal.
Another mega film for which the post production is currently on, "Marakkar" (The Lion of the Arabian Sea), directed by veteran Priyadarshan, was also turned down.
The veteran, now an avid YouTuber, has seen it all in a career that began way back in 1963.
Reflecting on his career and his life, sitting in the drawing room of his almost five-decade-old house in the state capital, he opened up to IANS and said the last film he did was in 2018.
Born in the heart of the state capital, Madhu, after his post-graduation in Hindi from the Banaras Hindu University, taught for a brief while at a college near here before joining a three-year course at the National School of Drama, which laid the foundation of a great actor.
Starting off with his debut "Ninamaninja Kalpadukal", the simple but suave actor in Madhu saw him donning the grease paint in a glittering career which has crossed the golden jubilee mark and by now he has acted in over 400 Malayalam films.
On his initial days in the film industry, he said he was always playing second fiddle to giants like Sathyan and Prem Nazir.
"It was fine and even while doing that, I had my own space. Two years after, my debut came 'Chemmeen' (released in 1965, it became the first South Indian film to win the Indian President's Gold Medal for the Best Film), where I played a good role," added Madhu.
Madhu is a trendsetter in the Malayalam film industry, in more ways than one. If it was "Chemmeen" that brought laurels to the Malayalam film industry, another feather in his cap was when he became the first actor to set up his own production studio on the capital city's outskirts way back in the early 1970s which he named after his only daughter Uma.
An relatively unknown fact about the thespian actor is that he has acted in the debut film of Big B, "Saat Hindustani" in 1969. He says even though they have no regular contacts, they have met on a few occasions and have recalled their old association.
"This small house where I stay, was in fact also the office of my production unit. Even though I have built a home for my daughter just next door, I am quite happy being in this small house. I have never been crazy for luxuries, be it in my dress, vehicles or homes. My favourite car was my old Ambassador, which I have sold off and now I don't have any vehicle of my own," quipped the actor.
Recalling the old times and the present one, he summed up in one sentence: "Even though my industry is called the film industry, but show me, where are the films?" "It's needless to compare, what happened then and now. Same is the case with actors, producers and directors. Today, technology has taken over and most people above 70 will have to seek the help of their grandchildren to operate a smartphone. Same is the case in the film industry too. I can't run the way I used to run many years back," Madhu added.
Among the films he has done, he rates "Kudumbhasamethem", "Spirit", "Njan Ekenanu" and "Theekanal" as his favourites.
A Padma Shri recipient, Madhu has also won five Kerala State Film awards.
Asked how he spends his time, he said: "Even though I am not donning the grease paint for a while, I really don't have any time, as I get a stream of visitors. Besides, reading takes up a lot of my time." "Just look at the bed; see the papers, files lying. It's been a month I have been planning to arrange it, but don't get time, as I do go out for meetings and programmes, depending on my choice." Asked about his daily routine, he said he is a late sleeper and hence a late riser.
"I do sleep for eight hours every day and my day begins around 11 a.m when I get up and have breakfast. Then at 4 p.m. I have tea and snacks. At 7.30 p.m. a plate of cut fruits and around 11 p.m., porridge made out wheat." "Then I open my computer and watch all the Malayalam short films available on YouTube. This year, by now I have seen over 300 short films and I have many more to be seen. By around 2.30 a.m., I go to sleep," said the veteran, with a smile on his face.
Staying alone in his house after his wife passed away in 2014, his daughter Uma is always next door to him, and Madhu is least worried if he will get another chance to don the grease paint.
"I have had a hugely chequered career and have been a producer, director, script writer and owned a production studio, so I am extremely happy. If I get something different, yes, I will do, if not, it's curtains," the veteran concluded.
(Sanu George can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org