EXCLUSIVE: I’m happy about my journey so far in cinema, says Rajesh Madhavan

The Malayalam actor talks about his theater background, latest release, friendship with director Ratheesh Balakrishnan, and much more.

ByArjun Ramachandran

Published May 26, 2024 | 10:00 AMUpdatedMay 26, 2024 | 10:00 AM

Rajesh Madhavan scores a hit with Sureshanteyum Sumalathayudeyum Hridayahariyaya Pranayakadha

Malayalam actor Rajesh Madhavan, a native of Kerala’s Kasargod, became popular with his debut Maheshinte Prathikaaram (2016).

Apart from acting, worked as a casting director for Nna Thaan Case Kodu (2022) and assistant director for Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum (2017) and Kumbalangi Nights (2019).

Rajesh Madhavan played the lead in director Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval’s spin-off film Sureshanteyum Sumalathayudeyum Hridayahariyaya Pranayakadha.

The flick has been receiving a good response from critics and audiences alike.

In an interview with South First, Rajesh Madhavan talks about his journey from a theater artist to a film actor, his latest release, his friendship with Ratheesh, and a lot more.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. Tell us about your theater background.

A. In my school days, I was part of a theater group in Kasargod. I also studied drama along with schooling.

Though I’m from Kasargod, I have connections with Payyanur in Kannur. Payyanur is popular for amateur dramas and theater artists. Around 100-200 artists are part of any drama organised in Payyanur.

I must say, all this helped me understand the nuances of acting, filmmaking, and a lot more.

Sureshanteyum Sumalathayudeyum Hridayahariyaya Pranayakadha review: An experimental love story that is vocal about caste system in art

Q. Interestingly, Sureshanteyum Sumalathayudeyum Hridayahariyaya Pranayakadha also has a theater backdrop. What were your contributions to the movie as a theater artist?

Rajesh Madhavan plays Suresh in the movie

Rajesh Madhavan plays Suresh in the movie. (Supplied)

A. I was excited when I was told that the movie (Sureshanteyum Sumalathayudeyum Hridayahariyaya Pranayakadha) has a drama backdrop.

The set was more like a drama camp and we all enjoyed the shooting process.

I wasn’t academically strong but I excelled in drama. I wrote and acted in drama.

During this process, my body also learnt a lot. It became a part of the drama and reacted accordingly.

I could control my body and experiment with it while playing different characters only because of my theater background.

Q. How did you come up with the idea of a spin-off movie?

A. The thought of a spin-off movie came after Nna Thaan Case Kodu became a super hit.

Post-success, many people spoke about Sumalatha-Suresh’s parallel story. That’s when we thought of bringing out a spin-off. We discussed the story and other aspects later.

Q. The movie also talks about caste discrimination. What is your take on it?

A: Caste discrimination is an ongoing issue in our society. In Sureshanteyum Sumalathayudeyum Hridayahariyaya Pranayakadha, this has been highlighted in different periods.

However, director Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval gets the credit for the satires on the issue. They were taken from his casual conversations on various social issues.

Related: ‘Sureshanteyum Sumalathayudeyum Hridayahariyaya Pranayakadha’ trailer promises laughs

Q. Sureshanteyum Sumalathayudeyum Hridayahariyaya Pranayakadha is shot in two to three periods. How was the shooting process?

Rajesh Madhavan with Ratheesh Poduval

Rajesh Madhavan with Ratheesh Poduval. (Supplied)

A. We shot the 2013 period first, then the 2023 part, and next proceeded to the 90s and 60s.

Each period was shot during different schedules. We had to ensure the continuity of the characters, especially since they were all shown in different periods.

The shooting had a lot of artwork, costumes, and everything. We shot the film in over 110 days. It was fun.

Q. You and Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval have worked together in Android Kunjappan and other films. How did your rapport help in the cinema-making process?

A. I came to know about Ratheesh ettan (a term to show respect) only during the shooting of Android Kunjappan (2019).

Since then, I liked his work and working style.

I worked with him later as an actor and casting director. He is one of my close friends in the film industry.

Ratheesh is a humorous person. Every character penned by him has a peculiar aspect.

I like to be part of his experiments which is why he gives me his scripts in advance. All that I need to do is follow the script and perform accordingly.

As you can see, all our films offer different experiences to the viewers.

Related: ‘Sureshanteyum Sumalathayudeyum Hridhayahariyaya Pranayakadha’ is a spin-off movie: Ratheesh

Q. Tell us about your experiences working with filmmakers like Dileesh Pothan, Dileesh Nair, and Syam Pushkaran.

A. All these directors are my seniors in the industry. We often met and discussed cinema. That is how I debuted in Dileesh Pothan’s Maheshinte Prathikaaram (2016).

I followed it up with Kumbalangi Nights (directorial debut of Syam Pushkaran) and Mayanadhi (2017, helmed by Dileesh Nair).

However, by the time of Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, I gained a good experience in films.

In Kumbalangi Nights, I worked in the casting process, too. It was rare and nice to be part of different stages of cinema.

Q. How do you define your journey in films?

Rajesh Madhavan and Kunchako Boban in Nna Than Case Kodu

Rajesh Madhavan and Kunchako Boban in ‘Nna Than Case Kodu’. (Supplied)

A. I didn’t have a proper idea of what to do when I entered the Malayalam film industry. All I knew was that I wanted to direct a movie. The rest fell into place as I worked.

I hail from a normal family in Kasargod and never thought of foraying into movies. But today, I played the lead role in a film and am all set to wield the megaphone.

Looking back, I have come a long way. I am delighted with the journey so far.

However, the young generation in my village still doesn’t dare to dream big. Nevertheless, if my journey inspires them and helps them realise their dreams, I will be more than happy.

Q. Tell us about your directorial debut Pennum Porattam.

A. Well, 90 percent of the shoot of Pennum Porattam is over.

It’s a small experimental movie, set against the backdrop of Kollengode village, in Palakkad. It revolves around a dog in the village.

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