“Start living life from right this moment, let go all the past, start with gratitude and believe that life is perfect and wonderful.”– Madhoo
Madhoo Shah is a renowned Indian film actress known for her works predominantly in Bollywood, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu films. With more than 50 films to her credit, she debuted in Bollywood along with Superstar Ajay Devgn in ‘Phool Aur Kaante’ . She is best remembered for her portrayal of Roja in Mani Ratnam’s Tamil hit Roja (1992), which won the National Film Award for Best Film on National Integration.
Q. This particular image (as seen above) of Yours, from the landmark film Roja is very intriguing and everyone identifies You with this image, as it had positioned You on a very different scale among the people /audience till today. Do You identify with this image ? Have You ever co-related your life with this innocent inquisitiveness and how much?
It’s a funny thing, I see myself as this picture because actually is, you see this girl in the movie sees a snow mountain for the very first time and she is a South Indian girl who has never seen a snow mountain, so she is completely in awe. In the image, she is looking upward, forward and is in awe of the magnitude and the beauty, in front of her. In that way, I would like to describe myself, in awe of beauty of life, in awe for the better things to come in future, in awe of wondrous nature. This picture is really me and my outlook towards the life is this.
Q.With more than 50 films to your credit in various languages including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malyalam is a rare feet for anyone. Would You like to share your journey with us ? How it feels when You look back?
Back in the day, many years ago, when I was working, I did not think about the journey of life or I about the career. I did not think of anything, it was just I was working and kept doing one movie after the other, but today where I stand, I have lived enough life to look back. I think it has been a wonderful journey. Every step , sometimes a big leap and sometimes a small step, but a step has always been a step, I never stood still. May be had took just a moment, to catch my breath and sometimes the step forward has not been easy, it’s been challenging, it’s been difficult. But, yet it has always been forward and I have enjoyed thoroughly. (Below is the famous song – ‘Chhoti si Aasha’ from the film – Roja)
Q. Your parents wanted You to become doctor or engineer. How acting happened ? Did You face challenges initially?
I have always wanted to be an actor because I come from a family of actors and art. My mother was a dancer and Ms Hema Malini ji is my aunt, she is an actor. So, I have seen a lot of actors in the family and always wanted to become an actress and could be an actor because of my South Indian background. My family just wanted me to be educated and there was a lot of fear. I did not feel that I had enough support to get me into the business, so I started of very shyly and nervously, but the life was very beautiful and opportunities came in my way and when they came, they came pretty easy. I might have always wanted to be an actor and may have struggled a little bit to get my opportunities, but yes opportunities came in my way whether it was small or big. I believe that life just happens and if you allow it to happen it will happen to you.
Q.You debuted in Bollywood with ‘Phool Aur Kaante’ along with Mr. Ajay Devgn, which was a massive hit. Still, people know you as Roja girl, which was a regional film. How did you get Roja? How life changed after that?
Well before Roja, I was already working in south doing movies like Azhagan, Ottayal Pattalam, Neelagiri. Roja, just came as one of the plenty, but It so happened that it got dubbed in Hindi as well, because it was on a national integration. I remember, when Roja was being dubbed was told of it, I myself laughed and said, ‘No regional film is dubbed in Hindi and why are you wasting your chance?’. They did not listen to me as well, Thank God! They came up with another dubbing artist for my voice. I was in Chennai in those days and somebody said, We are going to release this movie and we have already dubbed your voice , come and see it’. When I went and saw, was horrified with someone else’s voice for me. By then, I was already a Bollywood actor with movies, Phool Aur Kaaten and Pechaan. I said, ‘if you’re releasing Roja in hindi than it will be in my own voice.’ So, I re -dubbed the film for them and then it was released.
Q.In recent Ted Talk, You said that you always thought you were not good enough. What do You mean by the same?
I always wanted to be an actor and it is the calling of my soul. Even today, I love being an actor. There may be other situations that I may not be good with, like may be, my makeup and maybe, I do not have a great designer and you know people get nervous in such situations. I have learned one thing that you should just keep on doing what you want to do and that is how I kept going. I did not keep working because I thought I was the best, but I kept doing because I knew I love doing it and better things just come. You learn from mistakes, you better yourself. You grow and become confident. I did not win because I was born to be a winner, but, I won because I was not afraid to fall many times.
Q. What one thing life has taught you?
I think you should start with gratitude and what is there in the moment, like at that moment- is perfect, as we are still living.
Q.How important it is to be content and happy in life? How important it is to identify the ordinary? How important it is to value the surrounding?
Human being are not just human, but get boost from desire, a desire to become bigger and better, a desire to move forward with what life is offering. So, you should start moving. I am grateful for my break and all my movies, I am grateful for that every moment. You don’t stop there, there is a little bit of content to make you unhappy, but discontent to pursue bigger things and my desire takes me to further things. The basis of life is in the moment, to be grateful for everything and that is not easy and that is life. I try, pray and be thankful. I’ll tell everyone to start in being what you have first and then proceed to make more of what you want.
Q. Do you feel any concern related to society, environment , child and women abuse, which needs immediate attention?
Yes somehow I feel, when I grew up as a little girl, I was not sure, whether, I was unaware or ignored. But today, we are aware of everything thing because of the social media and news channels. It seems there is a lot of violence, hatred and pain, more pain than I saw, as I was growing. So, this makes me a little more concerned. I am not in a position, I don’t think of myself as somebody who is very evolved. I am not here to preach, but would like to start with myself, if I can give more love, forgive people who hurt me and teach my children to be kind and gentle human beings .
Q. If given a chance, would you like to make Roja again, a contemporary take ?
Actually, I do not have a contemporary take on the film, but it is my desire to work with Mr. Mani Ratnam, because that girl who worked in Roja 30 years ago, was very naive and innocent. I still believe that I have been able to retain lot of my innocence, but, I am not so naïve now, life and experience has taught me many things. I would like to collaborate with Mr. Mani Ratnam to see, how I have changed as an artist, hopefully and gratefully to create another successful movie.
Q. What would you like to tell to your fans and readers? Any message?
‘Start living life from right this moment, let go all the past, start with gratitude and believe that life is perfect and wonderful.’