Madhoo: ‘I don’t want to play Ajay Devgn’s mom, we were launched together’


Actors Madhoo, Aishwarya Rajesh, Malavika Mohanan, cinematographer Yamini Yagnamurthy, Aparna Purohit, head of India Originals, Amazon Prime Video, producer Resham Ghatala, director Swathi Raghuraaman, and Smriti Kiran, founder of Polka Dots LightBox, came together for the latest episode of Maitri: Female First Collective. Matiri by Prime Video is an initiative to convene women changemakers and foster meaningful conversations. Madhoo, who was a leading actor in the 90s, shared her reason for leaving the industry. She cited the lack of good characters for women as the reason for taking a break from acting.

When asked about the difficulties faced in the industry, Malavika, who has acted in Vijay’s Master, said, “When I initially started acting and got deeper into the industry, it was a shocker to see the gender dynamics. I was conditioned differently. I never had to face something like that before. Then I had to face this. Oh my god! So much of it is around the actors, which is again so normalised. To elevate somebody of the male gender to a certain stature, especially if they are doing well in whatever field it is. That everything circles them pretty much. Now, that I am doing back-to-back films I think there is a lack of authored-backed roles for women. Just-well written women characters, instead of being a catalyst in the man’s mission.”

Madhoo added, “That’s the reason I left the film industry in the first place. What had happened to me by then was… I had done movies like Roja, Annaya, and Yoddha…and you know many other films in different languages with really good roles. Then I went into Hindi films and became a resident in Mumbai. I did more Hindi films then. I was part of films in which action heroes were leading… you know nineties…I have no complaints. I danced in a lot of movies. I love to dance. But after doing something like Roja and going back to that… I was totally unhappy about that. When my shooting dates used to come, I was really unhappy. That’s when I decided to quit. Then I wrote a letter to everyone saying I am quitting. The intention was that you all don’t deserve me. It was childhood arrogance though. Later, I realised I am an artiste, and I have to do this. That’s why I came back.”

Aishwarya Rajesh then shared that she was discriminated against for being dark-skinned and was told she can never be an actor or even a supporting actor. “I then decided to spite them and slowly did female-centric films, and then I realised I didn’t get offers from the big stars. Everyone appreciated me for my performance in Kaaka Muttai, but the same stars except for Dhanush, Vijay Sethupathi, and Sivakarthikeyan, no one else came forward to work with me. I used to wonder why. They tell me maybe those roles are beneath me (laughs).”

When asked about how she feels about being associated with words like ‘vintage actress’, ‘yesteryear star’, and ‘ageing actress’, Madhoo said, “Ageing is a privilege. If you are afraid to age, then you will die. Who wants to die? We are doing yoga to have a long life. When you age, how can you want to look like your daughter who is 20? You cannot. The thing is not to look young. The thing is to feel youthful. When I go to a nightclub and dance in a mini-skirt, people ask me, ‘At 50 why do you want to do this?’ I am like, ‘What is it you if I flaunt this leg at 50?”

She added, “However when it comes to films, it is difficult to get a role because I don’t want to do Ajay Devgn’s mother role, which is very probable. We were launched together… we are the same age. But things are changing because Tabu and Devgn did a film in which both were of the same age. That’s why I am extremely grateful for the change the industry has gone through.”

Madhoo is currently seen in the Amazon Prime Video series Sweet Kaaram Coffee.


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