Home » R Madhavan’s Speech on India in 2030 at Harvard University (Full Transcript)

R Madhavan’s Speech on India in 2030 at Harvard University (Full Transcript)

But hey, ladies and gentlemen, what do I know? I am an actor.Thank you very much for your patient hearing.

And if I’m looking wise enough, I’m open to questions.

Question-and-answer session

Audience: Okay, wait, wait, OK, is this OK. It works. OK, sorry –

R Madhavan: Give her some water.

Audience: No, no, OK sorry. OK, I’ve been trying to do this for two days, I’ve been lucky stalking you. OK, first of all, I want to say I’m a huge fan, I wrote it down, I look weird. OK, first of all, I’m a Tamil American but I grew up on Alaipayuthey and then LA and I am like a huge fan of yours. And I have a question and it is given that you — this is an actor-related question because you’re an actor. Given that you have done a very good job at portraying diverse aspects of the Tamil experience in Kollywood, in recent years Bollywood actors have started trying to represent South Indians, especially Tamils and Tamil Brahmins, would you be interested in or feel pressured into taking on a stereotypical South Indian role if offered to you?

R Madhavan: Do I dare ask you her to repeat the question? I couldn’t hear you properly; I’m so sorry. Just I understood the gist – just the questions if you can –

Audience: Sorry, would you be — basically would you be interested if offered to you in Bollywood to take on a Tamil Brahmin or South Indian role in general?

R Madhavan: Will I be willing to take on a South Indian Brahmin or a Tamil role in a Hindi film, in a Bollywood film, is that what your question was?

Audience: Yes.

R Madhavan: Of course, I mean if the money is right –

Audience: But would you be like worried about maybe being in a stereotypical like –

R Madhavan: I think it’s a very honest question, but I think the stereotypical is to burden the word for everything that we use today; it’s politically correct and everything but it doesn’t really have any effect in my opinion, because I’ll tell you, I have to listen to a story, I have to be convinced that this is going to work for my audiences. And I have to be convinced the producer is able to pay me by the end of the day, and lo and behold I am a Tamil brahmin in a Hindi film, no problem. Thank you so much for the excitement.

Audience: Hi, so I actually wanted to ask you this yesterday but there was like a mob, so –

R Madhavan: So this doesn’t qualify – this is yesterday’s question.

Audience: Yes, exactly. So my name is Pranathi and I actually grew up in Mumbai, like a lot of other people and watched a lot of your movies and I’m a vegetarian as well. So I really admired how you advocated for animal rights, so — but my question is actually about 3 Idiots. So you spoke about how a lot of your acting roles was based on your experience. So I was wondering, because 3 Idiots really does touch on a really important point that in the Indian education system there is a lot of pressure and this pressure can result in a lot of suicides by students. So I was wondering how did your personal experience as — because you did mention how you knew from the start that you did not want to be an engineer, so how did you channel that into your like acting?

R Madhavan: OK, so thank you for the question. See, the thing is what I tried to show in 3 Idiots was actually what happened at home. My dad was distraught that I didn’t want to pursue engineering as a career or even join an engineering college, and I had to tell him that I knew, what I didn’t want to do is not become an engineer. Let me tell you this — the thing that we said about in 3 Idiots. I do agree that there’s undue pressure on the education system and amongst the families for their children to excel but that’s not necessarily bad. I think it’s important to have pressure at that age. I don’t think that an examination and failing an exam because you’re not able to reproduce what you remembered at the right time, at that particular moment of time in your life is a measure of how successful you will be the rest of your life. But it’s also a measure of your tenacity to be able to reproduce that under pressure which is going to be something that you’ll be doing every day of your professional life. So yeah, let’s not under-rate that pressure but at the same time I think it’s important for parents to know that that is not the be-all and end-all and that is not a death warrant that you signed just because you flunked on a particular subject. Thank you.

Well, thank you so much for the patient hearing and have a great evening, ladies and gentlemen.

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