In fact he is such a cool person, that on the day of this interview he chose to ride his Yamaha V-Max all the way from his suburban home to the city in the afternoon heat. "Doesn't it make more sense than getting stuck in traffic?" he questions honestly. Right. Looks like the era of 'wouldn't step out of their air-conditioned cars until their chauffeur doesn't open up the door' kind of rich people is pass.
It's just when he finally cued one can start questioning, that reality flashed back and realization dawned that he is indeed a celebrity!
What's this with the number 3 following you right from 13-B, then 3 Idiots, now Teen Patti?
Yes, that's right it's been quite some time that I've got this affiliation (laughs). But on a serious note, after Teen Patti, Tannu weds Mannu is lined up and you will say what's this association with alphabet 'T'? So see connections can be drawn any which ways.
What is Teen Patti about?
When I was in college, I used to frown at men in their forties driving expensive cars. I thought to myself, the car would look better on me (laughs). The mentality of youngsters even today is pretty much the same… (shows I'm not that old). Today this feeling is more aggravated in them…especially with the boom in BPOs. The need for instant gratification is high.
If people are not satisfied with their jobs they change it like it's a dress. There's restlessness to get what they want is getting higher every day. Risk taking is good, but it can prove to be expensive. Teen Patti revolves around this fact.
This game of Teen Patti is related to numbers and probability. We break a sort of code and get to know the real deal behind winning it. We go out to experiment and prove this theory. The theory is right and the success changes our attitudes. How this affects our lives and the mess-up of things when the want for anything goes overboard is the basic premise of the film.
Tell us about your character.
I play Shantanu Biswas, a professor, who is liked by all the girls…and he likes the girls back (laughs). All of my students go out of the college, become successful and rich. Seeing this he begins wondering – I've taught these people and now they're richer than me. When is it ever gonna be my turn? What about me? And this is when he stumbles across this whole card game scenario.
How was it working with Big B?
Honestly, when Leena and Ambika told me that Big B is a part of this project, I told them how genuinely excited I was. The meeting was over, they left me and I think probably one of them must have conveyed my feelings to Big B over the phone. Fifteen minutes after the two left I got an SMS saying- 'I'm happy you're on this project. Looking forward to work with you.' And it was from Amit Ji! See? He is the sort of person who makes you feel he wants to work with you.
And all through the shoot, he was like a kid. After pack-up I used to play with the nearby college boys. So when Amitji came to know of it, he told me he'd be joining too. So then every day after the pack up we used to play badminton, table tennis or even golf.
And how was it working with Ben Kingsley?
I had to shoot just for a day with him. I'm a big fan of him …but then like I said, the best part about working with superstars is that they don't show that they have achieved so much in life.
On one side you have veterans like Big B and Ben Kingsley and the other side you have newcomers like Shraddha Kapoor and Vaibhav Talwar. How was it working with such an eclectic group?
Leena had insisted on workshops. So during the workshops, the ice broke between all of us and we all sort of settled on a same level. Then it wasn't like –Oh my god that's Madhavan. It was like - Hey Maddy, wassup?
In Teen Patti, you've had a female director (Leena Yadav) as well as a producer (Ambika Hinduja)…
Yes! And it's a very difficult thing to work with women (laughs). Usually when I tell my director I want to go early today he understands and lets me go. But here, Leena would agree at first but then when the time comes she would get all teary eyed and look at me and say- Agar yeh aaj nahi hua toh (if this doesn't get over by today)…and then I get scared. Because those tears…they are dangerous!
But the good thing about this is that, everything was disciplined. This attitude of women makes them more efficient and it was basically a smooth shoot for all of us.
Teen Patti, produced by Ambika Hinduja and directed by Leena Yadav, releases tomorrow February 26, 2010.
Reporter and Author: Susan Jose