Actors are the heart and soul of the narrative: Ram Madhvani

- December 11, 2023
| By : Santosh Mehta |

Ram Madhvani shares insights into his artistic journey and the creative process that has fueled his remarkable career

GIVING PLATFORM: Ram Madhvani says he is open to providing opportunities to emerging talent

Acclaimed film director Ram Madhvani is not just a film-maker; he is a multi-faceted personality. His diverse portfolio spans directing and producing feature films, web series, short documentaries, music videos, and commercials, showcasing his versatility in the world of
visual storytelling.

Madhvani’s journey in the film industry took a pivotal turn in 2016 with Neerja, a gripping film directed by him and based on the life of air hostess Neerja Bhanot.

This powerful narrative, portraying the tragic events of the Pan Am Flight 73 hijacking in Karachi in 1986, garnered both critical acclaim and commercial success, solidifying Ram’s reputation as a director with a deft touch.

Prior to the success of Neerja, Madhvani had made his directorial debut in 2002 with the film Let’s Talk, featuring Boman Irani. The film premiered at the Locarno Film Festival and earned him the Best Debut Director accolade at the Srinivas Gollapudi National Award.

With his name now resonating in Bollywood circles, Ram further expanded his influence by directing the official theme song for Aamir Khan’s popular television show Satyamev Jayate and the iconic song for Taare Zameen Par. These musical contributions only added to his diverse and celebrated body of work. The part 2 of his directorial Aarya Season 3 will be out soon.


Neerja was a huge success and opened many doors for you. How do you feel about it?

The overwhelming success of Neerja has been truly humbling. I am grateful for the positive response I received from the audience. When I embarked on directing the film with Fox Star studios along with my co-producers Atul Kasbekar, Shanti Sivaram Maini, and Bling Unplugged, I wanted to tell a compelling and heartfelt story. The hard work paid off when the audience’s appreciation exceeded my expectations. Throughout the creative process, my focus was on doing justice to the real-life events and portraying Neerja’s courage authentically. It’s truly gratifying to know that the film has left a positive impact on the audience.

How do you feel about the role played by Sonam Kapoor as Neerja?

Sonam Kapoor has dedication, emotional depth and authentic portrayal which brought Neerja’s character to life on the screen. So, I can say that Sonam has done justice to Neerja’s character.

How do you choose stars for your films?

In choosing actors for my films, I approach the process with a humble perspective, acknowledging that film-making is a collaborative art form where every actor plays a pivotal role. I consider the actors as the heart and soul of the narrative, and my primary goal is to be in the service of my actors and to serve their talents and abilities. The selection involves a deep appreciation for their craft, that not only fit the characters on a superficial level but can also carry the roles with authenticity.

Do you give chance to newcomers?

Absolutely. I believe in maintaining a balance in my cast, considering both actors with wealth of experience and newcomers with new energy. Every actor, regardless of their tenure in the industry, brings a unique set of skills and insights to the table. I value the contributions of established actors and recognise the importance of their experience.

I am always open to providing opportunities to emerging talent to showcase their potential. It’s not about age or experience but finding the right blend to a successful and dynamic film.

HELPING HAND: Madhvani says that he gets great support from his wife on the film sets

The first two seasons of the show Aarya were a huge success, and now you have made the third season. Do you think the audience loves to watch films based on true incidents?

Certainly, the success of all the three seasons of Aarya indicates a strong interest among the audience in immersive storytelling and character-driven narratives.

While Aarya is not based on real-life events but is an adaptation of the Dutch series Penoza, the positive response from the audience indicates a growing appreciation for storytelling that feels authentic and relatable and encompasses compelling family dynamics. As a director, I appreciate the audience’s embrace of this theme along with their encouraging signal to continue crafting stories that authentically portray the complexities of familial bonds.

A lot of content on OTT platforms may use language and themes not preferred by many. Do you think this leads people to shift to big screen cinema?

The choice between streaming services and movie theatres often depends on individual preferences, convenience, and the nature of the content. Both platforms co-exist, each catering to different preferences, and the landscape of the entertainment industry is evolving with these changing dynamics. Film-makers and producers need to adapt to these changing scenarios, creating content that caters to both the cinematic and streaming platforms to engage a broad spectrum of viewers.

Do you feel more comfortable directing web series or feature films? Which medium gives you more freedom?

As a director coming from the advertising world, I’ve developed a knack for asking three crucial questions in storytelling: what are you saying, how are you saying it, and who are you saying it to? This foundation has instilled in me a deep understanding of the art of communication. I consider myself in the business of evoking emotions and passion for connecting with audiences on a profound level that transcends boundaries. I find comfort, freedom and creative fulfillment in any form of cinema, driven by the joy of making a meaningful impact and stirring emotions.

How do you decide the star cast of your films or web series?

It’s crucial to recognise that the actor-director relationship is a two-way street. And as a director, I have a vision for the characters; the actors, in essence, have the power to green-light me. I believe that casting is a collaborative decision where actors, with their unique talents and choices, play an important role in shaping the direction of the project. It’s not just about me choosing the actors; rather, the actors choose to collaborate with me based on the vision and potential they see in the project. The ensemble cast, collectively, played a vital role in the success of the series.

How do you like the Delhi audience?

As a director, my approach is to appreciate and connect with all audiences, and Delhiites holds a special place. I don’t differentiate between audiences based on location; rather, I aim to create content that resonates universally and can be embraced by people from various regions and from different walks of life. My goal is to be loved and appreciated by audiences across the board, transcending geographical boundaries.

What kind of moral support does your wife, Amita Madhvani, give you?

Amita, being both the co-producer and my wife, provides invaluable moral support. Her optimism, even in the midst of chaotic shoots or tight schedules, keeps the atmosphere light and positive. As a co-producer, she adds that extra sprinkle of magic to the projects. Plus, she’s not just a co-producer; she’s my go-to person for a quick pep talk. Her unwavering support is actually the secret sauce that makes every project a labour of love and laughter.

Any interesting or memorable incidents that you want to share with our readers?

One memorable incident that stands out is during the shooting of a crucial climax scene in Aarya Season 3. The weather was unpredictably moody. Just as we were about to start filming, a sudden downpour caught us off guard. In the midst of chaos, instead of cancelling our plans, the cast and crew turned it into an impromptu bonding moment. It was a moment of shared camaraderie, a reminder that despite the challenges, the passion for storytelling unites us all and where even unexpected challenges can turn into beautiful memories.

Any memories of Delhi?

Delhi holds a special place in my heart, and it’s not just about the vibrant culture and history. One aspect that always stands out for me is the incredible food scene in Delhi. I consider myself a big foodie, and Delhi has never failed to tantalise my taste-buds. Delhi’s food culture is truly something to cherish, and it adds an extra layer of richness to my memories of this lively and culturally rich city.

Please tell us something about your new projects.

While I can’t give out any specific details at this moment, I want to express my excitement about multiple projects in the pipeline. The team and I are dedicated to delivering meaningful and engaging content. When the time is right, we’ll be thrilled to share more about our upcoming ventures. As of now, our primary focus is on receiving the same level of audience reception and love for part 2 of Aarya Season 3 which we received for part 1. The response has been incredibly gratifying for all of us.