Nobody would have, perhaps, ever imagined that R Madhavan and Surveen Chawla would share such electric chemistry if they were to be cast together in a show. But, that is exactly what they do in Decoupled, the latest show that’s got everyone talking. It’s fun, witty and irreverent to a fault – you’re almost afraid of how the woke brigade is going to react with every minute of the show you watch. It’s some phenomenal work by Manu Joseph who R Madhavan has modelled his Arya Iyer over. In an exclusive interview with Filmfare, Surveen and Madhavan speak about social media, open marriages and laugh – a lot.
Have you two known each other for a while? Because your chemistry in the show is amazing.
Surveen: Maddy, I can speak for you as well when it comes to this. It was our first day of test shoot and we were doing a scene in the car and that was our first scene. By the time we got over with the scene, we couldn’t believe what had just happened. We couldn’t believe that we just met right now, right here, on set and yes, of course, we were interacting a bit on zoom calls because of the pandemic. I am getting goosebumps while I say this because it was very hard to believe that first day, first scene, on the day of test shoot and it just felt like something else and I think that’s the thing about chemistry, you can’t kind of try hard and make it happen because that’s never gonna happen, So I don’t know whoever thought of you and me and the whole time, the entire team who thought of you and me, kind of, maybe, just maybe got it right (laughs).
‘Loneliness is not the scarcity of people, it is hot people who don’t wanna be with you’ – this is the one line that has gotten social media buzzing. How do Surveen and Madhavan feel about this?
R Madhavan: I don’t think it can get more accurate, it’s a keen observation. Look how Arya and Hardik have done this…
Surveen: Manu has!
R Madhavan: My apologies, I keep saying Arya because I have actually designed Arya over Manu, I have ditto copied his attitude in the film because Manu has the ability to say the darndest things without any idea of the repercussions and he says it so innocently that you are able to accept his point of view and not question the intent, that’s how I want Arya to me. But that line just shocked me, I was like ‘Haan yar, you know I am too hot for the people who want to be with me and I am not hot enough for the people who I want to be with,’ (laughs) was a line we had in college which made a lot of sense. It’s so beautifully put and I think people are able to relate to it, it doesn’t matter how you are implying, you are able to relate to that. It doesn’t have to be a husband or a wife, over a period of time you realise that ‘Haan yaar, I am not as young as I used to be and the young ones that I want to be with and talk about, don’t think I am their age group anyways’, so it’s a great realisation.
In the same scene, of course, both of you have discussed open marriage to an extent. What do you personally feel about an open marriage or an open relationship?
Surveen: I mean to each his own yaar, I don’t think I will be comfortable with the idea and I think that’s what marriage is about, it’s to each his own and I feel like we should stop making judgements about what works for other people, what is working or what might not be working for other people. It doesn’t work for me personally. For me, it’s this or that, there’s no grey and I’d rather be honest to myself and honest to my feelings and honest to people around me, not just that one person.
R Madhavan: I think your question is about the feasibility of an open marriage. For that, you have to define what marriage actually means to you and that is largely conditioned and decided depending on your conditions. Your conditioning, the society you live in, the kind of people you spend time with, the kind of family that you are and that’s what defines marriage. In some places, the wife or the husband would go into divorce just because the husband spoke to another woman on the phone and at other places, if the husband finds out that the girl is still in touch with one of her old friends, who is a guy, that is good enough for people to break up. Without passing judgement, like Surveen said to each his own, but an open marriage is an exception. You are making an exception to the reason that you got married and if your families are involved, they are going to look at it and think that you have made an exception, you have redefined marriage for them in a manner that has not been done before and that’s going to crop up a lot of hurdles and a lot of challenges for you, emotionally and socially.
Decoupled also touches on cancel culture and social media. As celebrities, have you become more careful about what you put out there?
R Madhavan: It’s quite a shock when you realize that there are very negative people on the internet as well and they are blank-faced armchair warriors, who have a judgement to pass just about everything you say, do or are and you know that starts playing heavily on your head. There’s actually a phenomenal line in this series that Manu has written – one of my friends says that the brain is programmed to remember trauma more than joy and most marriages are actually far happier than what people think it to be because the trauma has registered longer. The same things happen on Twitter, I think, if you have 10,000 great messages putting thumbs up and you have 2 guys who are being jerks, the impact of those 2 guys, the trauma of those 2 guys not liking you, or publishing something negative is far more than the collective joy of the 9998 who actually appreciated your work, so that learning is there, that understanding has become normal. We don’t have to take it too seriously because social media is a bare percentage, a very minute percentage of the actual population and public and so as celebrities, it seems like we have another world on social media, where people are passing judgements left, right and centre but we go out in real life and meet people. The acceptance and love are far greater than what social media would lead you to believe and I think one has to emphasise more on the real-life that you have on due as supposed to the digital one.
Madhavan, every review of the trailer that I have read online, says that you have shed your good boy status for this project. What do you have to say about that?
I am so glad yaar, I have tired of my good boy status, I am not a lover boy anymore, I am 52, going to be. So, yaa, that means what I was trying to portray is working and I am very excited about it and I hope that it works for them. I am not really a good boy, man, I mean I have all my eccentricities and nastiness, and ask my wife, she’ll tell you and I am an angry person so it is sometimes good to bring those things on the screen as well.