Thursday, May 10, 2012

Back from the brink

T.P. Madhavan, who has acted in 500 Malayalam films, is back in the industry after a life-threatening illness

By Shevlin Sebastian

At 5 p.m. on January 9, P.F. Roshin Joseph, the manager of Lotus Club, got a call on his mobile. It was Dr. Abraham Cherian who told him that he had heard that his friend, the actor T.P. Madhavan was unwell. Since Madhavan stayed close to the club and was a member, Roshin was asked to check on the veteran.

When Roshin, accompanied by assistant manger, Bince Sebastian, arrived at the building, he saw that Madhavan was sitting on a chair near the entrance. “He did not seem okay to me,” says Roshin.
Says Madhavan: “I felt very tired. I remember going downstairs [from the fourth-floor flat]. Thereafter, my mind is blank.”

The duo took Madhavan’s car keys and drove him to the nearby Lakshmi Hospital . After some tests, Madhavan was taken out to do a CT scan and eventually that night, he was admitted into the Medical Trust Hospital.

Dr. Sudish Karunakaran, senior consultant neurosurgeon, at Medical Trust Hospital inspected Madhavan and observed that there was bleeding on the surface of the brain. Because of this, the pressure within the skull was enormous. It was a life-threatening situation,” he says.

At that time Madhavan was in a delirious stage. Immediately, Dr. Karunakaran did a  keyhole surgery and drained out the blood in the cranium. “In other words, we arrested the bleeding,” he says.

The actor remembers an incident during his stay. “I got up from the bed and went down the stairs, [from the fourth floor], all the way to the entrance, where I saw a big, broad-shouldered man guarding the entrance,” he says. “Frightened, I returned to the room.”

But Dr. Karunakaran is not sure such an incident took place. “A male nurse was with him throughout,” he says.

Madhavan felt that he was going to die. “I told myself: ‘I am happy with the way my life has turned out,” he says. “I thanked God for keeping my death in abeyance till my 75th year.”

But Madhavan, who has acted in 500 Malayalam films, survived. He spent three weeks in the hospital, and later had a stay in Specialists Hospital for an urinary problem. “He has made a complete recovery,” says Dr. Karunakaran.

At his apartment, Madhavan says, “When I look out of my window I can see the Ernakulathappan temple. God has saved my life. I always say thanks to Him.”

On a sunny day, Madhavan steps out to have lunch at the Lotus Club. On the street, he is immediately greeted by a pedestrian. An auto-rickshaw driver gives a smile of recognition. “Because I am still active in films, people know me,” he says. At the club, not surprisingly, waiters, and other members greet him.

“I feel fit and fine,” says Madhavan, over a thali meal. In fact, he has already returned to acting. He played small roles in a Shaji Kailas film, ‘Simhasanan’ and Renjith’s film, ‘Spirit’. In the latter film, thanks to Mohanlal, Madhavan played a role of a man sitting on a bar stool in Cochin Club and sipping whiskey. Mohanlal comes in and the bartender, played by Tiny Tom, tells the superstar, pointing at Madhavan, “Sir, look at Menon Sir. He comes in the morning, has two pegs and goes home in the afternoon. He comes in the evening and has two more pegs. He does not say anything bad to anybody.”

But for Madhavan, what really moved him was when producer Antony Perumbavoor paid him far more that what is usually given for this role. “It enabled me to recover from the hospital expenses,” says the veteran actor.  

As for Madhavan’s future plans, he wants to continue acting. “In cinema, a career does not end unless you want it to end,” he says. “Remember, at age 81, Premji played a role in Shaji Karun’s 'Piravi' and won a best actor national award.”  

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)


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