R. Madhavan and Surveen Chawla have teamed up for the first time in the upcoming Netflix show, Decoupled, available to stream from December 17. The show is based on the life of a married couple – Arya and Shruti – who decide to part ways but are yet to make it public, and are, therefore, still together in the eyes of their family (including their school-going daughter), friends and neighbours.
The actors talk about what they learnt from their show, the advice they’d like to give to their characters and the rules of navigating a happy marriage.
Sneha Menon Desai (SMD): Both of you are married and happily so. Can you give your characters, Arya and Shruti, a piece of advice that could possibly save their marriage?
Surveen Chawla (SC): You need to give it a little more time, put in a little more effort, have a bit of patience and work on it a tad more just before you give it up.
R. Madhavan (RM): I’d tell Arya to develop a social filter that doesn’t make him so absurd. Maybe then, his marriage can be saved. All his other attributes are working fine.
SMD: What I do love about Arya is that he can, so easily, call a spade a spade. So, tell me what’s the one thing about marriage that you want to bust, once and for all?
RM: ‘Happily married.’ That, as a destination, is overrated. I don’t think everybody should aim for a happily married life. You should aim for a companionship over a period of time that is worth nourishing and is contributing to each other’s peace of mind as you grow older. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about happily being married and smiling all the time – that’s a myth.
SC: I couldn’t agree more. For me, it’s about having that partnership and making it last.
SMD: What does doing a show like this teach you or show you about your own marriages? Did you run back home a little quicker?
SC: Yes, it taught me to be more accepting of the constantly changing human being. It’s very easy for me to say that and is going to be a work-in-progress for as long as I live but that’s what it is.
RM: I think this show has made me a slightly better husband. I’m able to see the other point of view. Sometimes, these kind of realisations come from the most unexpected quarters and for me, it has come through Decoupled.
SMD: Madhavan, your son is now an eligible bachelor and is making all the waves on social media. Are you up-to-date with the rules of new-age dating or does it baffle you?
RM: Forget about new-age dating, the new age baffles me. I’m not able to understand their generation at all but I do have a lot of hope for them. I really think that they are far more evolved and informed as opposed to us. We were juveniles when we were 16. They’re young adults and socially conscious. My son is more into sports and has gained some popularity because he has done well in it and that he’s my son. Both of us know that he has a long way to go and I’m very happy that he realizes that. He handles that very maturely.
SMD: We often associate Bollywood with breakups and hookups. For someone who’s been married for 20 years and has a rather squeaky clean image, what are the rules of navigating a happy marriage in Bollywood?
RM: To each his own. I’m not going to pass a judgement on what anybody does. I have my own ghosts and skeletons in my closet. But at the end of the day, you would never want to hurt anybody. If something is important to you, you have to nourish it and keep it close to you, and I try my best to do that.
SMD: Surveen, do you have any inputs?
SC: What personally worked for me was that I married somebody who did not belong here [the film industry]. I go back to someone who maintains a little bit of normalcy in life. This is a bubble, and it keeps you far, far away from reality. Going back to that person who makes sure you’re grounded and keeps that check on you and fly too high [is important].
RM: That comes naturally to my wife. She has put up Hrithik Roshan’s picture on my cupboard saying, ‘Become like this first and then you can fly high.’ That one picture does it. (laughs)