By Subhash K Jha: While Sharman Joshi didn't have to work that hard on looking 22 for Rajkumar Hirani's '3 Idiots', Aamir Khan and Madhavan had to work really hard to look like young IIT students.
Says Maddy, "The fact that we shot at the Bangalore IIT Bangalore really helped. It was all thanks to Aamir. He suggested we shoot there. Once we went into an actual institute all three of us Aamir, Sharman and I, immediately began to feel like students. Age was never an issue because I got the role after an audition. Once I was seen to fit in no one was looking at my passport to check my age. As for the rest, including the physicality once we got into the IIT everything else followed. Incidentally I've studied in an institution similar to the IIT. I know that life."

Aamir had decided to play badminton to stay youthful and fit. Maddy decided to follow suit. While playing with Prakash Padukone- no less, ahem -Maddy badly injured his knee. A kind of injury that could've ruined his chances of doing the pivotal role in such an important film like '3 Idiots'.

Maddy grows quiet as he re-lives the nightmare. "I tore a ligament in my knee and couldn't walk. My first thought was, 'Oh my God! Would I be able to continue shooting?' Luckily for me my director Rajkumar Hirani and Aamir were extremely supportive. I don't think I could've gone through the film without them, not with that knee of mine."

Hirani, apparently on Aamir's suggestion, wrote a knee-protection-cum-bandage for Maddy's character.

Says Maddy, "All three of us have two different looks in the film, one in college and one after. You'll see me wearing that knee protection-bandage all through my college scenes. It's there because I got hurt. And the hurt was written into the script."

Getting emotional about Aamir, Maddy says, "Both Sharman and I had worked with Aamir in 'Rang De Basanti'. I don't know if he recommended me. Maybe he suggested my name. Once I was on, Aamir just blended in as part of the threesome. There was never any attempt of one-upping because he is 'the' Aamir Khan. All three of us were IIT students learning the lessons of life the hard way. Aamir made invaluable suggestions including the badminton."

But didn't Aamir get a leading lady Kareena Kapoor, a privilege denied to Maddy?

"No way!" Maddy jumps to Aamir's defense. "Sorry, Aamir didn't get Kareena. The script got him Kareena. We shot what was written, not what suited Aamir's stardom. His ability to be part of an ensemble in spite of his status is incredible."

(Posted on 23 December 2009, 1685823240 44O200O112O172)