An engineer-turned international movie star remembers exchange student days in Stettler

A former exchange student from India, who came to study at the Wm. E Hay High School as part of a Rotary student exchange program 21 years ago, returned to Stettler last week, with a substantially different profile but with similar feelings.

With his family – Madhavan Ranganathan with his wife Sarita Krishnan and son Vedaant during their recent trip to Stettler.

A former exchange student from India, who came to study at the Wm. E Hay High School as part of a Rotary student exchange program 21 years ago, returned to Stettler last week, with a substantially different profile but with similar feelings.

Madhavan Ranganathan, known widely as Maddy, a Bollywood movie star stopped by the town last week to visit one of the families he stayed with during his time as an exchange student.

Maddy spent time with Dr. Roger Bruntjen and his family to remember the fond memories of his youth.

Speaking to the Independent before his departure, Madhavan Ranganathan said he was in Alberta at the invitation of the company which released his latest movie “Three Idiots” in North America, which he described as one of the major blockbusters of the year. He said he was watching the movie with his fans and doing question and answer sessions after the movie. Having come to the province, he said he also wanted to visit his hosts of 21 years ago.

“Through the Rotary I stayed with five families, including an Indian family, the Karias, then a cowboy family, the Potters, near Botha, then I stayed with Dr Bruntjen, later I stayed with the family of veterinarian doctor Jim Mailers, and the family of lawyer Mr. Olton and finally I stayed with the Pfeiffers,” Ranganathan said in reference to his time he spent in Stettler when he was 17.

Ranganathan said despite two decades having passed since his stay in Stettler, he said he did not see too many changes.

“Rest of the world has changed quite a bit but the changes in Stettler have not been as dramatic as the rest of the world,” he said.

“The change that I have seen is that many oil companies have moved in and there are a lot more oil rigs and also it looks a lot more populated.”

But he added that he didn’t have enough time to observe a lot more as his visit was scheduled to be brief.

As to how he turned out to be an actor, Ranganathan said he did not pursue the acting career, but that the career had pursued him.

“I actually studied to be an engineer, “ he said.

“Then when I was teaching in Bombay, I got an offer to act on one of the soaps. I never decided to be an actor but the profession chose me.”

Manganathan said he had so far made 47 films most of them dramas.

Has his experience as an exchange student had any role in his performance as a successful actor?

“I was at a very impressionable age when I was in Stettler, “ said Ranganthan.

“I got to see an aspect of life that I had never seen before in India, as I come from a small town in India.”

“I experienced a lifestyle that I could not have ever, ever seen or experienced in India, and there was an amazing amount of warmth amongst the people of Stettler.

“They were curious but at the same time they were very helpful and friendly, I remember a number of Rotarians who went out of their way to take me to skiing,” he said.

“I had done more Canadian things than most of Canadians of my age had done when I left.”

“On the whole, it helped me understand how people attach importance to different things and I learned to be tolerant, and that made me far more open.”

“As an actor, one can rely only on one’s experience and I got abundance of it when I was in Stettler.”

R. Madhavan (b. 1 June 1970, Jamshedpur, India), also called Maddy is a prominent regional Indian film actor, a game show host, a mobile game character and an active PETA campaigner. He started to act in Hindi television serials and appear in advertisments and commercials before he started his film acting career. He currently acts in regional industries across India with the Tamil film industry being his main focus, other optional focuses being Bollywood and the Bengali film industry. Madhavan is fondly known by his fans as the Chocolate Hero. Madhavan’s parents are Ranganathan and Saroja and he has a sister named Devika. Madhavan’s father, Ranganathan is an ex-army man who was jailed wrongly in his youth. Saroja Ranganathan is a housewife. He also has a younger sibling: a sister, Devika, who is an aspiring model and actress. Madhavan is married to Sarita Krishnan, a former airhostess whom he married after three years of courtship. They have a son Vedaant who was born in 2006. Madhavan has also recently moved property in Chennai from his rented house in Kilpauk, to a picturesque house near the boat club area of Chennai. Madhavan shares great rapport with several experienced actors in the industry especially Mani Ratnam and Kamal Haasan whom both have worked with him in several projects each.Madhavan is also well known for his vegetarian ways and has advertised several brands.

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