Madhavan was a popular face in Indian television even before he made his film debut. He acted in Hindi television serials like Saaya, Sea Hawks, Banegi Apni Baat and Ghar Jamai. His debut in movies came in the form of Shanti Shanti Shanti, a Kannada movie.
He got his first big break when Mani Ratnam introduced Madhavan to Kollywood through his film Alaipayuthey (2000). Thereafter he has acted in successful Tamil movies like Kannathil Muthamittal, Ayutha Ezhuthu, A Peck on th Cheek (each directed by Mani Ratnam), Minnale, Run, Anbe Sivam and Parthale Paravasam. Madhavan made his Bollywood debut with Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein, the remake of Minnale.
Madhavan will next be seen starring in Guru, another Mani Ratnam directed film.