COLUMN: Spouse's Turn
Film director Boban Samuel talks about life with the actor Reshmi
By Shevlin Sebastian
Photo by Mithun Vinod
One night, in 2007, film director Boban Samuel went to the terrace of his house in Thiruvananthapuram. He was accompanied by his wife, Reshmi, and their two small boys. He was feeling low. His career was going nowhere. Boban looked up at the sky and saw that it was cloudy. “My life has become like the sky,” he told Reshmi. “I have no work. I don't know what to do.”
Reshmi said, “Everything will become all right.”
Suddenly, in between the clouds, a small star appeared.
Reshmi saw it and said, “There is one star. So there is hope that something will happen.”
Boban nodded. Suddenly, his mobile started ringing. He looked at it: it was an Ernakulam number. He did not want to take it. Reshmi urged him to do so.
So Boban took it. The call was from a production controller of television serials. He said that Chavara Advertising wanted to do a serial on a Christian theme and would Boban come to Kochi the next day to meet the producers, Sibi Chavara and George.
Boban was not interested in doing religious serials. But Reshmi prodded him to go. At Kochi, Sibi told him that it would be on the life of Sr. Alphonsa, who was made a Saint on October 12, 2008, by Pope Benedict XVI.
Boban said that he had no idea about the life of this nun. So they gave him a book -- ‘Snehabaly’ by Father Romulus. On the train back, he read the book and realised there were incidents in the nun’s life which could be made into a serial.
When the serial was telecast -- 101 episodes of one hour each -- it became a hit. “Because, at this time, Sr. Alphonsa was declared a saint,” says Boban. “So the timing was perfect.”
Soon, the actress Reena offered him a film. Boban met the actor Jayasurya. Thankfully, the actor's wife, Saritha, was a fan of the Alphonsa serial. So, Jayasurya agreed to act in Boban's first film, ‘Janapriyan’. The film was well received and Boban's career took a different turn.
“The sighting of the star, such an accidental event, was the turning point in my life,” he says.
Meeting Reshmi was also an accident. In 1999, Boban was working as an associate director for a TV serial, ‘Peythozhiyathe’, in Thiruvananthapuram. They needed two fresh faces. “So we got a lot of photographs from all over,” says Boban. “Among the lot, there was one of Reshmi, who was working as an anchor in Surya TV. I looked at the photo and felt that it did not suit the character and said so.”
However, after a few episodes, the director KK Rajeev introduced a new female character. “This time, we selected Reshmi,” says Boban. And when they met, there was an immediate attraction between the two.
It was during this time that Boban was looking to get married. In two months, he proposed to Reshmi. But there were family objections from her parents. While Boban is a Christian, Reshmi is a Hindu (Nambiar). But Reshmi stood firm. And finally her parents accepted her decision graciously.
The marriage took place at Thiruvananthapuram on January 29, 2001. Soon, after the wedding, they went to the cemetery where Boban’s father was buried. He had died when Boban was 14. “It was the first time that Reshmi was going to a cemetery,” says Boban. “Later she told me that she felt that she was getting some blessings from my father.”
Today, the couple presents a happy image at their 12th floor apartment in Kochi. They sit on adjoining sofas, smile often at each other, and finish each other's sentences.
Asked to list the plus points of Reshmi, Boban says, “She had come into my life before I became a film director. So she saw my struggles. Reshmi was supportive in those difficult times and she is supportive now. I am grateful for that.”
Reshmi is a good mother to Nidheesh, 13, and Akash 9. “She ensures that they do their studies well and provides good food for them,” says Boban. “I am not very good at being a parent. I get immersed in my work and become distracted.”
Reshmi is also a good cook. “At the time of our marriage, she did not know cooking at all,” says Boban. “She made a chutney, of onion and tomato, and as soon as I had it, I spat it out. The mistake was that she had not added tamarind. But today she is a No. 1 cook. And I like her fish curry the best.”
When the family has free time they go out to eat at restaurants and see films at multiplexes. And, increasingly, Boban is being recognised.
“Sometimes, people come up and talk about my films,” he says. “Many have said that they liked ‘Janapriyan’ the most even though ‘Romans’ was the hit film. Some will ask for a role. Others will say that they have written a script and ask whether I would like to read it. It is rare for a man behind the camera to be recognised in public. So it is a big morale-booster for me.”
As for tips for a successful marriage, Boban says, “Think of this: brothers and sisters are all so different from each other. Then imagine a person who comes from another family. How different he or she will be. So, to get along well, spouses have to learn to adjust to each other. There should not be ego tussles. When there are fights, you should come to a compromise quickly.”
(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)