COLUMN: Spouse's Turn
Paris Laxmi talks about life with the Kathakali dancer Pallippuram Sunil
Photo of Laxmi by Albin Mathew
By Shevlin Sebastian
Paris Laxmi was only seven years old when she saw Kathakali dancer Pallippuram Sunil perform at a theatre in Fort Kochi. She had come with her parents, Yves, a stage artist and poet, mother Patricia, a sculptor, and brother Theo Narayan from Aix-En-Provence in France. “I was amazed by Sunil’s dancing,” she says. “When we met the artistes, as a family, I liked Sunil the most. He seemed kind and calm. I always remember that performance.”
Laxmi returned to Fort Kochi again with her family when she was 16 years old. “I had a desire to meet Sunil,” she says. And when she did meet him, she felt a great happiness. Every day, she, along with Theo, and her parents would go and watch the performances. But her father was not happy. Laxmi was neglecting her studies for the baccalaureate (Plus Two) exams.
One day, Yves told Laxmi she could not go to the theatre unless she finished her studies. Not surprisingly, she started screaming and crying. Then Laxmi told her mother, “You don't understand what Sunil means to me.”
Patricia said, “You must realise that if he is the person for you, then the time will come. But you must wait for that moment.”
In 2010, when Laxmi again came for a visit, Sunil said, “When are we getting married?” So, it confirmed to Laxmi what she already knew: Sunil also had feelings for her, although he was 14 years older. “But we had a compatibility, because of our passion for the arts,” says Laxmi. The wedding date was fixed for September 14, 2012.
A few months before that day, Laxmi converted to Hinduism through a Vedic puja, conducted by the Arya Samaj, at Vaikom.
On the day of the wedding, held at the Mahadeva Shiva temple at Vaikom, Laxmi wore a bright red saree, with sequins, along with gold jewellery. “From childhood I had always watched Bollywood movies,” she says. “So I had an image of the Hindu bride wearing a red saree.” As for Sunil, he wore the typical Malayali male attire of an off-white shirt and mundu.
At the reception, many Kathakali maestros came up to Laxmi and expressed their appreciation of her dress. “They also said that I looked good in my make-up,” she says. “In fact, I got up early and applied it myself.”
The couple, however, did not go for a honeymoon. “Sunil promised to take me to Munnar and I am still waiting,” says Laxmi, with a smile.
But, sometime later, they went to the Kapaleeshwarar temple in Mylapore, a temple which is close to Laxmi's heart. And there is a reason for that. In 2009, Laxmi went to study at Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam’s ‘Nrithyodaya School of Dance’ in Chennai. “Every now and then I would go and pray at the temple for my marriage to take place,” says Laxmi. “So when I went there with Sunil, to offer our thanks, I felt very happy.”
Meanwhile, when asked her husband's plus points, Laxmi says, “Sunil is very calm. It is rare that he gets angry. He is kind, honest and trust-worthy. My husband understands me very well.”
In fact, on the weekends, Laxmi hardly has any time, because she is busy teaching students at their jointly-run Kalashakti School of Arts at Vaikom.
“On those days, Sunil does the cooking, because I am too tired,” says Laxmi. “When he is tired I will make the food. At home there is a sharing of work. We eat Malayali food, but, sometimes, I make French cakes and tarts, which Sunil likes.”
As for his negative traits, Laxmi says, “Sunil finds it difficult to say no. He is worried about what the other person will think. Another trait is his reticence. He does not talk much. But like every woman, I am keen to know what my husband is thinking. And what are his feelings regarding a particular situation. But after three years of marriage Sunil is learning to express himself.”
In their spare time, the couple love to watch movies, especially Malayalam ones. They usually go to a theatre at the nearby town of Thalayolaparambu. The last movie they saw was the Mammooty starrer, 'Pathemari'. “I understood most of the dialogues,” says Laxmi. "And we both loved [the romantic hit] 'Ennu Ninte Moideen'.
One reason for her keen interest is because Laxmi is acting in Mollywood films. She did a small role in 'Bangalore Days' and will be seen in Rajesh Nair’s 'Salt Mango Tree', in a supporting role. But in Krish Kymal's film, 'Olappeeppi', she will be playing the heroine opposite Biju Menon. “In both I play a foreign woman,” she says.
Finally when asked to give tips for a successful marriage, Laxmi says, “Don't try to please the husband and forget yourself. One day, when you show your real face, he will get a shock. Be genuine at all times. Also, never stop communicating with your spouse, especially if there are problems.”
(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)