Wednesday, June 08, 2011

“The nightmare is over”

Says Nischal Chandra about his divorce from actress Kavya Madhavan

By Shevlin Sebastian

It was 5 p.m. on May 29 when Nischal Chandra emerged from the family court in Kochi after his marriage to actress Kavya Madhavan was annulled. Some people shook his hand and said, “Congratulations, we are really happy to know that you are a free man.” For Nischal it was a rare moment of happiness. “A few people have finally understood that there is another side to the story of what happened between me and Kavya,” he says.

Ever since Kavya returned from Kuwait, in June, 2009, after barely staying for three months with Nischal, citing spousal abuse, it has been a trial by media for Nischal. “All sorts of lies and distortions have been said,” he says. One example: repeatedly, it was stated that Nischal was uneducated.

“I was really surprised by this,” he says. In fact, Nischal has two master's degrees: one in telecommunication engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, and the other in management science from Stanford University, California.

Nischal has worked in top investment firms like Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan, and Merrill Lynch in New York. “For the last six years, I have been the Technology Adviser of a leading bank in Kuwait,” he says.

When this erroneous information was being published and broadcast, there were few journalists who were willing to listen to Nischal's version. “As far as I know, there were no clarifications,” he says. “Even today, people suspect that I am jobless and lack educational qualifications.”

He says the visual media has a stake in the entertainment industry, so it was tough for them to take a stance opposing Kavya. “Because I am a non-celebrity, they were not interested in me,” he says.

Nischal says he is unable to talk about why the marriage broke down because of a legal agreement with his former spouse. “But I can tell you about the impact of Section 498 A, the domestic violence act,” he says. Kavya had filed a case under this act, whereupon a husband can be arrested, without a warrant, and put into jail.

The law goes like this: 'Whoever, being the husband or the relative of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall be liable to a fine. The offence is cognizable, non-compoundable and non-bailable.'

Nischal was ready for a long drawn-out court battle with Kavya, but his lawyer said that under Section 498A, the entire family could be charged, including his elderly parents, and would consume a lot of time. So he opted for a mutual compromise.

He admits that his family, which includes an elder brother, his wife and child, went through a harrowing time. “It was a nightmare,” he says. “Thank God it is over.” But there was a final sting.

A day after the divorce came through a vernacular newspaper reported that Nischal had refused to return gold jewellery worth Rs 97 lakh. Through his lawyer, Nischal had to issue yet another clarification stating that no dowry or gold jewellery had been taken from Kavya. Thankfully, the newspaper published a retraction.

As to the lesson he has learned from this bitter experience, Nischal says, “Family is the most important institution for a man. When members come together and support you at a most crucial time, you don't need anything more. This experience has made us stronger and more loving towards each other.”

(The New Indian Express, Kerala)

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