Tuesday, January 24, 2012

'I am happy to be with him'

COLUMN: Spouse's Turn

Gayatri talks about her marriage to the diminutive actor, Unda Pakru

By Shevlin Sebastian

Gayatri will never forget the incident after her marriage to Unda Pakru at the Kumaranalloor Devi Temple at Kottayam on March 8, 2006. The couple proceeded to the banks of the Meenachil River. Unda Pakru has a house at one side. The videographer suggested that the newly-married couple get on the boat, so that he can take a few images. The boat was pushed towards the centre, but suddenly the long rope holding it to a wooden barricade, on the bank, snapped.

The boat began to flow downstream. “I felt terrified,” says Gayatri. “It was the first time in my life that I had got on to a boat.” Her husband asked her whether she knew how to swim. Gayatri shook her head.

Pakru said, “Don't move. In case I cannot guide the boat to the other bank, it will float, and we will reach somewhere.”

So, while the 5'2” woman stayed immobile, the 2'6” Pakru took proactive action. He leaned over the side of the boat and began using his hands like a paddle.

Meanwhile, there were panicky shouts and screams among the family members, relatives, and guests. While all this commotion was going on, Pakru kept calm and guided the boat to the other bank. And they got off safely.

Earlier, when the marriage proposal first came, Gayatri agreed immediately. “I really don't know why I said yes,” she says. “But I liked him from the very beginning.” Not surprisingly, her parents and her younger sister were opposed. “They told me that there would be difficulties because of his lack of height,” says Gayatri. “I said I had no problems that Ajayan (Unda Pakru) was not tall.”

When Pakru came to see Gayatri, it did not take him long to win over his in-laws. “My parents and sister warmed to him immediately,” says Gayatri. “He has that quality about him. In fact, today, they like him more than me.”

So, after five and a half years of marriage, what does she like about the diminutive actor? “Ajayan has his own individuality,” says Gayatri. “Before he makes a decision, he thinks about it very hard. But once he decides, it is impossible to make him change his mind. He is very strong mentally. I admire that quality the most in him. He has come so far only because of his strong will.”

For those who don't know, Unda Pakru has acted in 50 films. In 'My Big Father', he was the hero, co-starring with Jayaram. Amazingly, he did all the stunts, like horse riding,
on his own. Pakru is also listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the 'shortest actor who played a full-length character role in a feature film'.

So, what about his negative traits? “Ajayan gets angry quickly, but immediately, he calms down,” says Gayatri. “With him, if you ask anything in anger, he will not agree to it. You have to ask in a nice way.”

Sometimes, when he is writing a script for a programme, there is a distant look on his face. “Whatever I say to him, he does not listen,” says Gayatri. “I realize that Ajayan is in a different world. So I stay away. This might last for a few hours and then he is back to normal.”

So, do the public react differently when they see them at a function? “People have behaved wonderfully with us,” says Gayatri. “They shower us with a lot of affection. They will never ask him or me about why we got married. They ask me about who is there to assist me in the house, and where do I stay? We live an ordinary life, just like any other couple.”

The couple have a three-year-old daughter, Deepthakeerthi. “She is too young to know that Ajayan is her father, although she does call him 'Accha',” says Gayatri. “She loves to play with him. Deepthakeerthi feels that when I discipline her, Ajayan is the only one who will support and protect her. He never scolds her, so she is very happy with him. Sometimes, she will call him the way I do: Ajayettan.”

Finally, when asked whether Pakru's height is an impediment, Gayatri says, “There are no difficulties just because he is short. He is as normal as everybody else. Ajayan does everything on his own, be it going to the cinema set or coming for lunch at the dining room table. I am happy to be with him.”

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

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