Tuesday, January 10, 2012

'It is fun to live with Shyam'

COLUMN: Spouse’s Turn

Sheeba talks about life with Shyamaprasad Rajagopal, the noted film director

By Shevlin Sebastian

When Sheeba saw Shyamaprasad for the first time in January, 1985, she fell in love with him. “He had an attractive personality,” she says. “Shyam dressed well also.” At that time, Sheeba was auditioning for an announcer's post in Doordarshan at Thiruvananthapuram, while Shyam was working as an assistant producer. Sheeba got selected and, soon, she began to look out for Shyam whenever she was in the office.

It was in April that Shyam came up to her to have a chat because Sheeba was also doubling up as a production assistant. “He asked me my name and where I stayed,” says Sheeba. “I asked the same questions. Then we started saying hello whenever we saw each other.”

One day, Shyam telephoned Sheeba at her home. “I got very excited,” she says. “I did not ask him how he got my telephone number. I felt that, maybe, he could be interested in me.”

In the meantime, Sheeba's friend, Radhika, told her that Shyam was keen about her. But Sheeba felt unsure. “I was finding it difficult to believe that, of all the beautiful girls at Doordarshan, Shyam wanted to marry me,” she says. “But later, a producer, John Samuel, came and told me the same thing. So I was finally convinced. It was one of the highlights of my life.”

Now, Sheeba had to break the news to her father. “I was scared whether my father would get angry,” she says. “One day, I took my dad to the terrace and told him that I am in love with somebody and wanted to marry him. But I said I would only accept if his parents agreed to the proposal.” Subsequently, Shyam's parents -- his father is the BJP leader, O. Rajagopal and his mother, Shanta -- paid a visit.

And on May 28, 1987, Shyam and Sheeba tied the knot. Sheeba sighs and says, “It is unbelievable, but in a few months we will be celebrating our silver jubilee,” she says. The couple has two children, Vishnu, 23, and Shivakami, 14.

So, what type of a husband is Shyam? “He rarely gets angry,” she says. “He is very loving. Whenever he goes away from home, he will always call me, even when he is in a foreign country.”

Sheeba admits that of the two, she has the hot temper. “Shyam is always calm, steady and laid-back,” she says.

In fact, he has been laid-back as a parent also. “In my childhood, when we light the lamp in the evening, we would immediately start studying,” says Sheeba. “But Shyam has not followed these rules. He was never strict with the children. Shyam would tell them, 'If you want to do well, you will have to study.' I feel that at times, you have to be firm. But when it comes to my son, it turned out to be the right decision. Vishnu is doing something that he likes. After completing a course in film studies, he is working in a firm in Mumbai which makes advertising films.”

As an award-winning director of films like 'Akale' and 'Ore Kadal', Shyam is noted for his creativity. So how difficult is it to live with such a person? “When he is making a film, he becomes a person whom I cannot recognise,” says Sheeba. “Shyam goes into a world of his own. His mental preparation before shooting begins is intense and concentrated. He rarely listens to us. Earlier, I would feel irritated. But now I have got used to it. I understand that this is the creative process before shooting begins.”

And there are many tense moments. Sometimes, there are problems with dates or finding the right locations. “It is a stressful time for him,” says Sheeba. “When he gets disturbed, I tend to keep away from him. In case I am around, I try to soothe him. After so many years of marriage, I know at which moments to intervene or stay away.”

But for Sheeba, the best time is when they go for a morning walk. “That is the time I have him to myself,” she says. “And he is such a good listener. I talk about my job [in the State Bank of Travancore], about our children and life in general. It is fun to live with Shyam.”

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

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