COLUMN: Spouse's Turn
Divya talks about her life with singer Madhu Balakrishnan
Photo by Mithun Vinod
By Shevlin Sebastian
Divya met singer Madhu Balakrishnan for the first time at her family tharavad in Kothamangalam. At that time, there was a marriage-fixing ceremony between Vinoy, Divya's first cousin, and Mini, Madhu's first cousin. “He was wearing a saffron kurta and jeans,” says Divya. A music aficionado, she already admired him as a singer.
“My brother [cricketer] Sreesanth is also a great fan of his,” she says. Madhu and Sreesanth bonded and became close friends. The singer would take the cricket star to the Maharaja’s College practice ground in Kochi and bring him back.
At that time, Madhu had a song programme, ‘Raga Tharangam’ on Surya TV, which was aired every Saturday. After the programme, Sreesanth would call up Madhu and compliment him. Sometimes, Divya would come on the line. “I had a tendency to point out mistakes,” she says. “Madhu would tell me that people usually praised him.”
During her final-year degree in chemistry at Sacred Heart College, Thevara, she had got the papers ready to do her masters at Kansas University, USA. It was then that Madhu told Nivedita, Divya’s elder sister, who was a singer, that he liked Divya and wanted to marry her. “I also had feelings,” she says. “But my parents were upset because they wanted me to do further studies.”
Anyway, there was a mutual agreement between the families and the wedding took place on September 10, 2001. Asked about Madhu's qualities, Divya says, “He does not get tense. Madhu is not one to be overjoyed, nor does he feel too sad. He is a steady person. I feel a lot of tension, regarding my children, but Madhu always tells me to relax.”
Divya also admires his dedication to singing. “Madhu’s father died when he was in Class 9,” she says. “So, he had to struggle a lot. Today, he is a self-made man.” The couple lives, with their sons, Madhav, 9, and Mahadev, 3, in a large bungalow, with a lot of woodwork, in Thripunithara. There are a couple of cars in the courtyard.
Both are religious-minded, and go often to pray, with their families, at the Chottanikkara Bhagawathy Amma temple. “Madhu loves my family as his own,” says Divya.
Madhu also swiftly jumps to the aid of people who are being harassed. On a recent afternoon, Madhu and Divya had just set out from their house in their Toyota Innova vehicle. On the main road, Madhu happened to look into the rear-view mirror. And he saw an astonishing sight. A boy and a girl, both students of the nearby Government Arts College were walking along the sidewalk. Suddenly, the boy slapped the girl. Madhu reversed the vehicle, till he reached the pair, and asked the boy why he had acted like that.
The boy was taken aback, and said, “We are friends. She did not put her dupatta properly and that was why I hit her.”
Madhu said, “Never do that. You have no right to slap her.”
Regarding his drawbacks, Divya says, “Madhu gets angry quickly. Sometimes, he gets upset over the smallest of things. On the other hand, I rarely lose my temper. When I get upset I keep quiet.”
Another drawback is that Madhu is unable to understand the hidden motives of people. “There have been a few times when those, whom he has trusted, have let him down,” says Divya. “Madhu has suffered financial losses because of that.”
Still, she is deeply in love and gets a thrill to see Madhu perform on stage. “I feel lucky that he is my husband,” she says. Her favourite song of Madhu's is 'Chentharmizhi' from the film, 'Perumazhakaalam.' “I never get tired of listening to it,” she says.
Asked for tips to have a successful marriage, Divya says, “In earlier times, when a product went bad, we would try to repair and reuse it. But, nowadays, people throw it away and buy a new one. That is not right. Similarly, if there is a defect in people we must accept and learn to live with it.”
She remembers what her father told her once. “It takes two hands to make a noise,” she says. “So, when your husband gets angry, if you keep quiet, there will be fewer problems. And it can be vice-versa also.”
About Madhu Balakrishnan
Madhu became famous when he sang 'Amme Amme' from the film, 'Vaalkannadi' in 2002. This enabled him to win a Kerala Government State Award. So far, he has sung 300 songs in Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu. He has also sung more than 10,000 devotional and non-film songs. In 2010, he set up the S-36 band, which is helmed by his brother-in-law, the cricketer S. Sreesanth. Madhu has performed in concerts in USA, Canada, the UK, the Middle East and Singapore.
(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)