COLUMN: Spouse's Turn
Linta talks about life with her film director-husband Jeethu Joseph
Photo of Linta by Mithun Vinod
By Shevlin Sebastian
One day, in 2000, film director Jeethu Joseph and his wife Linta went to visit a cousin of Jeethu's, Geeta Joy, in Thiruvananthapuram. On a table in the living room there was a brochure of a film, 'Karunam', directed by Jayaraj. “When I saw the brochure, I asked Geeta how she had got it, since she has no links with the film industry,” says Linta. Geeta told her that they have a house in Thrissur, which Jayaraj had taken on rent.
Linta told Geeta that her husband was keen to join films. So, Geeta arranged for the introductions. “At their initial meeting, Jayaraj Sir asked whether we had any other means of income and Jeethu said he had,” says Linta. “That was the only way to survive, since it is a field where you don't get success immediately.”
Jeethu began working with Jayaraj as an assistant. At that time, Jayaraj was working on a Hindi film, 'Beebatsa' which starred Atul Kulkarni and Seema Biswas. Jeethu also worked on 'Thilakkam', (2003). During this time, Jeethu wrote his first script, and a producer, Mahe, agreed to make the film. Called 'Detective', it was released in 2007, with Suresh Gopi playing a double role. Jeethu also made 'Mummy and Me' (2010), which did well, as well as the recent hit, 'My Boss'.
Responding to the charges that 'My Boss' is a lift from the Hollywood movie, 'The Proposal', Linta says, “The initial inspiration may have come from that film, but it is not a frame-to-frame copy. Jeethu has put in a lot of effort in the script. The characterisation and the cultural scenarios are completely different. Basically, you can get inspired from anywhere.”
Incidentally, it took some time for Linta to be inspired by Jeethu. In 1994, Jeethu saw Linta at the St. Sebastian's church in their home town of Elanji, and was smitten. During Linta's final-year English literature course at the Dev Matha College in Kuravilangad, Jeethu proposed to her. “I told him it is an infatuation,” says Linta. “But he said it was much more than that. Apparently, he had pointed me out to his parents and sister Mini. I said, 'Let me finish my studies. Please do not talk or try to speak to me on the phone.'”
But Jeethu got permission from Linta's parents to talk to her on the phone. They agreed because Jeethu was the son of VV Joseph, who was the MLA from Muvattupuzha, and the Josephs were a prominent family of the area. “Jeethu would talk about films and told me he wanted to be a director,” says Linta. “I asked whether he could find another profession, since I knew the risks of a career in the film industry.”
Anyway, the couple tied the knot on June 1, 1996. And Jeethu became a businessman and set up a shopping complex in Elanji. “But as time went on, I realised that in his heart of hearts he always wanted to be a director,” she says. And, thankfully, fate played a role in fulfilling Jeethu's dreams.
As the couple is basking in the success of 'My Boss', Linta says her husband consults her frequently, when he is working on a script. “The moment he gets the thread of an idea, he will tell me,” says Linta. “When he writes one page of dialogue, he will read out to me. Then he will ask me how he should move forward. Jeethu is always asking for suggestions, but it is not necessary that he will follow what I say.”
In fact, because she came to know the characters of ‘My Boss’ so well, Linta helped in selecting the costumes. “Jeethu encouraged me to be a costume designer,” she says. “For [actress] Mamta's western-style dresses, I got the trousers, a Diana suit, formal shirts, and even a swimsuit from the malls in Bangalore. The rest we got from Ernakulam.”
It has been an exciting partnership with Jeethu, but there are ups and down. “He has a lot of positive energy,” she says. “On the other hand, I have a tendency to look at life in a negative way. His one drawback is that he gets angry very fast. But within minutes he cools down and asks for forgiveness. But I find it difficult to forget what Jeethu tells me when he is angry.”
And there are practical difficulties also. She has to oversee the children's education [daughters Catherine, 15, and Katina 11], pay the household bills, and do all the banking work. Nevertheless, it is a close and intense partnership, and, as Linta says, with a smile, “At the end of the day, Jeethu is 'My Boss' and I like that.”
(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)