COLUMN: Spouse's Turn
Latha talks about life with noted film director T.K. Rajeev Kumar
By Shevlin Sebastian
In August, 1995, Latha Kurian met film director T.K. Rajeev Kumar at the eastern gate of the Thiruvananthapuram Museum. She was making a one-minute film for the NGO, 'Zoo Watch'. Latha's friend, Diljit Thomas, a cinematographer in Malayalam films, suggested that Rajeev would be the best person to conceptualise and help with the shoot.
“There was an instant attraction,” says Latha. “I remember Rajeev was wearing a blue-grey shirt, which was three times his size. It also had small white ikkat (weed) designs.”
They worked closely for a week and then Rajeev had to leave for the Gulf to do a stage show called 'Mohanlal and the Magic Lamp'. “We went out of touch,” says Latha.
The second meeting, an accidental one, took place during the International Short Film and Video Festival. “I was going into Kala Bhavan theatre and he was coming out,” she says. “We stopped and talked. Thereafter, we saw the rest of the festival together.”
In November, they were having lunch at the Hotel Horizon. Rajeev said, “Look Latha, I have to ask you a question. If I don't, I will regret it for the rest of my life.”
Latha said, “Please go ahead.”
Rajeev paused, and said, “Will you marry me?”
Latha was overwhelmed and asked for some time. “By the evening, I said yes,” she says. “I knew it would not be easy since he is a Nair and I am a Christian.”
Nevertheless, they tied the knot on June 23, 1996, eight months after the proposal. “Rajeev wanted to get married immediately, but I had a lot of things, on the personal front, to clear up,” says Latha.
Asked about Rajeev's plus points, Latha says, “He knows who I am and what I can do, and what I have been doing. I am not a great and wonderful person. In fact, I am terribly flawed. But, through it all, he loves me. I don't know of any married woman who has the freedom that I have. I can go anywhere, do anything, and hang out with anybody.”
In fact, a few years ago, Latha travelled to Europe, on a three-week solo trip to Barcelona, Paris and London. “He trusts me 100 per cent,” says Latha. And during that period it was Rajeev who looked after the children: Mrinal, 14, and Keerthana, 12.
And Latha loves her husband's generosity. One day, she was having lunch with him and a friend. Latha told him that she had seen an interesting phone, the expensive Samsung S-3. After the meal, Latha dropped her husband off at a meeting and went off to the La Gallery360 at Nanthencode, which she runs. In the evening, when Rajeev returned home, he gave her a small paper bag which contained the S3. “He just blew me away,” she says. “These are some of the extraordinary things he does for me.”
Another extraordinary incident which she will never forget was when she was returning from Shantiniketan in West Bengal, where she was doing her doctoral research on art history. They had a tiff on the phone and Latha, who had to get down at Ernakulam, to meet Rajeev, decided to carry on to Thiruvananthapuram. A desperate Rajeev could not locate her. So he ran to the engine driver, paid some money and told him to wait, till he spotted Latha. And it was only after that the train left the station.
As for negative points, Latha says, “It is difficult to be married to a man whose first love is films. In a marriage, you demand the other person's time and attention. But he can't, because he is so busy. I have tremendous empathy for his work, but at the same time I am a woman and a wife who craves his attention and time. When he is free I get all this, but this is very rare. Of course, I can easily call him up and say, 'Rajeev, I am going to faint and die.' And he will drop everything and come to me.” Latha bursts out laughing when she says this.
Another drawback is that he is reticent. “In a party he might not speak to anybody,” says Latha. “But in the right company he can talk non-stop.”
Asked for advice to give youngsters who are about to get married, Latha says, “You should not try and mould each other. Never break each other's wings. You have to accept the other person with his good and bad faults.”
And she continues: “In a marriage, we think that a moment or a week or a month is a lifetime. But it is not. If you have an issue with your spouse and it seems to be unsolvable, if you hold your breath and give each other the space to think, I am sure even the biggest problem can be resolved, and you can come back together, provided you have a soul connection.”
About TK Rajeev Kumar
TK Rajeev Kumar has made 20 films. Among them, he won the Filmfare Best Director Award for ‘Chanakyan’. His film, ‘Jalamamaram’ won the National Award for Best Feature on the Environment, while ‘Sesham’ won the Kerala State Best Feature Film Award. His latest movie is ‘Up and Down… Mukalil Oralundu’, which his wife Latha Rajeev is producing under their banner, ‘A Blue Mermaid Picture Company’. Rajeev has served as the Chairman of the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, from 2003 to 2006, and was the Director for the International Film Festival of Kerala, from 2003 to 2006. He also served as Jury Chairman for the Kerala State Film Awards, 2007.
(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)