Tuesday, November 13, 2012

“Shafi radiates positive energy”

COLUMN: Spouse's Turn 

Shamilia talks about life with her film-director husband

Photo: By Mithun Vinod

By Shevlin Sebastian

A couple of years ago, one of director Shafi's friends, Vijay Raghavan (name changed) committed suicide. The family was shattered, especially the eight-year-old son. He kept quiet for a few weeks, and was sad all the time. In desperation, his mother, Prema, took him to see Shafi’s 'Marykkundoru Kunjaadu', in order to revive his spirit. After the show, Shafi received a call. “My son laughed for the first time,” said Prema. “Thank you very much.”

At her home in Kaloor, Kochi, Shafi's wife, Shamila, says, “I felt so proud of my husband that day. He makes films for the family and to bring back joy to a boy, who had lost his father, was a great feeling for me.”

Shamila met Shafi for the first time when the director's family moved next door, at Ellamakara. After a while, a marriage proposal came. “I had no problems that Shafi was in the film industry,” she says. “Because my own father, MA Majeed, was a music director and worked with PJ Antony [a notable stage actor, director and playwright].”

They tied the knot on December 3, 1998. “I was only 23 when I got married,” she says. “So Shafi, who is seven years older to me, was able to mould me. He taught me not to be over-sensitive all the time. Sometimes, it is necessary to be bold and courageous. He guided me on how to look after the family, and to talk to people.”

But what Shamila likes the most is her husband's positive energy. “If I have a problem, he will explain to me the negative and positive points and try to solve them,” she says.

But it took Shamila some time to adjust to Shafi's unusual life. The moment shooting is over, Shafi comes home and goes straight to his home theatre on the first floor. “He will see three movies, and most of them are in English,” she says. “He goes to sleep at 3 a.m. Sometimes, I sit and watch with him. If there is no shooting he will get up at 10.30 a.m. Then he spends an hour reading the newspapers. Thereafter, after breakfast, he will go back to his room. Then he will come down for lunch and evening tea.”

But Shamila says that creative people are different from others. “They are always in a different world,” she says. “When you talk to them, sometimes, it takes them quite a while to come back to earth and understand what you are saying. But nowadays I can know just by looking at him whether he is deeply thinking about something. Then I will not disturb him.”

But Shafi compensates, at other times. When he is free, he will take his wife and daughters, Aleema, 13, and Salma, 11, for outings and films. And when he is shooting, he will ask his family to spend the weekend at the sets. “For the latest film, '101 Weddings', we have spent time at Kulamaavu,” says Shamila. “We go on Friday evening and return on Sunday night, so that our children's classes are not disturbed.”

Thanks to the uncertainties of the box office, a director's life is full of tension. So what happens when a film does not do well, which, though, is rare for Shafi? “He feels low for a few days,” says Shamila. “The same is the case with me. Then he will say, 'Whatever has happened, has happened. It is time to move forward.'”

And, not surprisingly, when the film is a hit, Shafi is ecstatic. “He will call from the hall during the noon show itself,” says Shamila. “I remember how happy he sounded when he called me, from Kavitha theatre, to say that 'Chocolate' was a hit. If he does not call during the noon show, then I know the film has not done well.”

To ensure that a film does well, Shamila also offers suggestions. Usually, she sees a preview of the films he makes, but without the music being added on. “Sometimes, I am certain the film will be a hit,” she says. “At other times I point out certain weak spots. And he does make some changes. I did feel that 'Venicele Vyaapari', which is set in a different period, might not do well.”

Asked on how to have a marriage that does well, Shamila says, “There should be mutual understanding. Speak honestly about the good and the bad things about each other. Then find a solution for it. It is also better to put your ego aside."

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram) 


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