Thursday, February 21, 2013

Frame by frame

COLUMN: Spouse's Turn

Deepa Ravindran talks about her life with cinematographer Santosh Sivan

By Shevlin Sebastian

In June, 1993, Deepa Ravindran was walking back home after attending a computer class in Thiruvananthapuram. Suddenly, a family friend, Santosh Ravindran came up on a motorbike, and offered a lift. On the way, Ravindran stopped at a photography studio. There, Deepa met Santosh Sivan, the cinematographer. They started chatting. “I told him I had seen his film 'Perumthachan' and liked it,” says Deepa. Santosh spoke about his career. On the table, there was a photograph of Santosh, his hair looking unkempt.

You look wild,” said Deepa.

I am wild,” said a smiling Santosh.

After a while, Deepa returned home. Later, that evening, Ravindran told the truth to Deepa. It had been an 'arranged meeting' for a marriage. Earlier, both the families had exchanged horoscopes, and it turned out to be suitable. But nobody had informed Deepa because she had specifically told her parents she wanted to work after she completed her master's in housing at the School of Planning, Ahmedabad.

Deepa asked for some time. Then she returned to Ahmedabad, and realised she could not get Santosh out of her mind. Eventually, she said yes. The couple tied the knot on November 8, 1993. And, today, Deepa is a fan of her husband. “Santosh is a wonderful and mature person,” says Deepa. “He has always corrected my petty attitudes. I used to complain about the quality of food all the time. But from day one of our marriage, any food that came in front of him, Santosh will make a positive comment, like 'Fantastic, or 'Excellent', before we eat it.”

But what has been most amazing for Deepa was to encounter Santosh's highly-developed sense of intuition. In their house, at Chennai, there was a chandelier in the living room. The maid would sleep under that. One day, after dinner, at midnight, Santosh was sitting at one corner of the living room. Suddenly, he said, “Deepa, is the chandelier fixed properly?”

Two days earlier, Deepa had called the electrician, who checked all the fans and the lights, including the chandelier. The couple went to sleep. But at 3.30 a.m., the chandelier fell to the floor.

For a few seconds, I stopped breathing,” says Deepa. But thankfully, luck was on Deepa's side. For some reason, the maid slept in another part of the living room.

When asked about his negative qualities, Deepa says, frankly, “Santosh is unpredictable, in his moods. When he is going through the scripting and the creative phase of a film, he can become tense and short-tempered.”

But, most of the time, Santosh is relaxed and spends a lot of time with their five-and-a-half-year-old son, Sarvajith. “Santosh is a loving father and tells our son lots of stories,” she says.

When Santosh is at home, he gets up at the unearthly hour of 4 a.m. Then he will have a cup of black coffee. Thereafter, Santosh will work on the computer or read something. “He does a lot of thinking at this time,” says Deepa. At 5 a.m. he goes for a morning walk.

Following breakfast, he will drop Sarvajith to school. When he returns, Santosh will read, or watch a film, write something or play games on the computer. Or if he has a meeting, he will go for that, or somebody will come to meet him. Sometimes, he does a painting. “It is usually an acrylic on canvas,” says Deepa. “The subjects include birds, animals, and human figures.

After lunch, Santosh will sleep for three hours. “In the evening, he will go out to meet somebody, or read a book,” says Deepa. “He is a voracious reader of fiction as well as non-fiction.” The books Santosh is reading now include 'The Immortals of Meluha' by Amish Tripathi, Vikas Swarup's 'The Accidental Apprentice', and 'The Seven Secrets of Shiva' by Devdutt Pattnaik. “His favourite is ‘Gift in Green’ by Sarah Joseph,” says Deepa.

Meanwhile, asked about the tips for a happy married life, Deepa says, “The difference between earlier marriages and now is a lack of commitment. In those days, as a bread-winner, the husband would take responsibility for the family. The wife would look after the children and bring them up. Our traditional system had a value and I believe in that.”

But Deepa, who works as a freelance for interior projects, is all for women to be financially independent. “But these days everybody is in a hurry,” she says. “There is no time to pause or look back. I feel it is a mistake on the part of girls to think only about their careers. That is why marriages are breaking up. Spouses should learn to show love and compassion to each other.”

About Santosh Sivan

The Thiruvananthapuram-born Santosh Sivan is a well-known cinematographer, director, actor and producer. He has made 45 films and 41 documentaries. He is a founding member of the Indian Society of Cinematographers and is its most decorated Director of Photography. 

Santosh is also the first cinematographer in the Asia-Pacific region to be bestowed with membership of the American Society of Cinematographers. He was awarded the National Award for Best Cinematography for Perumthachan (1991), Kaalapani(1996), Iruvar (1997), and Dil Se. (1998). Overall, he has won 13 national and 21 international awards. 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)


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