Thursday, May 02, 2013

The Celluloid Star

COLUMN: Spouse's Turn
Sabura talks about life with film director Kamal

Photo by Mithun Vinod

By Shevlin Sebastian

One of Sabura’s enduring memories of her first cousin, Kamal, was when they both went, along with family members, to see the film, ‘Nellu’ in the Ragam Theatre in Thrissur, just after she finished her Class 10 exams. “From a young age, Kamal wanted to be a director,” says Sabura.

When Sabura was studying for her BA course in Vimala College at Thirssur in 1980, she received the proposal of marriage from Kamal. “My father found Kamal to be a good and loving boy,” says Sabura. “So he said yes. I also liked him. In those times, it was common to marry first cousins.”

They got married on November 29, 1981, at a hall in Kodungaloor. For their honeymoon, the couple went to Kanyakumari. “I remember we would take long walks on the beach and have ice-creams. And Kamal would tell me about his dreams of being a director,” says Sabura. “I had no doubts he would make it. He was talented and obsessed with the desire to make a mark.”

A week into her marriage, Sabura had to join work as a teacher at Ponnani. She did so but began missing Kamal at once. “There were no mobile or easily accessible land phones,” she says. In desperation, she met the principal and asked for a day’s leave. He gave permission. “Immediately, I sent a telegram to Kamal stating that I am coming,” says Sabura. “When Kamal saw me he was shocked as well as thrilled. And we had a big laugh when the telegram arrived only after I had

Asked about her husband’s plus points, Sabura says, “Kamal is sincere in his work and relationships. He is dedicated to his art. He spent one-and-a half years on the film, ‘Celluloid’, dong the research,
writing the script and getting everything right.”

Not surprisingly, the film became a hit. “When a film does well, my husband becomes ecstatic,” says Sabura. “He will hug me and the children, my son and daughter, with a great joy on his face.”

Therefore, for this intense person, when a film is labeled a flop, he becomes moody and silent. “Kamal will brood over what went wrong,” says Sabura. “I tell him this happens in every filmmaker’s career and try to cheer him up.”

But there is an underlying strain on Kamal these days because of the changing audience. “It is predominantly young,” says Sabura. “Their tastes are unusual. The young directors are providing something different to what Kamal is offering. He has a fear that he will not be able to communicate with this youthful crowd.”

Clearly, being the wife of a creative person is not easy. One drawback for Sabura is that Kamal is absent for a long time when shooting is going on. “Once work begins, he forgets all of us,” she says. “It does not upset me, on the rational level, because I know that a director needs this focus if he wants to make a good film. But, at the same time, on the emotional level, and as a wife and mother, I do get upset when he is not around.  Sometimes, when the children need him, he is absent.”

Sabura has to manage the house, look after the kids and handle her career responsibilities. She is the head of the department of English in the MES Asmabi College at Kodungaloor. “I do feel the pressure,”
she says. “And there are times when I am unable to share it with Kamal.”

However, the sharing happens when Kamal is between films. On a day when Kamal is not shooting, he will get up at 7 a.m., at their home in Kodungaloor, have a cup of tea and read the newspaper.  “During the day, he writes his columns for magazines and reads a lot,” says Sabura. “He likes fiction as well as non-fiction. The last book he read was MP Verendra Kumar’s ‘Hymavatha bhoovil’.”

Lunch is a simple meal of rice, fish and vegetables, which the servant lays out on the table. Sabura returns from college at 3.45 p.m. Then they have tea together. “Sometimes we will go out to visit relatives or have a chat with the children,” she says. After dinner the habit is to watch films on the home theatre. “Kamal has a good collection of world classics,” says Sabura.  “We usually watch till 12.30 a.m. However, there are occasions when I go off to sleep earlier, since I have to go to college the next day.”

Like all marriages, there are ups and downs, but there is no denying the love Kamal and Sabura have for each other, which can be easily seen in their interaction at their apartment in Edapally, Kochi.

Asked for tips for an enduring marriage, Sabura says, “Adjustment, mutual love and dedication are needed to make a relationship successful.”

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

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