Tuesday, June 18, 2013

'She Has no Airs'

COLUMN: Spouse's Turn 

Santhosh Menon talks about life with actress Navya Nair

By Shevlin Sebastian

When Santhosh Menon received the marriage proposal of film star, Navya Nair, he was hesitant. “I had the impression that film stars had a lot of 'head weight',” he says. Nevertheless, out of a mix of curiosity and interest, he decided to see Navya. The meeting took place in March, 2009, at Navya's house in Muthukulam, near Haripad. “She was a normal girl,” says Santhosh. “There were no airs about her.”

They had a 'getting to know each other' conversation. “Navya was worried about my busy life,” says Santhosh. At that time he was working as a CEO in a Mumbai-based multinational firm, dealing with spices, and travelled a lot. In fact, Santhosh has been to 54 countries during the course of his work.

Santhosh also asked Navya about her priorities. “I knew it would be difficult to have a film career as well as a family life,” he says. But, to his relief, Navya told him that her priority was to have a happy family.

Santhosh enjoyed talking with Navya. That evening when he returned home to Changanacherry, he asked his driver, Binesh, to collect all the CDs about Navya in the market. The next morning, he flew back to Mumbai and watched all the films.

I liked her the best in 'Nandanam',” he says. “Mostly, she seemed to play homely characters. Her combination with Dileep in 'Ishtham' was good. She told me later that she rarely worried about the remuneration, but more about the type of role she had to play.”

Eventually, Santhosh said yes and the marriage took place on January 21, 2010, at the Christ King High School ground at Cheppad. More than 5000 people were present, including superstars Mammooty and Mohanlal, as well as Kavya Madhavan and Bhavana, and the who's who of the political establishment.

Thereafter, for their honeymoon, they flew to Dubai. While there, they went to the Global Village, which is regarded as one of the world's largest tourism, leisure and entertainment festivals. The Malayalis present there mobbed Navya. People were constantly taking photos on their mobiles. “My driver and friends had a tough time protecting us,” says Santhosh. “This was the first time I got an indication of Navya's star status.”

A few days later, they settled down in Mumbai. And Santhosh smiles as he remembers Navya's initial attempts at cooking. “Every morning, she would call her aunt, Sudha, who lives in Muthukulam, and would ask her what to make,” says Santhosh. “This talk would go on throughout the day.”

But the end result is that, today, Navya has become a good cook. “She makes a very good chicken curry as well as other non-vegetarian dishes,” says Santhosh. “Earlier, when guests would come, we would go out for dinner, but, now, thanks to Navya's skills, we are eating at home.”

Santhosh also encouraged Navya to try her hand on TV, because it is less time-consuming than a film shoot. “A month's programme can be shot in three days,” says Santhosh. Navya has been the judge of ‘Munch Dance Dance’, and is the anchor of ‘Bharthakkanmarude Sradakku’ which is shown on a private TV channel.

And her film career has not been ruled out entirely. “I told Navya that once in a while she will be able to act, because she has a dream to win a national award for acting,” says Santhosh. After her marriage, Navya has acted in one film: 'Scene Onnu Nammude Veedu', directed by Shiju Anthikad.

Santhosh is also encouraging her to develop her other talents. In their plush apartment at the exclusive Palm Beach Road in Navi Mumbai, Navya has just finished writing a book. “It is about her experiences in the film industry,” says Santhosh. “The book will be published in July.”

As her life moves forward, Navya is slowly changing. “Her friends tell me that, thanks to me, Navya has become softer, and more realistic and practical,” says Santhosh. “Earlier, she was tough.”

About her negative points, Santhosh says, “When she gets angry with somebody she will not talk to that person again. Sometimes, she tries to speak against them. I always tell Navya that because of certain circumstances they might have said something negative. It does not mean that they are against her for the entire life.”

Thanks to Navya's encouragement, Santhosh started a business in exporting spices and it has been doing well. “I give all my thanks to the Almighty,” says Santhosh. “He also gave me a child.” The couple have a two-and-a-half-year-old son named Sai Krishna.

Asked to give tips for a successful marriage, Santhosh says, “Stay cool and try to understand each other. All married couples fight with each other, but you should aim to solve your problems. If an argument gets too intense, go away for an hour, and come back when things have cooled down.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

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