Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Two-way Traffic

COLUMN: Spouse's Turn
Mekha talks about life with film director Rajesh Pillai

Photo by Kaviyoor Santosh 

By Shevlin Sebastian

Once in a while, the Thiruvananthapuram-based film director Rajesh Pillai would drop in to see his cousin Swapna Latha at the Nair Service Society College in Haripad. Swapna's close friend, Mekha Manohar, would also be there. The trio would chat a bit. When Rajesh would call Swapna on the phone, sometimes, he would have a brief chat with Mekha also.

On September 6, 2004, Rajesh gave Swapna a call and told her he wanted to marry Mekha. “I did not know what to reply,” says Mekha. “In this situation, it is difficult to give an answer quickly.”

So Mekha asked for a week's time. She had doubts. She was not sure whether it would work out. “Rajesh is well-to-do, while I belong to a middle-class family,” says Mekha. “I was not certain whether I could adjust. I spoke to Swapna about this.”

Subsequently, Rajesh called Mekha and told her not to worry. That calmed Mekha down and she said yes to the marriage. But when she told her parents, Manoharan and Valsala Nair, they asked her to wait, since Mekha's elder sister, Milsa, was yet to get married.

But Rajesh was unwilling to wait for long. For one, his mother had died in 2002 and he was living alone with his father, Dr. K Raman Pillai, 84, a former head of the department of political science at Kerala University. Mekha fell into a dilemma: should she listen to her parents or follow her heart. In the end, she opted for love.

The couple had a registered marriage on June 1, 2005, in the presence of Rajesh's father and their relatives. Mekha did not inform her parents till after the event was over. Not surprisingly, they were upset by her decision and stopped talking to her.

In 2005, Rajesh was going through a difficult period, trying to establish his career as a director. “There was no question of a honeymoon,” says Mekha. Rajesh's film, 'Hridayathil Sookshikkan', had just been released, and did not make an impact. He was having a tough time trying to get a producer for his next film. “He met many of them, but nobody said yes,” says Mekha. “In fact, a few insulted him.”

Rajesh went into a period of depression. “I became worried and unhappy to see my husband in this situation,” says Mekha. “I have to thank scriptwriter Sanjay who befriended Rajesh, gave him self-help books and tried to boost his spirits.” Finally, producer Listin Stephen agreed to make Rajesh's next film, ‘Traffic’.

In the meanwhile, Mekha got a chance to see different facets of Rajesh's character. “He gets close to people quickly,” says Mekha. “But Rajesh also can read them very well. So, he has learnt to stay away from those who could cause problems.”

Mekha also likes his helping tendency. “This is not necessarily confined to friends,” she says. “Rajesh helps strangers also if they come and ask him for help.”

Perhaps the one drawback is that Rajesh can be short-tempered. “And he spends money easily,” says Mekha. “Sometimes, I get worried.”  

Like any creative person, Rajesh has unusual habits. On most nights, at 10 p.m., without fail, he will see films on the DVD, along with Mekha. “We see all types of films – Malayalam, English, Hindi, French and Spanish,” she says. “Sometimes, we see two films one after the other.”

Rajesh also likes to go on late night drives in and around Thiruvananthapuram. “That is the time of privacy for us,” says Mekha. “It is very romantic and we open our hearts to each other.”

Two years went past. Mekha was feeling upset that she had no contact with her parents. So, Rajesh took the initiative and she was reconciled with them, just before Milsa’s marriage to the Dubai-based Tulasidharan.  

For Mekha her happiest moment took place on January 7, 2011. That was the day when Rajesh’s path-breaking film, ‘Traffic’, was released. She watched the second show at a hall in Thiruvananthapuram, along with her father-in-law and other relatives. Rajesh was in Kochi at that time.

The clapping in the hall made me ecstatic,” says Mekha. “I could not watch the film. Instead, I was observing the audience reaction.”

And the most moving event occurred when Rajesh’s father came out of the hall and had tears in his eyes. “For so many years, Rajesh was known as Prof. Raman Pillai’s son,” says Mekha. “After ‘Traffic’, my father-in-law is known as Rajesh’s father.”  

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram) 

No comments:

Post a Comment