Tuesday, August 27, 2013

No Ordinary Love Story

COLUMN: Spouse's Turn 

Saritha talks about life with the film director Sugeeth

By Shevlin Sebastian

Saritha Nair was happy. Her engagement to a Dubai-based boy had taken place on May 3, 2003. But the wedding was scheduled to take place a year later when the boy would come on his annual leave. It was at that this moment that her neighbour and childhood friend, P.S. Sugeeth told Saritha that he loved her. “I was shocked,” she says. “I always looked at Sugeeth as a friend.”

Soon Saritha told her mother, Girija. And immediately Girija felt tense, and said, “There is no way your father will agree to this.” The reasons were simple: firstly, Saritha was already engaged. Secondly, Sugeeth belonged to the Ezhava caste, while Sarita is a Nair. “My father would never agree to an inter-caste marriage,” says Saritha.

So, on December 6, 2003, Girija and Saritha went across to Sugeeth’s house in North Paravur to explain to the director why the marriage cannot take place. Sugeeth started crying. Sugeeth’s friend, the director Aashique Abu, was also present. When Saritha saw Sugeeth’s face, something happened to her heart. She said, “Now that the secret is out, I am not going back home.”

It was nearing lunchtime. At any moment, her father, R. Mohan, who ran a travel agency, would be coming home. So Girija went home. After a while, Sugeeth’s mother, Geeta, went across and told Mohan about the situation. He listened silently. Then he looked at the watch, and said, “It is 1.45 p.m. If Saritha does not come home by 2 p.m., she is no longer my daughter.”

But Saritha did not go home.

Aashique asked Sugeeth, “Do you want to marry her?”

Sugeeth said, “I do.”

Ashique said, “Then there is no point crying and fretting about the situation. You should get married today.”

But the few temples they went to, the priests were unwilling to marry the couple at such short notice. But they got lucky at a temple at Thevara, Kochi, because that was the place where Geeta would give an annual talk on Sree Narayana Guru. So, finally, at 7.45 p.m. the couple tied the knot. 

For their honeymoon, they went to Munnar. “But we felt tense because we heard that a police case had been filed by my uncle at the North Paravur station alleging that Sugeeth had kidnapped me,” says Saritha. When they returned, they presented themselves at the station. Saritha then testified that she had got married on her own free will. Meanwhile, not surprisingly, her father refused to talk or meet with Saritha, but her mother began speaking to her within two weeks.   

Today, after ten years of marriage, Saritha and Sugeeth are as close as ever. “We are more like friends rather than husband and wife,” she says. “I still call him ‘Eda’ and ‘Poda’. He still calls my mother, ‘Girija Aunty’.”

And Sugeeth is very attached to Saritha. “Wherever he goes he wants me to come with him,” she says. “I am a regular visitor to the sets also.”

The last time was for the shooting of the film, ‘Three Dots’, at the Gold Souk mall, Kochi. “The one thing that I noticed about Sugeeth on location was that he has a lot of patience,” says Saritha. “In his own life, he becomes nervous, sentimental, and gets tense very quickly. He is also careless when it comes to house-related matters. In fact, he is dependent on me for everything. So, I have to pay the bills, look after the education of the children [daughter Sivani, 8, and son Devanarayan, 2 ½] and ensure the smooth running of the house.”

Nevertheless, Saritha likes to spend time with Sugeeth because both are movie buffs. “I remember, one day, we went to Cinemax, at the Oberon Mall, and saw four films one after the other,” she says, with a smile.

Of course, like any human being, Sugeeth has drawbacks. “He gets angry very quickly,” says Saritha. “But I have learnt to keep quiet. When he cools down I will tell my point of view. He also has a tendency to avoid responsibilities.”

Meanwhile, tragedy struck Saritha when her father was hit by a speeding bike just outside their home on January 28, 2012. He fell and hit his head on the ground. Mohan was rushed to the Medical Trust hospital where an emergency surgery on the brain was done. But he never regained consciousness.

It was during this time that the editing and post-production work on 'Ordinary' was being done. “On the one side, my father’s life was ebbing away,” says Saritha. “On the other hand, our film, 'Ordinary’ was coming to life.”

The film was released in March, 2012, and became a super-duper hit. “A few days later when people told us the film was a hit we found it difficult to believe,” says Saritha. “It seemed like a dream.” It was a dream debut for Sugeeth. However, their joy was short-lived. In June, Mohan passed away at the age of 63. “Sugeeth has an enduring regret that his father-in-law could not see 'Ordinary',” says Saritha. 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

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