Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Her dear Black Cat

COLUMN: Spouse's Turn 

Anita Nair talks about life with director and actor Major Ravi, a former commando

Photo by Shiba Sahu

By Shevlin Sebastian

When Anita Nair's father said it was time to get married, she was not  keen. Anita was only 23 years old and was doing her post-graduation in life sciences from the Regional Institute of Education in Bhubaneshwar. The boy, AK Ravindran, was a Black Cat Commando with the Delhi-based National Security Guard.

Reluctantly, Anita said yes to meeting Ravi at their home in Hyderabad. On a weekend, Ravi flew to Hyderabad and met Anita. But at their meeting, no sparks flew at all. “I was not carried away nor was he,” says Anita. “It was more of an okay from the parental side, rather than between us.”  The marriage took place on December 30, 1988, at Guruvayur temple.

And right from the beginning, Anita was taken aback by the fierce dedication and sincerity that Ravi had for his job. “Whenever any operational assignment would come up, the first person to volunteer was Ravi,” says Anita. “The other guys would give excuses like, 'Tomorrow is my wife's check up' or 'I have to take her for an injection.' But Ravi never gave a second opportunity to anybody else. I would think, 'Why is my husband so different?'”

The unusual thing about being a Black Cat commando was that Ravi would set out for work in the morning and instead of returning in the evening, he would be gone for several weeks. There was no advance notice. 

Once when Ravi had gone away, his colleague, Captain Hitesh Luv, told Anita that since she was six months pregnant, she should come and stay with him, his sister-in-law and mother. “I agreed,” says Anita. “We were good family friends.” But a few days later, at 10.30 p.m., there was a knock on the door. It was Ravi.

The then captain was wearing the famous Black Cat uniform. Five guards, with their guns, were sitting in an open jeep. “Ravi did not speak to me except to ask me to get onto the vehicle,” says Anita. “Thereafter, he drove from Hitesh's place to our home at top speed. I knew he was angry. Because when he came back, tired and hungry, he expected me to be at home and provide him with good home-cooked food.”

Asked about his qualities, Anita says, “Ravi is a person who will never say no to anything or anybody. In the middle of the night if you call him and say, 'Listen, buddy, I have a problem, can you come?', he will just go to help. The only problem is that Ravi does not show his affection. I tell him that when you love a person you should show it.”

Meanwhile Ravi has an enduring regret. Since he had been away so often from home, he could not see his only child, Arjun, much during his growing-up years. “Arjun would also miss his father a lot,” says Anita. “In fact, during his childhood Arjun would think that his father was an uncle. When Ravi would give him a chocolate, he would keep it, and say, 'Mama, after uncle goes, we will eat it'.”

Ravi’s absences became longer when he became the aide-de camp (security) to General Sunith Francis Rodrigues, the chief of the army staff. “He would be travelling with the general for months together,” says Anita.

The turning point for Major Ravi came when he quit the NSG, and joined the Research and Analysis Wing, and was posted in the Andaman Islands. He was doing duty at the airport. 

One day, Major Ravi noticed a commotion at one side. It was a crew of the film, 'Kalapani'. “One member was very sick and needed to be flown to hospital in Chennai,” says Anita. “But there was one flight per week and the man could not be accommodated. But Major Ravi knew that was one VIP seat which was always left vacant.”

The major intervened, met the officials and ensured that the patient took the flight. This was mentioned to the producer, Suresh Balaji who met him and said thank you. They got talking, and Major Ravi told him about his exploits as a Black Cat commando. Thereafter, Ravi met Mohanlal and director Priyadarshan. “Ravi was so thrilled that when he came back he said, 'Ani, you are not going to believe this but today I met Mohanlal and Priyadarshan,” says Anita.

Soon, the industry stalwarts asked Major Ravi to join the film industry. “He had always been interested in theatre from his childhood,” says Anita. “In school, college, and in the Army he had taken part in plays.” Around 14 years ago, the major took the plunge. “I did have apprehensions because it is an uncertain life in the film industry,” says Anita. “But Ravi had no doubts. What he make a decision it is final.”

Major Ravi’s first film was ‘Megham’, which was followed by ‘Raakilipattu’, ‘Aalavandhan’ and ‘Onnaman’. It was in 2002 that he turned director with ‘Punarjani’. Thereafter, he has brought out films like ‘Keerthi Chakra’, ‘Mission 90 Days’, ‘Kurukshetra’, and ‘Kandahar’, among other films.

Asked for tips for a successful marriage, Anita, who is celebrating her silver wedding anniversary in December, says, “It is a mechanical world, where couples hardly have any time for each other. They should give half an hour every day as quality time for each other. Share your problems, your do's and don'ts. You need to voice the problems which you are facing in the marriage, otherwise it will accumulate. Then a third party will intrude and complicate the issue.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

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