Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Under His Spell

COLUMN: Spouse's Turn

Kavitha talks about life with the magician Gopinath Muthukad 

Photo by Manu R. Mavelil  

By Shevlin Sebastian

At their first meeting, at Kavitha’s home in Perinthalmanna, Malappuram district, Gopinath Muthukad asked her whether she was comfortable about marrying a magician. “I did have some apprehensions,” she says. But later that evening, Kavitha went to see Gopinath’s show. “Gopinath performed well,” she says. “So I felt confident enough to say yes.” 

The couple got married on August 20, 1994, at the Kalyani Kalyana Mandapam at Angadipuram. Today, after 19 years of marriage, Kavitha is all praise for her husband. “Gopinath is an open and transparent person,” she says. “He always tells me frankly about any problem that he is facing. Gopinath does not drink or smoke. I come from a family where nobody did either. So it made it easy for me to get along with him.”

Perhaps the quality Kavitha admires the most is her husband’s punctuality. “If Gopinath is supposed to attend a 5 p.m. programme, he will ensure that he reaches at 4.50 p.m.,” she says. “Even when we set out on outings from home, he will announce the time and we will leave exactly on schedule,” she says.

Kavitha also likes the fact that Gopinath is a good father to their only child, eight-year-old Vismay. “When our son was younger, he would read out stories to him,” says Kavitha. “They are like friends to each other.” And Gopinath has already influenced his son because Vismay has learnt to do a few magic tricks.

Perhaps the one drawback about Gopinath is that he is a perfectionist, when it comes to his work. “He always expects things to be done rightly by his [23-member] troupe,” says Kavitha. “If that does not happen, he can lose his cool.”

On stage, Gopinath is a different person. He is a man who is in the grip of a passion. “Gopinath has a good stage presence,” says Kavitha. “What I like is the sincerity and dedication that he brings to every performance.”

Kavitha likes to watch her husband’s shows while sitting in the audience. “When the people clap, I feel thrilled,” she says. Nevertheless, there are moments when Kavitha feels a tension within her. That is when he does escape acts, like from fire, or in the water, when he is tied up and has to escape. “There is always a risk to life,” she says. “It has to be done precisely. A lot of practice is needed. That is when I feel scared. By the grace of God, so far, nothing bad has happened.”

But not all shows go smoothly. Sometimes there is a power cut. “It disturbs Gopinath’s concentration and upsets the flow of a show,” she says.    

But that is rare. Gopinath is a consummate professional who practices all the time at his Magic Academy Research Centre (MARC) at Thiruvananthapuram. “And when he puts in new material, he has to practice for hours together, to perfect it,” says Kavitha.

Incidentally, whenever Gopinath goes abroad he tries to watch magic shows, so that he can learn new tricks. Sometimes, Kavitha and Vismay go with him. A couple of months ago, they had gone for a two-week tour of the United States of America. In the audience there was a mix of Malayalis as well as whites. 

The notable difference between the audiences there and in Kerala is that, abroad, people show their appreciation by clapping all the time,” says Kavitha. “In Kerala, it takes some time to get a clap. It seems to me that people forget to show their appreciation because they are so engrossed in the programme.” 

Gopinath has performed in many countries in the Middle East, Kenya, Uganda, Britain and Switzerland.

I love Switzerland,” says Kavitha. “It is a beautiful country. We went to an amusement park called Connyland. It was very interesting, with lots of rides. From Switzerland we went by car to Italy. That was very enjoyable. We liked the city of Milan a lot.”   

Back at home, on days when Gopinath does not have a show, he gets up at 4.30 a.m. From 5 a.m. to 6.15 a.m., he does yoga with the help of a teacher, Subhash. Then he goes for a walk for one hour. Thereafter, he returns, has breakfast, and leaves for the MARC at 9 a.m. “He spends several hours practicing,” says Kavitha. “Gopinath also looks after the administration.”

Most days, he comes home by 7 p.m. Sometimes, they go out to visit friends. Otherwise, Gopinath reads books. “Osho is his favourite author,” says Kavitha. “He likes the content, and the so many interesting stories that Osho tells.” Thereafter, dinner is at 8.30 p.m., with lights out at 10 p.m. “That’s because he likes to get up early,” says Kavitha.  

She admits that the magician’s life is an uncertain one. “It depends on getting shows regularly,” she says. “So there is tension for both of us, but now I have got used to it.”

Meanwhile, when asked to give tips for a successful marriage, Kavitha says, “Husband and wife should learn to adjust to each other. If the husband is travelling a lot, the wife has to take the responsibility of running the house and looking after the education of the children.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

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