COLUMN: Spouse's Turn
Manoj Nair talks about life with the actress Beena Antony
By Shevlin Sebastian
Actor Manoj Nair had gone to Mumbai to take part in a cultural programme in 2000. Even though he was the compere, he sang a KJ Yesudas song, 'Nee Madhu Pagaroo', accompanied by an orchestra. That evening, during a group dinner, the actress Beena Antony complimented him on his singing. “I never imagined you could sing so well,” she said. “In fact, you sang better than most singers.” In turn, Manoj complimented Beena on her dance item. Then they began chatting with each other.
“Beena asked me whether I do stage shows in Kerala and I said yes,” says Manoj. “So I told her the next time I did one I would invite her. And that was how we exchanged mobile numbers.”
Thereafter, for several months there was a silence. Then Manoj's friend, Sunil, asked whether Beena could be a chief guest at a club function in Paravur. So Manoj contacted Beena and she agreed. They met once again when he went to collect her. And this time they remained in touch.
“We would speak for hours on the phone,” says Manoj. “There was no love talk. Instead, we just opened our hearts to each other. After six months, we realised that there was something going on.”
One day, Beena sent a text message, 'Do you like me?' He replied in the affirmative, but in a teasing sort of way. So they decided they would get married.
Since it was an inter-caste marriage, Manoj was apprehensive. But both sets of parents agreed easily. “In fact, my late father-in-law Antony did the Sabarimala pilgrimage three times,” he says. “My own father respected all religions.”
And the members of the film industry also expressed support. “Many came up, and told me that I was making the right choice,” says Manoj. “They said
Beena is a good woman. Some mentioned that too many had spoken badly about her.”
The marriage took place on April 24, 2003. But they did not have an official honeymoon, since they were travelling a lot, taking part in programmes all over the country and in the Middle East.
Asked about her qualities, Manoj says, “Beena is a true professional. She works as sincerely as possible. Unlike others, Beena never talks ill about people. I also trust her implicitly.”
Manoj is happy that she is a dedicated wife. “As soon as I get up, she provides the morning tea, apart from all my meals,” he says. “I don't need to ask for it. It is always ready. And she cares for our seven-year-old son, Aromal, in the same way.”
But it is not all smooth sailing. “Beena gets angry quickly,” says Manoj. “I am also short-tempered. So you can imagine how it is. Beena also gets impatient when she is teaching Aromal. So I always try to calm her down. I feel a woman should be patient and steady.”
Another drawback is that Beena gets tense over the smallest of matters. “This affects her health,” says Manoj.
In fact, Beena has had some difficult health issues. When she was one-and-a-half months pregnant, her father died in a road accident. Beena went into shock. Later, during her third month of pregnancy, when they were performing in Goa, Beena had a miscarriage. “The doctor said that the shock Beena experienced at her father's death had a direct impact on the foetus,” says Manoj. “It stopped growing, and the heartbeat became faint, till it stopped finally in Goa. So, an abortion was done.”
But, thereafter, there was good news. 16 months later, on March 20, 2003, Aromal was born.
The next morning, as Manoj held the healthy baby in his arms, he told Beena, “I was not sad when our first child died. I knew God would give me another baby. I believe God will never harm you. So, we must never lose our faith in Him even when sad things happen.”
Meanwhile, as Manoj talks at his villa, near the Vytilla Mobility Hub, Beena has gone for a shoot for the television serial, ‘Amala’, at Thiruvananthapuram, apart from being a guest on the show, ‘Sishu Samrakshanam’ on Surya TV. “That is the artiste's life,” says Manoj. “The hours are long and non-stop. You can finish shooting at 11 p.m. And the production controller will say that he will be sending the car the next morning at 6 a.m. And you have to be ready.”
When asked for tips for a good marriage, Manoj says, “Love your life partner with your heart and mind. Not just the body, but love the person. Try to avoid talk or behaviour which irritates the spouse.”
And then Manoj talks about a subject that is rarely discussed in private or public: the spectre of domestic violence. “I know of many instances where the husband hits the wife,” he says. “I tell them they are cowards to pick on somebody who is weaker. No wife could have done anything so bad that you need to hit her. A wife will cut you off in her heart if you use physical violence. Later, the husband might forget about the violence, but not the wife.”
(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)