Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Love At First Sight

COLUMN: Spouse's Turn 

Vijaysree talks about her life with the film director Dr. Biju Damodaran

Photo by Ravi Choudhary 

By Shevlin Sebastian 

My husband had approached many eminent stars to play the role of a sweeper in his film, ‘Perariyathavar’,” says Vijaysree, the spouse of award-winner film director Dr. Biju Damodaran. “First they would show interest. Then they would turn it down because they did not want to play a sweeper. Biju was in despair. He had almost given up on the film.”

But it was Vijaysree who suggested the name of Suraj Venjaramoodu after seeing him on a television show. “I felt that he would do the role well,” she says. And when the director approached Suraj, he said yes immediately. “Then Biju had a stroke of luck when he met the producer K Anilkumar during Onam last year and he agreed to make the film,” says Vijaysree. And now all of them are basking in the stunning news that while Dr. Biju won the national award for best film on environment/conservation for ‘Perariyathavar’ , Suraj won it for best actor.

The tale of Dr Biju and Vijaysree began when they saw each other for the first time in April, 2001, because of a marriage proposal. Biju was wearing a red-coloured shirt and a white mundu. “When I saw him for the first time, I immediately felt a liking for him,” says Vijaysree. The feeling was mutual. On September 10, they got married at Vijaysree’s home town of Kulakkada in Kollam district. For their honeymoon they went to Elappara in Idukki. “It was a place of scenic beauty,” she says. “And we had a nice time.”

Over the past few years, Vijaysree has slowly got used to Biju’s unusual life of being a doctor – a medical superintendent at the Kayamakulam Government Homeo Hospital – as well as an award-winning film director. “Unlike most creative artists who lock themselves up in a room when they want to write a script, Biju can write anywhere,” says Vijaysree. “Even as he is having a chat with me, he may be working on his script. Then he might stop writing and play with our six-year-old son Govardhan. Most of the time, he likes to write while sitting on the bed.”

And Biju sounds out Vijaysree as soon as he gets an idea. “I react like an ordinary person,” says Vijaysree. “If I like the idea, I will say yes or it is a plain no.”

Vijaysree admits that Biju’s award-winning films – ‘Saira’, ‘Raman’, ‘Veettilekkulla Vazhi’, and ‘Akasathinte Niram’ – are not for a mass audience. But Biju got a surprise recently. His friend, Dr. Mathew Kurian, who works in a private hospital at Piravom, told him that he had an old woman as a patient. She comes from a poor family. One day she told the doctor that she liked ‘Veettilekkulla Vazhi’. “So ordinary people also like my husband’s films,” says Vijaysree, with a smile.

Asked about her husband’s plus points, Vijaysree says, “Biju is always cool, no matter what happens. He looks at everything in a positive way. Whenever problems arise at the hospital, on the sets or at home, he always reacts in a cool manner.”

Vijaysree also likes her husband’s helping nature. “One day when he came back after a long trip, he was told by his mother that her sister, Rajamma, was not well,” she says. “Immediately Biju set out for the hospital to monitor the treatment. Even if there is such a situation in my family, he will rush to help.”

At his workplace, Vijaysree has seen Biju behave in a humble and simple manner. “This is so rare,” she says. “Government doctors behave so arrogantly and in a high-handed manner. You can observe that when you ask them for a medical certificate.”

Perhaps the one aspect which irritates Vijaysree about her husband is that when she falls ill, Biju takes it in a casual manner. “Maybe, it is because he is a doctor and knows that the illness is not a serious one,” she says.

Another negative is that he is always on the phone. Patients ring him up, so do people from the film industry, his colleagues and friends. “This has become a lot more after he won the National Award,” says Vijaysree.

In fact, their neighbours in Adoor in Pathanamthitta district did not even know that he was a film-maker. “They were very surprised when they read the news in the newspaper that he had won the award,” says Vijaysree.

And the neighbours later rued the fact that when Suraj came to visit Biju, the people did not know till they saw the photos in the next day’s newspaper. “If only you had told us,” some of them said with disappointed smiles to Vijaysree.

But Vijaysree says that it was a sudden visit. “Suraj was so happy that both Biju and he had won the national award,” she says.

When asked to give tips for a successful marriage, “I always say that a girl should marry a little late. I was 26 when I got married while Biju was 30,” says Vijaysree. “So I had the maturity to handle the problems of marriage better. I also knew how to adjust to my husband’s family. You should love the spouse once you get married. And always be honest with each other.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

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