Tuesday, July 22, 2014

“I like to watch Navas on stage”

COLUMN: Spouse's Turn

Rehna talks about life with the mimicry artist Kalabhavan Navas

By Shevlin Sebastian 

One day, when comedian Suraj Vejaramoodu called up mimicry artist Kalabhavan Navas, his wife Rehna picked up the phone. She has a husky voice. Sooraj thought that Navas was impersonating a boy. Immediately, he took on the voice of a girl and said that he wanted to talk to Navas.

Rehna said, “I am Navas's wife.”

Sooraj said, “Son, please pass the phone to Navas. I need to talk to him urgently.”
This went on for a couple of minutes.

An exasperated Rehna said, “I am going to put the phone down.”

Suddenly, Sooraj asked, in his own voice, “Are you really Navas's wife?”

Yes,” she said.

I am so sorry,” said Sooraj. “I thought that Navas was teasing me by talking in a boy's voice.”

This has happened earlier, also. When she was active as an actress, producers would call the house. When Rehna picked up the phone, they would immediately say, “Son, please pass the phone to Rehna.”

At her home at Choondy, near Aluva, Rehna smiles and says, “I have got used to it.”

The house is set in sylvan surroundings. There are coconut trees and jackfruit and all types of plants. The walls are made of mud, so there is a cooling effect inside. A small gap in the roof in the middle of the house ensures that rainfall falls in, creating a beautiful and cascading effect.

Navas and his family first saw Rehna at a dance programme in Changaramkulam in December, 1999. Soon after, Navas' brother, Niyas, came to the house with a marriage proposal. But Rehna's father, Hassanar, the stage actor, was reluctant to say yes, because his elder daughter, Swapna, was not yet married.

In the end, Navas waited for three years, till Swapna got married, before he tied the knot with Rehna on October 27, 2002, at Vadakanacherry.

It was a hectic time for Rehna. She had just finished shooting for the hit television serial, 'Sthree', on a Friday and had to set out early in the morning on Sunday to go to Vadakanacherry for the wedding. When they returned to her home at Aluva, at 10 p.m., Rehna was so tired that she went to sleep straightaway.

That was how I spent the wedding night,” she says. But at 4 a.m., Navas woke her up saying that he had a sore throat and asked for a cup of tea. “I was so dazed, that it took me some time to realise that there is a man sleeping next to me and he is my husband,” says Rehna.

Over the years, Rehna has developed an admiration for Navas. “Nothing affects him,” says Rehna. “He is super cool. But I am a hyper person, especially when I have to deal with the children.”

They are Naharin, 10, and sons, Rihan, 6, and Ridwan 1 ½). “Navas is not strict with the children,” she says. “He is more like a friend.”

Perhaps the one negative is that like all artistes Navas spends a lot of time thinking. “When he is alone, he is busy writing a script, for his stage shows, or studying his roles,” says Rehna. “So when I tell Navas something important he will just stare at me and nod. I assume that he has understood what I have said, but the next day when I ask him about him, he will have no memory of it.”

But when he is not working, every now and then, the family goes to see films at the PVR Cinema in Lulu Mall or the Oberon Mall in Kochi. Sometimes, they go for short vacations. And end up having unusual experiences.

A couple of years ago, they went to Wayanad for a short vacation in their Tata Innova. When they reached Kottakal, Navas discovered that he had forgotten to take his purse which contained the money, as well as the ATM cards. Rehna also did not have any money. So she suggested that they return home.

It was about 7 p.m. But Navas had no mood to turn back. They sat for several minutes wondering what to do. Then suddenly, Rehna showed him the gold rings that she was wearing.

Navas then came up with a creative solution. He took a couple of rings, went to a jewellery shop, sold it, got the money and they carried on with their vacation. “It was so funny that I laughed till I cried,” she says. “Navas is crazy, but a loving person.”

Rehna also loves to watch her husband perform. “I have a great affection for stage artistes, since my own father was one. My father would say a lot of dialogues, had a good voice and looked nice on stage. So I feel very happy when I see Navas perform.”

But she does not feel the same excitement when she sees him in films.

There is far less freedom while acting in a movie,” she says. “The area which you can move around is fixed, and you have to listen to the director. But on the stage you have the freedom to move around, and can exploit your talent to the maximum.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram) 

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