Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Two Becomes One

COLUMN: Spouse's Turn 

Chintoo talks about life with the musician Rex Vijayan 

By Shevlin Sebastian 

Photo of Chintoo by Manu R Mavelil 

One morning, in 1999, Thankachi Miss told the students of the Sree Narayana Women’s College in Kollam that if they wanted to do well in the Western music (group and solo) competitions of the University Youth Festival they needed a guide. So the students, led by Chintoo Remesh, looked around. Somebody suggested the name of Rex Vijayan, but said, “He is a serious person, has a bit of ego and, most probably, will say no.”

Nevertheless, Chintoo, along with her friends, met Rex at his home at Kollam. And, to their surprise, he agreed easily. 

When he came to the rehearsals, he did not talk much. “We were singing two Spice Girls songs called, 'Viva Forever', and ‘2 become 1’,” says Chintoo. “Rex arranged the music.” 

After the practice sessions were concluded, since there were no funds, Chintoo painted a card, with an eye on the cover, and wrote, 'You are a Special Person'. When everybody was present, she gave him the card. 

Meanwhile, at the youth festival, they did not win anything in the western group section, but, in the solo category, Chintoo got the second prize for singing 'Save The Best For Last' by Vanessa Williams. 

Around this time, two girls developed a crush on Rex. So they told Chintoo whether she could convey to Rex that they wanted a friendship with him. But when Chintoo called up Rex and told him, he said, “These are silly matters. I prefer not to talk about it.” 

Chintoo felt embarrassed. Nevertheless, they remained in touch, and had numerous conversations on the phone. Soon, Chintoo realised that they had a similar wavelength. 

A few months later, in 2000, Rex decided to shift to Kochi. “He asked me whether I wanted to say anything,” says Chintoo. “I asked whether it is about the friendship. Rex said, ‘Yes’. So, we started talking and realised that we were in love.” 

In Kochi, Rex joined the Motherjane band and got busy. For many months there was no contact. Chintoo sent letters and cards. She was puzzled by the silence. Then she began to feel depressed. Suddenly, Rex called from Kochi and gave her a contact number. And Chintoo got excited once again. But after a while, there was another long silence. Through friends she came to know that Rex had gone to Munich to join an amateur German hip-hop band, ‘Intensive Erfrischung’ (Intensive Refreshment). But, thankfully, for Chintoo, Rex returned after six months. 

By this time Chintoo had joined the Fatima Matha College at Kollam to do her MA. Once again, the youth festival came up. And once again Chintoo was participating in the Western solo song segment. 

While she was standing at the venue, in Kollam, in the distance she saw the judges arriving. But when they came close, Chintoo got the shock of her life. One of the judges was Rex. He had long hair and looked different. “He just smiled at me and walked past,” says Chintoo. “I was dazed. Was this actually Rex? He had not told me he would be coming.” 

And when Chintoo went on stage, she felt so nervous that she forgot the lyrics. “I made a mess of it,” says Chintoo. “Later, Rex told me that he did not want to acknowledge me since he was a judge.” 

In 2003, Rex founded the Avial Band and was working with the Daksha Sheth dance-drama company. One day, there was a rehearsal at the University Students Centre at Thiruvananthapuram, in which Rex was providing the music. Chintoo was also in the city because she was learning Russian. 

They met at the students centre. Rex proposed. And Chintoo accepted. However, her parents were opposed to the marriage, because Chintoo is a Hindu while Rex is a Christian. And it took five long years, before Chintoo’s parents finally gave their consent. The registered marriage took place at Kollam on March 14, 2008. 

Asked to list her husband’s plus points, Chintoo says, “He is a down-to-earth person and has a good sense of humour. Rex has a sharp mind. When he meets anybody he can quickly gauge their true intentions. And he has a keen music sense.” 

Regarding his negatives, Chintoo says, “For Rex, it is music, music, and music. But honestly, I have no problems with that, because I just love it that music is his passion. But when I talk to him about things like running the house, he does not pay any attention. Since I am a practical person, it is okay.” 

A conscientious Chintoo ensures that she switches off all the fans and lights when it is not being used. “Rex teases me by saying that this is because both my parents had been employees of the KSEB (Kerala State Electricity Board),” she says, with a smile. 

Today, Rex is producing an album for Motherjane and has just scored the music for ‘Picket 43’, a Malayalam film, which stars Prithviraj and Javed Jaffrey. Chintoo, on the other hand, is working as a web designer in a software firm at Thiruvananthapuram. 

Asked for tips for a successful marriage, Chintoo says, “The most important thing is that spouses should love other. For that to happen there should be a magnetic attraction between them. You should also respect each other as individuals and be willing to make compromises.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram) 

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