Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Love Aaj Kal

COLUMN: Spouse's Turn

Subodh Maskara talks about life with the actor Nandita Das

By Shevlin Sebastian

On August 11, 2009, Subodh Maskara waited, with a mix of tenseness and expectation, at the coffee shop of the Four Seasons hotel in Mumbai. His friend, the well-known model, Milind Soman, had set up a blind date.

Suddenly, the woman walked in. “She was wearing a simple salwar and kurta, but had a radiant smile and a sparkle in her eyes,” says Subodh. “I felt that she was special.”

The woman was none other than Nandita Das, the famed actor, who has acted in Malayalam films like ‘Kanaki’ and ‘Naalu Pennungal’. Subodh and Nandita got along well immediately. While Nandita spoke about her career and her new job as the chairperson of the Children’s Film Society, Subodh talked about his business activities and life.

Soon, they felt comfortable enough to go for a movie, ‘Love Aaj Kal’, which starred Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone. “We met the next day and the next, and the next,” says Subodh. “Within a week we became attached to each other. We felt that there was something special between us.”

And within months they agreed to get married. It took place, on January 2, 2010, in front of a small group of family and friends, at Subodh’s home. And it was conducted in the way that Mahatma Gandhi would do so, at his Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. In fact, a Gandhian had come all the way from the ashram to oversee the ceremony.

The difference is that the girl is not given to the boy, as is usually the case in most weddings,” says Subodh. “There is equality between man and woman. This is unlike in Hinduism where they say a woman will serve her husband and make him happy. This was Nandita’s idea and I liked it.”

As for the honeymoon, it happened two weeks before the wedding. In December, 2009, Nandita had been selected to become a member of the jury of the Marrakesh Film Festival (December 4 -12).

So they left a week earlier and travelled around. They arrived in Casablanca and had meals at the famous Rick’s CafĂ©. Inside, there were large photographs, apart from tables and chairs, used by screen legends, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, during the shooting of the classic, ‘Casablanca’. Of course, it is another matter that the film was shot entirely in a studio at Hollywood.

When they had to leave for Marrakesh, 244 kms away, they got a shock. There were no train tickets. In the end they managed to get standing-room in a third-class compartment. “The organisers were surprised when we stepped out from a third-class bogie,” says Subodh. “They had arranged for a big limousine to take us to the festival centre. It was an awkward situation.”

Asked about his wife’s plus points, Subodh says, “She is a down-to-earth person. I never feel that she is Nandita Das the celebrity. She is always Nandita for me. She is very attached to her family [her father is the great artist Jatin Das]. She is also very engaged with social issues and meets so many interesting people. Her exposure is far greater than mine as a businessman. We have a lot of meaningful conversations and that has helped me to grow as a person.”

Subodh also appreciates Nandita's integrity. “She will never endorse a gold or diamond brand because she does not wear it,” says Subodh. “In fact, Nandita has received big offers to do so, but she has always said no. I believe 99 per cent of the people would have compromised and opted for the money, but she belongs to that 1 per cent.”

Thanks to this special woman, Subodh has had many memorable experiences. One of them was to see Nandita, with their son Vihaan, at the Breach Candy hospital on August 11, 2010. “This was exactly one year after we met,” says Subodh. “It became an unforgettable date for me.” Incidentally, 'Vihaan' is a Sanskrit word which means the rays of the morning sun.

And the birth changed Nandita. “She is an amazing mother,” says Subodh. “However, I had to convince Nandita to have a child in the first place. She told me motherhood is overrated. So I said, 'If you don't become a mother, you may regret it later. But if you become a mother, you will never regret it'. In fact, she tells me now that it was the best thing that has happened to her. It opened a part of her self which is unconditional love. You have a special attachment to your child. And your priorities change. You think of the child most of the time.”

Finally, regarding tips for a successful marriage, Subodh says, “The cause of hundred percent of divorces is marriage. Jokes apart, it is up to you to make the marriage work. And if it does not work, you are to blame. You have to take individual responsibility. Most marriages break up when one spouse blames the other. The challenge is to get along with the other person. There is no happily-ever-after. There are many problems. And you have to work hard to make your marriage a success.”

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)  

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