Monday, February 08, 2016

Behind The Scenes


Smitha talks about life with the Mollywood film director Ranjith Shankar

Photos by Albin Mathew 

By Shevlin Sebastian

As Smitha was getting her make-up done, on the first floor of the KM auditorium in Manissery, her cousin suddenly rushed in and said, “Ranjith has already arrived.” Smitha, as well as the beautician, Reshma (name changed), rushed to the window and looked down. Indeed, Ranjith had arrived an hour early for their 11.30 a.m. marriage on November 22, 2003. As Ranjith stood around, in front of the car, in an off-white shirt and mundu, Reshma said, “He looks serious and focused.”

Smitha then borrowed the mobile phone from her cousin and called Ranjith. He said, “Where are you calling from?”

Upstairs,” said Smitha.

Ranjith looked up, but could not see Smitha.

I will never forget that image, of Ranjith looking up, during our wedding day,” says Smitha, at her well-appointed villa, at Kochi, where she stays with her husband, daughter Tara, 11, son Tarun, 7, and her in-laws. It was a few days after the successful reception of 'Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam', starring Jayasurya, so it was a happy household.

Asked to list Ranjith's qualities, Smitha says, “He is very patient. At times, when I am down, I would like a bit of pampering. And Ranjith always provides that. Ranjith also never talks ill about anybody, no matter how badly some people behave with him. He has the ability to look at things from the other person's viewpoint.”

His negative point is that which afflicts most families these days. “Ranjith is always on the mobile,” says Smitha. “He likes to stay connected with people. I tell him that sometimes he should switch it off so that he can give an undivided attention to the family.”

Sometimes, Ranjith asks for attention from Smitha. Every day when she comes back from her office, at an IT firm in Info Park, Ranjith asks Smitha whether he could read something that he had written that day. “He feels that there will be something I can suggest,” she says.

And Smitha does offer suggestions, not only in the writing stage. “For ‘Su Su’, there was a scene where the actor Ershad, as Kurup, is holding the collar of Sudhi (Jayasurya),” she says. “I saw it during the dubbing stage. But in the first cut, the scene had been taken out. I told Ranjith that the scene was powerful. It shows the negative character of Kurup and the helplessness of Sudhi. So he put it back.”

Like most directors, the day before the Friday release is a tense day. “He does not know how the audience will react,” says Smitha. “On Friday morning, as a family, we go to the Thrikakkara temple and pray for the film's success.”

On the release day of 'Su Su', (November 20, 2015), Smitha took leave, and the couple left the house at 9 a.m. They spent the next few hours wandering around Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. “It was only by 2 p.m. that we got the news that people had liked the film and it would become a hit,” says Smitha. “We were so relieved. In fact, 'Su Su' is one of my favourite films of Ranjith.”

As Smitha talks, suddenly Ranjith comes in. And within minutes, he has to leave, because son Tarun is crazy about cricket, so the father is taking him to attend a cricket camp at Edapally. “We share parental duties,” says a smiling Smitha.

Asked to give tips to youngsters who are about to get married, Smitha says, “The most important thing is to understand the family’s background and culture. Then the girl should act in a way which does not disturb the rhythm. Apart from that, one should be patient and try to understand the husband's viewpoint. Be willing to come to a compromise. In my experience, there is nothing which you cannot work out through dialogue.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)   

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