Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Her Days And Nights

COLUMN: Spouse's Turn

(An interview with Seema in 2013 about her husband, the Mollywood director IV Sasi who died on October 24, at age 69):

Seema talks about life with veteran director I. V. Sasi

By Shevlin Sebastian

One day, in 1977, Seema went to the Vijaya Gardens in Chennai to oversee the shooting of a dance sequence. Seema [original name: Shanthi] and a dancer Manisha had to wait a long time, since shooting had not begun. So they decided to have their tiffin. Suddenly, both of them heard somebody snapping his fingers.

When Seema turned to identify the sound she realised it was the director of the film, IV Sasi. Manisha said, “Why is the director calling us by snapping his fingers? Why can't he use our names?”

Seema remained silent. Then as she was going towards the dustbin to throw away a plastic packet, Sasi said, “Hey, come here.”

Seema said, “Shanthi is my name. I am not a dog that you call me by snapping your fingers.”

You are a chatterbox,” said Sasi. “There is a dance in my film, ‘Ee Manohara Theeram’. Will you do it?”

Seema said, “I don't want to do a song. I am already acting as a heroine in ‘Nizhalae Nee Sakshi.’”

Sasi did not say anything. The next day, the dance master Vaikom Murthy went to Seema’s house and requested her to dance in Sasi’s film. “I decided to ask for a huge sum of money,” says Seema. “But Sasi agreed. I then asked for more. And again Sasi agreed. I said, ‘Give the money first’. And, amazingly, he sent it.”

So Seema had no option but to dance in the film. And it was after the shoot was completed that Sasi fell in love with her.

In the meantime, Sasi had begun work on ‘Avalude Ravukal’ (Her Nights). Not surprisingly, all the established heroines refused to act in it because the role was that of a prostitute. Sasi did make-up tests and took photo stills of Seema. He liked what he saw, and selected Seema for the role. Of course, it was a path-breaking movie and established Seema as a sexy siren in Malayalam films. By now, both of them were in a relationship.

A couple of years went by. In July, 1980, Seema’s mother, who bought her a diamond, showed it to an astrologer. He said, “It is good that you have bought the diamond now. By September, the girl should get married, otherwise she will have to wait for three years.”

When Seema heard this, she immediately went to Sasi’s house, in Chennai, and said, “If you want to get married to me, it should be before September, otherwise, forget it.” Sasi looked stunned. Then Seema left for the shoot of the film, 'Chaghara', near Thrissur.

A couple of days later, there was a phone call. Sasi told Seema the marriage had been fixed for August 28, at the Mangad temple, near Chennai.

And on schedule the marriage took place. But there was no chance for a honeymoon, as Seema had to return to the shoot.

First love

Cinema was Sasi’s first love or as Seema says, “It was his first wife. I have no problems with that. It was through films that we have earned our bread and butter. So I was happy he was so passionate about it.”

In fact, so intense was Sasi's commitment that when the film’s release day neared, Sasi went through an enormous tension. And, irrespective of whether it was a hit or a flop, the director had severe loose motions for a week. “That will give you an indication of his commitment,” says Seema.

But both were like chalk and cheese. While Sasi never talked, Seema remained loud and voluble. “I think in 37 years we must have spoken to each other for 15 days,” she says.
Nevertheless, this taciturn man has been good to his children. Anu and son Ani.

Says Seema, “I am grateful to Sasi Chettan for being with me for so many years and never abandoning me. My husband was a good person and a great director.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

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