Sunday, September 23, 2012

Suniel Shetty On Keeping The Spark Alive


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 SECRETS OF A SUCCESSFUL 'HAPPILY EVER AFTER' MARRIAGE 

A well known Bollywood actor standing at a party, talking to fawning -eager friends that ingratiate themselves to him. He is polite, attentive, but his hand is groping for someone. He doesn’t find her and becomes distracted from the crowd thronging him. He is looking for his wife. 

Rare wouldn’t you say? Especially in Bombay’s fast lifestyle where many men post a ‘love you’ for their wives on BBM while they are having private nookies with sexy young women ever available for that excitement of a married man? The wife looks lovingly at him, saying “I’m right here babes”! 

This is a tiny vignette, symbolic to the tone of Suniel Shetty’s marriage to Mana.

Obviously, living among the social set, where married women and men take each other so much for granted, reprimand each other publicly  or are over polite and indulgent to cover up an affair, I am curious about what makes this marriage so intimate and special. 

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I ask them quite candidly about their chemistry. How and when did it all start?

Their relationship (he says thirty years, she says seventeen) spanning many decades, is rare, especially when you see the spark so alive and the attraction real, not pretended and posed.  Suniel Shetty , when he said thirty years, probably meant the thirty years since he first laid eyes on her and decided she was the one, and she means since they really got married. 

We're at dinner at Frangipani , Bombay's favorite pizza gourmet restaurant, where Frangipani trees overlook calming water-bodies. I've known Suniel and Mana for some time now, and have always noticed that special bond between them. How has the spark stayed alive so long- the interest, the companionship, the love?

Doing things together is a great way to stay together in a marriage, literally and in spirit” shares Mana, “we do things with each other all the time, apart from the fact that we nearly never go to parties separately.”

To which Suniel adds emphatically, “If I wrap up at six I’m home at seven, I’ve always shown Mana off than hide her and I spoke about my daughter openly when she was born than try to sport the single image. Family always comes first for me. Our close friends are people we’ve grown up with since we were young, who also view us a unit.” 

The surroundings also help keep a relationship cemented. Suniel and Mana leave for work every morning and return home, hanging their professional cloaks at the door.

It is important to stay exciting to each other, in the way you look, in some amount of independence that you retain, without being an appendage to your spouse. -"Mana has self confidence, her own identity. We do our own thing professionally and nearly never do things separately in our personal lives. Her trust, belief and faith in me took me through everything, the ups and the downs” confides Suniel. 

Mana interjects “you have to step up, grow, and build your own life if you have to win respect. I choose not to know and find out what he’s doing in his work space, because I give space and need it too”.

Mana shares another trick to keep a marriage happy, “you don't marry a man, you marry a family in India. You have to over extend and look after your man’s family” 

Suniel is very clear that his home, his family, his kids take priority to everything else -“I like to come home after a work day to the peace of my home created by Mana, where I release stress and occasionally hang out with my ‘chaddi buddies’. I’m a simple guy, and sometimes look up startled in traffic when I see people surrounding my car, momentarily confused! “Shoot, I’m an actor” I say to myself! I have to remind myself of the fame I’ve garnered”

Bollywood is famed for its sex scandals within marriages - men who are found with models and maids when their wife is out of the ‘frame’, and of course changing partners faster than they change their phones. In this scenario how has Suniel dealt with temptation?  “you have to decide whether the temptation or momentary dalliance worth all that you lose for the irresponsibility?” says Suniel who was very clear the day he joint films, that he would draw the distinct line between work and personal life. He flaunted his wife and family in a milieu where people hide their marriages (and ironically subsequent divorces too) for many years.

 “Security, mutual respect, being with a well kept yummy man is a beautiful feeling. I still want to go to the airport to pick him up, we’ve kept that something special feeling alive and Suniel keeps me feeling wanted which makes the love happen every minute. Imagine how I’d feel if he didn’t want me around” Mana twinkles. 


Suniels message to making a marriage always sparkling is 


Love is about being loved and being loving” .


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