The first time singer Amrutha Suresh saw Bala she was taken aback.
He was wearing a torn lungi and a checked shirt and had dark smudges on his face. Bala was playing a deaf orphan in the film ‘Venalmaram’. The shoot was taking place at Palakkad. Amrutha’s younger sister, Abhirami, had a small role.
At that time, Amrutha had hit the public spotlight with her performance during the Idea Star Singer contest. The local people surrounded her. Bala asked why this was so.
Senior actor Mala Aravindan told Bala about Amrutha’s new celebrity status and also that she was the playback singer for the film. And it was then that Bala realised that when he was coming to the set, he had been hearing Amrutha’s ‘Ayalathe Kuyile’, and liked it a lot. Later, Bala became a celebrity judge on the Star Singer show.
After the taping, Amrutha and Bala started speaking on the phone.
“He was already friends with Abhirami,” says Amrutha.
Soon, they began a friendship. But Amrutha remembers the precise moment that she fell in love. On her 18th birthday --August 2, 2008 -- there was nobody at their home in Edapally, Kochi. Abhirami was acting in the Kuttichathan TV serial in Thiruvananthapuram.
“My parents had gone with her for the shoot,” says Amrutha. “I was feeling all alone.” And then, suddenly, without any advance notice, Bala landed up, with a chocolate cake, with the words, ‘Happy Birthday Ammu’, along with a gift.
“That really touched my heart,” she says.
“He was so busy, yet he took the time out to not only buy a cake, but also come in person to greet me.” But both were hesitant to confess their feelings for each other.
“I was scared to tell him because he was eight years older,” says Amrutha. “And he had the same thought that I was much younger than him.” Eventually, Amrutha spoke to her parents about the friendship and Bala did the same with his mother.
The families spoke to one another. Things were moving along smoothly. But Amrutha and her family needed the permission of one very important person in their lives: Mata Amritanandamayi. “For us, Amma is everything,” she says.
And when Mata Amritanandamayi expressed her approval, the marriage took place on August 27, 2010, at a ceremony in Chennai.
Incidentally, Bala is a Tamilian and a devotee of Lord Shiva. So after one and a half years of marriage, what does she like the most about Bala?
“He is a caring person,” says Amrutha. “If I ask for anything the next moment it is in my hands. Sometimes, he treats me like a child, because of the age gap.
But he is a good-hearted person, who goes out of his way to help people.” And unlike most husbands, he has been supportive of Amrutha’s singing profession.
“My career is moving forward, without any hindrance,” says Amrutha.
“In fact, I will be singing in Bala’s next film.” Of course, like any person, Bala has weaknesses. “In the initial months of our marriage he would lose his temper,” says Amrutha. “But this was because we were two different people who were trying to adjust to each other.” Asked whether Bala is different at work, Amrutha says, “Yes, when he is on the set, he is a serious person.
He is dedicated to acting. But the moment he comes back home, he is relaxed.
Despite playing a villain on set, at home, he is a soft person. He tells me everything that has happened on the set.”
And when the couple steps out in public, they have interesting experiences.
“When we are together, very few girls approach us,” says Amrutha. But the moment Bala is alone, women will appear and some will go to the extent of pinching him. “I remember Bala telling me, one day, ‘Ammu, one girl pinched me so hard,” she says. “I do feel jealous, but I know this is happening because of his profession. So I always try to be with him when he goes for public events.”
Amrutha has her own share of admirers, but that was before she got married.
“I received a lot of marriage proposals on the phone and even, formally, through families,” she says. “But by then I was deeply in love with Bala.”