KOCHI: One morning, in December, 1990, a girl, along with her mother, came to an electronics shop at Fort Kochi, to get their TV repaired. The owner, P T Basheer, agreed to do so. As he stared at the girl, Cupid struck. “Unlike most girls, Reena had a striking look,” says Basheer. Thereafter, he saw her many times, because Reena would drop in to visit her uncle, an ophthalmologist by the name of Shaheer Bava, who lived near Basheer’s house. “I never spoke to her,” says Basheer. “But I liked her.”
Soon, fate intervened. A family friend brought Basheer a marriage proposal for Reena. Basheer did not take long to say yes, although there is a ten-year age difference between the two.
The wedding took place on May 10, 1992, at Fort Kochi. And the couple did something which is not done at a Muslim wedding. They fed each other mouthfuls of food during lunch. “Reena had told me earlier about her wish,” says Basheer. “And we were bold enough to do it.”For their honeymoon, they went to Kodaikanal. And Reena came up with an unusual request. She told Basheer she had never been on a cycle. So Basheer hired one, made her sit on the rod in front, and they rode around the Kodai lake.
“Reena was so excited about sitting on a cycle for the first time,” says Basheer. “She was only 18, so I could understand why she was so enthusiastic.”
Reena is also aggressive. “She wanted to learn painting, so she did that,” says Basheer. “Then she took classes on cooking and ceramic works. Soon, she began giving cooking classes for foreigners. Later, Reena ran a boutique called ‘Sensations’ for seven years on the ground floor of our home. Then she got a job as an anchor for a TV channel. Reena is always into something.”
Seven years ago, there was a competition for mothers on a TV channel. Her son, Binu, saw the promos and sent an application by SMS on behalf of his mother.
So, Reena took part. “It was a turning point for her,” says Basheer. “[Director] Lal Jose was a celebrity guest. He saw Reena’s performance as a dancer enacting a song, Bhawra Bada Naadan, from Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. The original picturisation was on Waheeda Rahman and Guru Dutt. Reena was dancing and showing all sorts of mannerisms. She also did a skit where she played an actress who pretends to have many roles, but in reality, she did not have any.”
An impressed Lal Jose gave Reena her first role in Mulla, as Biju Menon’s wife, Malathi Akka. Some of the other films she has acted in include Honeybee, You Can Do, Pigman, Teens, Ormayundo Ee Mukham, Ghost House, Traffic and Bharya Athra Pora. And just the other day, Reena returned from a 22-day shoot in Palakkad for a film called Mariyam Mukku, which stars Fahadh Faasil and Manoj K Jayan. Reena plays Clara, the wife of Manoj.
When a film is released, the family, which includes son Binu, and daughter Anjala, will go and see it on the first day. “I will tell her frankly if I liked her role or not, and whether there is scope for improvement,” says Basheer. “The role I liked the best was in Violin, in which Reena played an Anglo-Indian woman. Today, she is a much more confident actor.”
And a good mother too. “Reena is more like a friend, rather than a mother,” says Basheer. “Often, on weekends, she will go with the children and their friends to happening places to chill out. Reena is able to be on the wavelength of her children very easily.”
Reena can also get on Basheer’s wavelength easily. So when she saw a photo of a dazzling ruby set in a magazine, she was able to persuade Basheer to buy it for her. “But Reena also buys me gifts all the time,” says a smiling Basheer. “In fact, the last gift she gave me was an I-Pad.”
Nevertheless, there are negative attributes. “Reena has so many ideas that she does not stick to one thing for long,” says Basheer. “She will start something, it will go on for a while, then she will have a new idea and would want to try that. Now she has started a cake shop, ‘Temptations’ in Fort Kochi. Reena wants change all the time. This can be difficult to adjust to, but this is also what makes her so interesting.”
When asked for tips for a successful marriage, Basheer says, “There should be a mutual understanding. Both spouses come from different backgrounds. So, husband and wife have different traits. It does not mean that all the traits are positive. Some can be negative, too. So you have to work hard to develop an understanding. If you have that, you will be able to overcome all the difficulties that arise in a marriage.”