Abhilash Kumar was in Class 7 at the Seventh Day Adventist school at Thrissur, when he saw Lena for the first time. “She was sitting in Class 6, wearing a white shirt, grey skirt and blue tie,” he says. “Taller and fairer than her classmates, she was gorgeous even at that age.”
But it took Abhilash a year to speak to her. “I asked her whether she had stamps,” he says. “Because I had a collection and wanted to exchange some with her. Lena told me she did not collect stamps, but a friendship began. We would exchange sweets on our birthdays and cards during the festivals. We took part in cultural events. While Lena did drama, I would do mimicry skits.”
At the end of Class 8, Abhilash expressed his love to Lena. “There were several boys who were crazy about her,” he says. “But I managed to catch her attention. Soon, we started talking to each other on the phone.”
Lena’s mother, Teena, would get upset. She repeatedly told Abhilash not to call up her daughter. In Class 10, during the annual day function, Abhilash drew Lena aside and placed a gold ring on her finger. The next day, Teena called up Abhilash and asked him to take back the ring which he did.
After his plus two Abhilash went to Bangalore and got a job and did a correspondence course for B Com. Lena did her graduation from Prajyoti Niketan College in Pudukad. At that time, she acted in Lal Jose’s ‘Randam Bhavam’. Thereafter, she took a break and did her masters in clinical psychology from a college in Mumbai. Abhilash and Lena remained in touch. And finally on January 16, 2004, they got married.
In 2006, Lena became a household name when she played the role of Jancy in the television serial, ‘Omanathinkalpakshi.’ So far, she has acted in 30 films. Abhilash, on the other hand, joined the film industry as an associate director in ‘Salt ‘n Pepper’ in 2010. He has shot to public attention as the scriptwriter of Aashique Abu’s latest hit, ‘22 Female Kottayam’.
So, after eight years of marriage, what is that Abhilash likes about Lena? “Since she is a Piscean, she is very imaginative,” he says. “She takes care of our flat in Bangalore so well. She has an artistic nature, and makes and collects masks. One of our walls is full of masks.” In fact, the mask Abhilash likes the most is one of the Joker from the Batman film. “It looks very alive,” he says. “Lena made it when [Australian actor] Heath Ledger, who played the Joker, passed away in 2008.”
Abhilash also admires his wife’s spirituality. “Lena believes that everything in the Universe is linked to each other,” he says. “She likes the teachings of Osho, Lord Buddha, Swami Vivekananda and Sai Baba. It has a calming effect on her.”
But, sometimes, Lena does lose her calm. “It is mostly because of my indecisiveness,” he says. “I am a ‘confusion kid’. I am a person who bothers about the opinions of others, but Lena has been able to get me out of that mind-set. She told me it is important to do what I want.”
In their marriage Abhilash and Lena also do what they want. “We place a higher emphasis on freedom than love,” he says. “If there is no independence there is no passion. So, ours is not a typical marriage.” And this is more so, because they have decided not to have any children. “I don’t think I will be a responsible parent,” says Abhilash, at a flat in Kochi, which he is sharing with the crew members of ‘22 Female Kottayam’. “I really don’t want to bring a child into this world when society is going to collapse one day.”
Asked what advice he would give a youngster who is about to tie the knot, Abhilash says, “Marriage is not natural. It is a creation of society to tie down individuals and not allow them to live the lives they want to. You are bound to get bored with a wife and vice-versa. That has been the experience of every spouse. You have to work hard to make the marriage a success.”
Abhilash pauses, smiles, and says, “Here is a tip: Men and women always see the world in different ways. If we understand that, a lot of stress and tension can be avoided.”