THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In 2006, journalist Sreevalsan Menon was working in Mumbai for a leading Malayalam media group. For the woman’s magazine, he had to co-ordinate a fashion shoot with actress Shwetha Menon. So he called up Shwetha, they got talking, and on the day of the shoot, Sreevalsan picked her up from her home. “My initial impression was that Shwetha was relaxed, funny, and humourous,” says Sreevalsan. “She laughed a lot. Basically, she was a lively person.”
Sreevalsan did an interview with Shwetha, although he did not know anything about the Malayalam film industry or what she was doing there. “But she patiently told me about her career,” he says. They met briefly again when the media group invited Shwetha as a chief guest for the Onam celebrations at a function in Matunga, Mumbai. Thereafter they went out of touch.
A couple of months later, Sreevalsan received a call. A woman started chatting animatedly. “I heard her for two minutes, and then said, ‘Who’s this?’” he says. “And that was it. Shwetha was so furious that I had not saved her number. She told me, ‘When we met, you spoke so nicely. But this is not the way to behave.’”
Sreevalsan apologised and said that he had lost his old mobile and as a result did not have her number. Thereafter, they started exchanging SMSs and began speaking to each other on the phone. “We met a few times,” says Sreevalsan, who is the grandson of the noted poet Vallathol Narayana Menon. Slowly, the relationship developed.
Finally, in January, 2011, Sreevalsan proposed. And his reasons were simple. “We had a lot in common,” he says. “We are both Taureans. We rarely get angry but when we do, it can be explosive. And we are homebodies.”
Shwetha accepted and they tied the knot on June 18, 2011, at Shwetha’s ancestral home in Valancherry, Malappuram. And he discovered new traits after marriage. “Shwetha is very organized, and systematic,” he says. “And when there is a crisis, she has the confidence to tackle it. This might be because she is an only child.”
Of course, it is an unusual marriage, because they spend a lot of time apart. While Sreevalsan is the Vice President of Institutional Research of the Mumbai-based Edelweiss Financial Services Limited, Shwetha is busy with her career as an actress in the Malayalam film industry. “Recently, she went for an American tour and I did not see her for three months,” he says. “But when she is in Kerala, I make it a point to come once in every three weeks.”
When he is in God’s Own Country, he is mostly identified as ‘Shwetha Menon’s husband’. “I don’t have any insecurities about that,” he says. “In fact, I feel nice to know that my wife is famous.” However, the couple made a decision not to appear in the limelight together. “I feel she should enjoy the spotlight on her own,” says Sreevalsan.
Meanwhile, on most Saturday mornings, which is Sreevalsan’s off-day, Swetha will wake him up with a telephone call. “She will ask me to go to the gym,” he says. “Shwetha will then speak to the maid about what vegetables to buy and what food to make for me.” Thereafter, she will call in the afternoon, and a couple of times in the evening.
When they are together in Mumbai, they spend their free time by going out for dinner or watching movies. “Funnily enough, we usually discuss the films that I like,” he says. “One of my favourite actors is George Clooney and we analysed his performance in ‘The Descendants’.” Clooney, unfortunately, missed out on the Oscar Awards Best Actor category, which was won by Frenchman Jean Dujardin for ‘The Artist’.
Meanwhile, when Sreevalsan has to make career decisions, he will confide in his wife. “Shwetha will calmly dissect the issue and state the long-term benefits and the short-term problems,” he says. “Her advice is very helpful.” And even though it is early days in the marriage, Sreevalsan is happy. “Swetha does not give me any stress,” he says. “I enjoy being in her company.”