In December, 2007, Dr Ajilesh Chacko, while staying in Belfast, Ireland, received a marriage proposal from Girly Anto through an online matrimonial portal. He got interested and sent an e-mail. In the reply he was told that the girl is a cine artist. It took Ajilesh a Google check to realise that Girly was none other than the Malayalam actress Gopika.
Ajilesh and Gopika started talking on the phone. And since he was coming down to Kerala in January, 2008, he decided to meet her.
This happened on January 26 at Gopika’s home in Ollur, Thrissur. “She came across as a simple and down-to-earth person,” says Ajilesh. But what surprised him was that Gopika was smaller and younger than what she looked on screen. At their meeting, the actress was wearing the traditional blouse and paavada. “We talked about our lives, hopes, and priorities,” says Ajilesh. In the end there was a mutual liking and both said yes to the marriage.
The wedding took place on July 17 at the Mar Thoma Church in Kothamangalam. Later, for the honeymoon, the couple flew to Paris. “We went to the Eiffel Tower,” says Ajilesh. “It is the most beautiful place to be in Paris. It was also great doing a boat cruise on the River Seine, and sitting on the river bank in the evenings.”
Asked whether he exchanged a moonlight kiss with Gopika, in the city of romance, Ajilesh laughs and says, “Although we were in France, we did not see many people doing French kisses.”
The couple settled in Belfast to a sedate life. “Gopika is probably the best wife I could have asked for,” says Ajilesh. “When it comes to looking after me, she becomes the typical Kerala housewife. She is understanding, caring, and does not make a fuss over anything. She is very patient. I tend to lose my temper very easily. But I cannot recall her ever shouting back at me.”
Ajilesh, a general practitioner, was especially happy when Gopika learnt to drive a car. “She does all the shopping on her own,” he says. “So I don’t have to worry about this. I come back from work and see that everything is laid out for me on the table. As a result, we have plenty of time to spend with each other.”
They also spend a lot of time with Ajilesh’s Malayali acquaintances. “My friends were very excited when they heard that I was marrying Gopika,” he says. “They took some time to believe that I was actually marrying her. But they felt comfortable once they started interacting with her.”
Asked about Gopika’s negative points, Ajilesh says, “When we fight, she can be stubborn.”
On weekends, they would watch Gopika’s movies. “When I see her on the screen I feel proud,” he says. “Sometimes, I do criticise her performance.”
Ajilesh also felt proud when Gopika gave birth to their daughter, Amy, on April 14, 2010 at Belfast. “It was the happiest moment of my life,” he says. “Gopika is a good mother. She loves Amy to bits, but is stricter than I would have thought. It is not a bad thing, because I am probably more relaxed than what I should be. You need one parent to be strict.”
And Ajilesh is also relaxed about Gopika having an acting career. After her marriage, she had acted in ‘Swantham Lekhakan’, with superstar Dileep in 2009. “I don’t have any problems of her acting,” says Ajilesh. “The only issue is because I live in Brisbane, where I have just moved, a month ago, and she is in Kerala we have to be in two different geographical locations. And that creates a problem. Because we don’t like to stay away from each other for long. That is the real hindrance for her acting in more films. In ‘Swantham Lekhakan’, the duration of the shooting was only two weeks.”
Gopika is now acting in ‘Bharya Athra Pora’, which is being produced by the same team which made the 2008 superhit, ‘Veruthe Oru Bharya’. “The producer and the director said they would finish her portion of the shooting in 20 days and the location is only ten minutes from her home in Ollur,” says Ajilesh.
Asked for tips for a successful marriage, Ajilesh says, “Before you get married ensure that both of you are ready for it. Also, make sure you know the person well before you tie the knot. Married life is entirely different to what you are used to. But if you are sensible, understanding, and love the other person, it will be smooth.”