Dini saw the actor Kalabhavan Shajohn in late 2003 when she was doing dance rehearsals at a hotel in Kochi. It was in preparation for a 45-day programme in the Middle East called Comedy Cousins. Shajohn was doing a mimicry act. However, for one segment, Dini and Shajohn did a dance duet together. “We performed to a song by Kalabhavan Mani,” says Dini
Later, during a bus trip in Sallalah, Oman, they were sitting next to each other. Shajohn said, “I would like to marry you.”
Dini, who liked Shajohn, said, “I don’t have a problem provided my parents agree.”
Ater they returned to Kochi in January, 2004, Shajohn met Dini’s parents in Thrissur. Later, his parents also met Dini’s father and mother. They agreed and the marriage took place on October 28, 2004, at Shajohn’s hometown of Kottayam. The couple did not go for a honeymoon, but in December, they went for a programme in the Middle East. “That was a sort of honeymoon for us,” she says. “And on Valentine’s Day, when we were in Dubai, Shajohn brought me a gold ring. That was very exciting for me. This was the first gift I received from Shajohn. I have never forgotten it.”
Dini will also never forget the critical and popular reception for the blockbuster hit, Drishyam in which Shajohn plays the brutal cop, Sahadevan, with aplomb.
After the first show, Shajohn was getting calls every two minutes by fans praising his performance. “He would give me one part of the earphone so that I could listen to what the people were saying,” says Dini at their Kochi-based flat. “While the fans praised him, some of them said, jokingly, ‘Please don’t come to our area, otherwise, we might have to beat you up.’”
A couple of days later, superstar Mohanlal, who played the hero, called and complimented Shajohn on his acting. Then Mammooty called. “It was Mammooty sir who had suggested Shajohn’s name to the director, Jeethu Joseph,” says Dini.
One night, they took the children, Hannah, 8, and Yohan, 4, to see the film at the Gold Souk Grande. While Yohan slept throughout, Hannah saw it with wide-open eyes. After the show, Dini told Hannah that Shajohn will now hit her like he did a young girl in the film. Hannah smiled and said, “Appa was just acting.”
Both the children love to see the films of Shajohn. “They keep watching My Boss [in which Shajohn had a meaty role] and have memorised all the dialogues,” says Dini. “If they hear their father’s voice on TV, they will stop whatever they are doing and come and see the scene.”
The children miss Shajohn a lot when he is on location. “As soon as he returns they will insist that he bathes and feed them,” says Dini. “Sometimes, he entertains them by doing a mimicry of some of the actors. He does a perfect impersonation of Kalabhavan Mani.”
Dini says that Shajohn is always there to support her. “I give painting classes and he encourages me,” says Dini. “Shajohn has given me a lot of freedom. And I like that about him. He knows how to maintain friendships. If somebody does something he does not like, he will remain silent.”
But, like most artists, his negative point at home is that he gets angry quickly. “It may be on the most trivial of matters,” says Dini. “If something is not kept at its proper place in the house he gets upset.”
Shajohn was also upset when a few months after their marriage Dini was wrongly diagnosed as having tonsillitis when it was actually intestinal typhoid. She was in hospital for a month. “My heart felt heavy to see the tension on Shajohn’s face,” she says. “In the end, by the grace of God, I was cured.”
On a day when there is no shooting, Shajohn gets up at 7.30 a.m. Then he has a cup of tea, and reads the newspaper from end to end. After his breakfast at 10 a.m., he goes to a nearby flat where he is writing a script with scriptwriter Kalabhavan Prajod. “He will write for some time,” says Dini. “Or somebody will come to tell a story for a role he could take.” Then Shajohn comes home for lunch. Following that he will sleep for a while. “In the evening, he will watch TV, or see new films on the CD, or take the family out for an outing,” says Dini
Meanwhile, when asked for tips for a successful marriage, Dini says, “We must understand the work pressures of the husband. He might come late. He might not be able to look after the house, or spend time with the children. Don’t nag him about all this. In case there are problems between the spouses, it should be solved by them, inside the bedroom, and not by outsiders. Husband and wife should never fight in front of the children. The success of a marriage is based on mutual adjustments.”