Ramendra Kumar appears frequently on these pages as a contributor. We talked to him about his novel, Mohini, and about his take on love, marriage and relationships.
You have written a novel on the film industry that focuses on relationships. What lessons does it offer?
Mohini is a story of a young girl growing up in the backwaters of Bollywood who nurses a burning desire to become the number one star in the industry. There are two men in her life who love her to absolute distraction. Each in his own way helps her reach the zenith of fame and success. One she betrays and the other she rejects. Both unleash vengeance and in a strange quirk of serendipity are pitted against each other as the novel hurtles to a climax…
Mohini underlines that it is not unbridled manipulation, naked ambition or overpowering obsession that can bring happiness. Joy and contentment in a relationship can come from a simple, yet all-powerful four-letter word called Love.
What do you think are the biggest mistakes urban couples are making in present day relationships?
Urban couples today are too self-centred – obsessed with their career and growth. They are caught in their universe of I, Me and Myself. They neither have the time nor the inclination to nurture and nourish relationships. Most relationships are a matter of convenience – with love, respect and understanding fading into oblivion.
One unbreakable marriage rule?
To rephrase Vidya Balan’s dialogue in The Dirty Picture: Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Do not allow the ‘violence of silence’ to destroy your marriage.
Related reading: Communication mistakes couples make
How is the urban Indian male keeping up with relationships with the liberated woman of the present times?
The urban Indian male is in a state of complete bewilderment. Fed on a diet of patriarchal mores, he isn’t able to come to terms with the strong, independent woman of today who has a mind of her own and is ever so willing to express it. He wants to be the ‘complete man’ of the Raymonds ad, but unfortunately he is more the confused male who is caught clutching the apron strings of his ‘mummy’ while making desperate attempts at keeping pace with his partner who is taking decisive strides in every field. His intentions in most cases are honest and brave. He wants to treat his wife as an equal in the truest sense. But sooner rather than later his fragile ego raises its ugly head and the fissures in the relationship begin to develop.
You have shared with Bonobology that you enjoy the art and craft of a harmless, yet enjoyable indulgence that’s flirting. Do you believe flirting with someone other than your spouse adds spice to the marriage? And why?
When I am flirting with someone I am basically telling the lady that she is charming, attractive and a lot of fun to converse with. And if she is responding to my flirtation then in a way she is reciprocating my feelings. A bit of chutzpah and a lot of humour is all that flirting is about. I feel it is a great recipe to add zing to your marriage. Of course, one should ensure that the line of propriety is not crossed.
Related reading: Here’s how to flirt when you’re already married
You have shared how your differences as a couple make your marriage a success. What are the core values that should be similar in a couple for a healthy relationship?
Respect and Trust. Above all the partners should be friends first and foremost – if Madhavi wasn’t my best friend our marriage wouldn’t have lasted 29 years.
Looking back, what were the mistakes that have made you wiser about love and relationships?
I come from a broken home. My parents were separated when I was 14 and my mother left home with another man. After my marriage I continued to bear the scars of insecurity. I was extremely possessive and protective about Madhavi. I dictated what she wore and who she socialised with. Almost every fight we had was courtesy my insecurity. Thanks to her infinite patience, tolerance and empathy she could counsel me into shedding the yoke of paranoia I was carrying. I have since realised that love is not only about music and poetry, love making and serenading, it is also all about trust and giving space to each other.