The first few years are the foundation of a marriage – RJ Darius and Arati Sunawala


Darius Sunawala is one of Bangalore’s most popular RJs. After working with All India Radio and Radio City 91 FM, he is now the programming director for Fever 104 FM. His wife is the incredibly talented Arati Punwani Sunawala, director of the Tarantismo Creative Dance Company. They tell us about their journey from friendship to marriage and more

How did you meet?

Arati: We were auditioning for the same play in 2000. Darius was already very popular as a talented young actor and I was starry eyed about him. He was the centre of attention during the audition. I noticed how he was always ready for a good laugh, especially at himself.

Darius: I did not know Arati at all before the audition. But as clichéd as it may sound, the moment I saw her, I thought she was the most attractive person in the room. I instantly started flirting with her. But the next day was her birthday and she was turning 17. I was 21 then. I couldn’t date a 17-year-old! So I waited for a whole year and then asked her out on her 18th birthday. And since I am the first guy Arati dated, she has no frame of reference and thinks I’m a wonderful person.

Arati: Oh, he actually stalked me that one year. Wherever I went, he used to come. Every audition, every play I went to, he would be there. I remember thinking, “Is it possible that Darius likes me?” I was so excited!

Who proposed and how?

A: Darius took me out on a picnic to this mountaintop overlooking the Nilgiris. He brought champagne, fruits, cheese and everything. Then he took out the ring and proposed. It was beautiful.

D: Oh, I had a plan. I took her to the top of the mountain and proposed, saying, “Will you marry me or do you want to be left alone in this jungle?” She had no choice but to say yes. I conned her into this marriage.

How do you support each other professionally?

A: When you are together for so long, you know each other really well and you are there when they need you the most. Darius has been an integral part of all my shows. In fact, he coined the name ‘Tarantismo’ for my dance company.

D: When I worked for Radio City, Arati was my first producer. She’d find such interesting topics for me to talk about during the show. We enjoy each other’s interactions within our professional spaces.

From dating to now, how have you changed?

D: Something that we both had then but what is missing now is ‘Idealism’. When you are young and in love, you believe that you can own and change the world. Nothing intimidates you. But with time, that slowly decreases.

A: As the relationship progresses, you grow and you see your spouse take on more responsibilities. You can no longer indulge in being goofy and flaky all day long.

What drives you crazy about the other?

A: Darius is crazy neat. Everything has a place and once you use it, it should be back in its place. So I try as much as possible to keep things in their place, but yet….

D: She’s not a messy person, just not as organised as I am. For example, I could never find the scissors when I needed them. So now we have multiple pairs of scissors in our house: one in the bedroom, one in the kitchen, one for the garden. That way, some things, if not all, are in their place.

What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

A: Becoming parents. It is a completely new experience and nothing can prepare you for it. Parenthood changes your approach to life; there are more responsibilities. The first year and a half are crucial. We put too much pressure on ourselves, had very high expectations and were falling short. So that made us insecure. But once we relaxed our rules and looked at it from a different perspective, we really enjoyed ourselves and watching our son grow has been the best time we have ever had.

D: For every couple, communication is the key to a healthy relationship. And for that, you need to make time for each other.

The first 3-4 years are the foundation of a marriage. If you invest in building positive experiences, you will have a strong foundation to lean on later in your life when the winds shift and the relationship gets shaky.

What is the most memorable gift you have given each other?

D: Arati is a phenomenal gift giver. One gift that is very close to my heart is a video montage she made of people close to me, from my nursery school teachers to my friends. This was before smartphones, so she had to meet every person, record them on a handycam, come back home and edit it using computer software. She put in so much hard work and we still watch it even today.

A: When I staged my first program, everything was new to me – right from booking an auditorium to setting up the event. One guy even tried to con me about hiring a platform. Seeing how stressed I was, Darius took a week off from work and took care of everything. He used to attend every meeting and rehearsal and that took a big weight off me.

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