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`I bully you a lot more now'

It's a man's world out there. — Sarath Kumar

Sarath Kumar and Radhika. Famous film stars. Influential individuals. But above all, a couple who dote on each other, as S. R. Ashok Kumar finds out.

Sarath Kumar: I was your friend when we worked together in "Kargil." Now, I am your husband. Do you see any difference in my personality, then and now?

Radhika: No. Essentially, you are the same person. As a friend, you were caring. And now as husband, you are only more so. (Laughing) The only difference I see now is that I bully you a lot more than I used to as a friend. (After a thoughtful pause) I notice that you do get angry now and then, but not with me.

Sarath Kumar: Doesn't my anger have a purpose?

Radhika: I give it to you. Even when you are angry, you are reasonable because if you are offered a valid explanation, you calm down.

Sarath Kumar: But, you too get very angry at times.

Radhika: (Her eyebrows go up) Me?

Sarath Kumar: (A bit defensively) I would say you often display a sort of righteous indignation. You can be scalding hot one moment, and melt like ice, the very next.

Radhika: If I were to describe you in a few words, I would settle for the expression "crisis management man." You remember, during a show in London the music system conked out? I got jittery and could not think of a way out, but you quickly got down to remedying the situation, quietly and efficiently. You sought help from the right people and, in a short while, the music system was repaired!

Sarath Kumar: You have worked with thespians such as Sivaji Ganesan and Nageswara Rao and now you are working with the latest crop of promising stars. So, you are in a position to compare two different periods...

Radhika: I have learnt a lot from the stars of yesteryear. N. T. Rama Rao epitomised commitment. Nageswara Rao was a paragon of self-restraint. To keep himself in fine trim, he would steer clear of rich food. Sivaji would make it to the location, on the dot. But, please do not get me wrong. I am not eulogising the past at the cost of the present. The (film) industry is certainly not what it used to be. It has changed. After all, progress entails change. But this change has been salutary as it responds to contemporary needs and tastes. (With the expression of someone who has suddenly remembered something) Hey, why did you have to act in the nude (in a scene) in "Aei"?

Sarath Kumar: The scene warrants nudity. When a prisoner is being tortured, he is normally left only with an undergarment, mainly to prevent him from committing suicide (by using his shirt or trousers to hang himself). In "Aei", this guy, who is lodged in prison, is tortured in the most cruel manner and to drive home the horror of the situation, he appears in the nude.

Radhika: (With mischief in her eyes) Shedding one's clothes during summer can be very comfortable, but acting in the nude is anything but comfortable. Am I right?

Sarath Kumar: I had no problem as the scene was subtly filmed. There was nothing vulgar about it.

Radhika: (Looking pointedly at him) Come to think of it, you are the first Rajya Sabha member to have acted in the nude.

Sarath Kumar: You sound like a political reporter. Yes, your observation is right. But outside of the MPs' circle, I will be just one of many who has acted in the nude. Actors in Hollywood have made a habit of it. Here, Kamal Hassan and Arjun have done it.

(This Take Two took place days before the bundle of joy arrived at the couple's house. And predictably, the conversation revolved around the new arrival. This led the couple to raise a few serious questions. )

Radhika: Why do you men fight shy of expressing feelings like love and affection?

Sarath Kumar: Men are as open as women to finer sentiments such as love and affection. But, you must realise that men and women are tuned differently. And there lies the reason for the difference in the way they deal with these emotions.

Radhika: But I think men should learn to express their emotions.

Sarath Kumar: It is a man's world out there. And we men do not have the luxury of staying at home and giving expression to our feelings.

Radhika: What? Man's world? If this is a man's world, are we women just visitors?

Sarath Kumar: I do not have an answer to that (question). But is it not true that our culture reminds us time and again that we are living in a man's world?

Radhika: (Assuming a serious tone) I object to this sexist statement.

Sarath Kumar: You have just heard half of what I have to say. Though it is a man's world, women are today playing a big role in it.

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