Long-lasting love

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

It was love at first sight. And though it happened before the cameras, the love lasted beyond the glare of arclights. Twenty-four years after their marriage, Sandalwood star
Devaraj and his wife, one-time actress Chandralekha, are still passionate when it comes to how they hit it out.

Chandralekha candidly admits she joined the tinsel town with the sole intention of getting close to him. And even as the Kannada filmdom was sitting up and taking notice of the new star with great looks, the inevitable had happened. Devaraj, an emerging actor then, admits that he was bowled over by her beauty. What still keeps the couple's love alive are the memories of their courtship when both were budding stars.

Actually, Devaraj and Chandralekha were to be brought face to face in the movie Sikku. The movie did not happen, but Cupid had struck and the two of them began seeing each other. “I was charmed by the very good looking young man and his simplicity really caught my attention. Once we were married I quit the industry,” Chandralekha told Metrolife.

Devaraj says he was attracted by her honesty and sincerity. “She was a natural beauty and that coupled with the wonderful human being that she was made for our perfect match,” says Devaraj and adds, “our first public appearance together was when I took
Chandralekha to the preview of my first film 27 Malavali Circle. I still remember the curious glances we got. A couple of our close friends knew we were seeing each other but people must have wondered what the two of us were doing together,” he laughs.  

Chandralekha recollects how she caught an auto one day to watch Devaraj enact in a play. “My saree got caught in the wheel of the auto. It was a narrow escape but I somehow managed to reach in time to catch his play,” she beams. Devaraj would drive from Lingarajpuram where he lived right up to Chandralekha's house in Chamarajpet to meet her.

No marriage is without its pitfalls and ups and downs but Devaraj and Chandralekha owe their smooth sailing wedded life to mutual compromises and meaningful sacrifice that they say both of them have made.  “Everything won’t happen as you want it to. You have to make it happen,” says Devaraj. Chandralekha quickly pitches in saying, “he has taught me tremendous amount of patience.”  

So has the concept of love changed? “I think love among the young is more refined today than it was during our time. Earlier you would not say anything that would hurt your loved one. Today sacrifices are a lot lesser and kids are more straightforward and open. If they don't like something it is said on the face."

Devaraj and Chandralekha are two people in no hurry. They take things as it comes and say they were never eager to accumulate and hoard anything including wealth, property and fame. The couple owe their down-to-earth attitude to their simple background and their belief taking one moment at a time. “I came from a theatre background and I had to work really hard to establish myself as an actor. My wife managed the kids as they grew up, their education and the house, while I set about my work and I owe my success to the support I got from my family,” Devaraj says.

The couple has two sons — Prajwal and Pranam. Prajwal is a popular face in the Kannada film industry and Pranam who has just completed studies also wishes to get into the film stream.

Devaraj never wanted his sons to take a hasty decision to join the film industry. “I always wanted the boys to complete their education first before they ventured out into the films. They’ve been taught to lead a simple life free of materialistic things,” says Devaraj.

Chandralekha recalls that she would accompany Prajwal on the first days of his shoot just to make sure he was comfortable and didn’t feel lost.  Prajwal and Pranam say that coming from a family of film stars has definitely been advantageous but they have never let the stardom get to them. The boys love every one of their father’s films and say that Huliya is especially very close to their heart.  “It’s such an emotional overpowering film that I have till date never gathered enough wits to sit through the full film. I would cry,” says Pranam.

Prajwal pitches in saying that some day he wishes to essay the same role that his dad played in Huliya.  “I am still learning and I must say that I have secretly tried to be like my dad. Even if someone says that I am as good as my dad I am content,” says Prajwal.

The boys say they have been taught one thing by their father: “life is like a mirror. If you smile it will smile back and if you frown it will frown back as well,” we’ve been following that in word and spirit."

The family sticks to a simple diet, “Devaraj has in so many years never told me even once that there is a particular thing he likes. He eats whatever that’s made. No fussing and no demands,” says Chandralekha. The family takes off on a vacation to Goa pretty often. They swear by the beaches and the food. Malaysia is among their favourite international holiday spots.

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