On the off-side there is God and then there is Sourav. Rahul Dravids tribute to our favourite Calcuttan explains why he can play the perfect square drive even with a steel bar. From the moment he leant into his cover drive at Lords in the summer of 96, he has been the citys biggest hero. And trust Dada to choose the first year of t2 to stroke his way to a dream comeback. Dropped and humiliated and asked to go back to first-class cricket and prove that he still had cricket left in him, the Royal Bengal Tiger roared again. And how! Guru Gregs will come and go, but Maharaj rules forever. He made it to the cover of the first edition of t2 — on February 2, 2007, in the company of Bong bombshell Bipasha Basu — and here he is finding pride of place as our best-loved Calcuttan. And the second year of t2 holds out the promise of our favourite Calcuttan forging a star-studded partnership with our favourite Mumbai man (Shah Rukh Khan of course!). Yes, time for us to say: Khel abhi baaki hai mere dost!
She’s the chosen one. What with her grandmother’s grace and her mom’s charm. The elder granddaughter of Suchitra Sen came into her own soon after t2 was born — oozing a girlish charm while flirting with Shayan Munshi (The Bong Connection) or sparkling with an understated sensuousness with Rahul Bose (Anuranan). All this while, Raima was flying high in Bollywood after her paragliding stint in Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd. Our Tollywood main men are now dying to romance Raima (on screen), but only the best of roles (and the lure of spending time with “Amma”) can bring Moon Moon’s first-born back to Ballygunge. This year, watch out for Raima’s widow-with-a-son act alongside Rahul Bose in Aparna Sen’s The Japanese Wife. The 27-year-old who was once the shy, timid Ashalata in Chokher Bali is our favourite actress, not only for what she’s done but also for what we hope she will do. “Wow! It feels great to be acknowledged for your work back home,” Raima told t2 from Mumbai.
Whocan chase goons posing as a National Geographic photographer and retrieve a stolen artefact from the Ellora caves? Who can slip into the shoes of Feluda and stump us with his sleuthing skills? Who can roam the wild, capture his experiences on camera and spin off a popular travel column? Sabyasachi Chakraborty is the man for us — as he is for director Sandip Ray — with his unconventional looks and razor-sharp mind. We loved his piercing gaze, salt-and-pepper hair and magnetic body language in Kailase Kelenkari. So did thousands of others, ensuring a six-week run (and counting) at the box office. Benuda (to friends and family) is our favourite actor (and not just because he has been a t2 columnist from the beginning of our journey!).
He’s the Pied Piper of Tollywood. The man who strums his guitar and sings ballads at Someplace Else at night and fiddles with his filmi ideas over Darjeeling tea at Flurys by day. Anjan Dutt had become a film-maker with Bada Din several winters ago. When the film bombed, the actor-singer started dialling 2441139 and crooning his heart out to Ranjana. But nothing could keep him away from the camera for too long, first for telefilms and then for two features. Both of these released in the first year of t2 — The Bong Connection marking the turning point for Bengali films at the plexes with a heady mix of tradition and trend, and then Bow Barracks Forever making us laugh and cry with a poignant tribute to the undying spirit of a crumbling Anglo-Indian community in a corner of Calcutta. To him goes the t2 title for favourite director.
Tumi ashbe boley tai
Aami swapno dekhe jai
Aar ekta kore din chole jaye...
When you talk of a band that rocks, you are looking at the effect it has on its audience. To witness that effect, be at a Fossils show.
Face it: a Fossils concert is an experience. Crowds in Calcutta hadn’t experienced confetti blasts, lasers, pyrotechnics and, at last count, a live fire right there on stage. Not till Fossils hit the big league and created a show ethic combining visual and aural elements for a real spectacle.
You have to be there to get the feel of what Rupam — truly the local rockstar — and his band of four do to the crowd. Rupam sings, talks, chides, laughs and cries with his audience. Hundreds sing along, light up their mobile phones and sway with him.
Even if you aren’t a part of this ‘fan’fare, it’s still a treat to watch the charismatic Fossils frontman emerge from the blue haze to a ballad like Hasnuhana. Or just stand up with a guitar and sing for a cause he believes in.
It’s not only because of its shows that Fossils is our favourite band in the city. Words are Rupam’s strength. Add to that a deep tenor and you just may have found the Fossils success formula.
Fossils released a full-on video album (with bloopers and all) that flew off the shelves, caused a mini-stampede on Park Street for the release of an album at MusicWorld, had three chart-topping albums (with another ready for release), and rocked Bangladesh last year...
Enough? Let’s say it with a song then...
Tobu shey to hridoyer nagorik,
Jaani habo taar rokte shorik,
Tai aanobik paromanobik,
Shob swapno sophol!
Tall iron gates open to reveal a small lawn that leads to a quaint old bungalow exuding old-world charm in every nook and cranny. Stark white walls, vintage wooden furniture, carved mirror frames and spiralling staircase in mahogany, spacious rooms dedicated to individual designers, and racks full of finery.... 85 Lansdowne is our favourite when it comes to the best-looking shop stop in town. And not just the first-of-its kind looks, we are also partial towards this design den because it introduced Calcutta to the designer shop-in-shop concept, housing everyone from Tarun Tahiliani to Manish Malhotra, Rahul Khanna to Rohit Gandhi under one roof.
“The look of the store is very special to us since our idea was to restore an old Bengali bungalow and turn it into a fashion store. We are happy that it turned out to be so gorgeous and we have been able to retain the old-Calcutta feel in the decor. We thank the city for appreciating the look so much,” smile co-proprietors Pooja Goenka and Shalini Nopani.
Bollywood actresses, leading models or industrialists’ wives; ask them to name their favourite designer and chances are the Calcutta boy’s name will keep popping up. He’s our favourite too, when it comes to the designer from the city. If for nothing else, for turning the fashion spotlight firmly on Calcutta. In the first year of t2, Sabyasachi has been visible at fashion weeks in the global style capitals of New York and London. Back home, he rocked the Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai last October, unveiling a stunning couture line. And then there was the wardrobe for Rani Mukerji’s Badki-Natasha combo in Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. Dabbling in mainstream fashion and films with equal elan, Sabya is a winner. (But we must admit that a few other designers ran him really close when we met to pick our toppers.) “I am very happy,” smiled Sabya, when told about being picked the t2 fave. “I haven’t won an award for some time; in fact, this is my first award of the year! And coming from my favourite newspaper, it’s even better.”
This was a tough one. Let’s face it, one thing you cannot accuse Calcutta men of being is traffic-stoppers. They come in unusual (polite synonym for bizarre) shapes and sizes, lacking in looks and grooming. After a heated debate — mainly over an over-the-hill sporting star and a coming-of-age Tolly star — Shayan shone through by a wafer-thin margin. The strapping 28-year-old, who had a brush with notoriety as a (hostile) witness in the Jessica Lal murder case, clawed his way back into the hearts of young Calcuttans with The Bong Connection. “He’s so cool! How could Raima possibly choose Param over Shayan,” cried girls going ga-ga over the ex-student of Calcutta International School. Having first made a mark on the ramp — local, national and international — Shayan made a delightful acting debut with Jhankaar Beats before being at the wrong place at the wrong time in the Jessica Lal tragedy.
Shayan was “shocked” and “surprised” when t2 broke the news. “Thank you, it’s an honour.... Good looks is of primary importance for a model but it is also a bonus for an actor.” His b’day message for t2? “Whenever I am in Calcutta, I just have to read The Telegraph. After a fill of politics and business, t2 is a great read. Very entertaining and informative.”
Well, the city surely doesn’t lack Bengali beauties on screens big and small. But after some deliberation — we must admit some of it bordered on the divisive — we chose model Shonal Rawat the best-looking girl from the city. The 26-year-old catwalker moved to Mumbai a few years ago and has been quite a towering presence on the national ramp. Those frizzy long locks, the sharp features, the wheatish skin tone and that lovely smile make her look gorgeous in swimsuits and saris. Add to that her 5-ft-11.5 frame, those long and shapely legs and 35-27-37 vital stats, and this Xaverian is a real stunner.
“I can’t believe that I have actually been chosen the most good-looking girl from the city…” an excited Shonal told t2 from Mumbai.
“I have lived in Bengal for so long and I consider Bengali women to be the most beautiful in all of India. I am so honoured that my looks have been considered on the same platform as them,” she added.
So what does the leggy lass pick as her strongest points? “My height, and also my junglee hair!”
BIGGEST success stories
What a success story! From the bylanes of Burrabazar to the palaces of Europe, from a studious boy in class no. 13 of St Xavier’s College to the richest Indian in the world, from a youth who got into trouble for dreaming big to the owner of the largest steel company on earth. Laxmi Niwas Mittal is as big as it gets. But what tilted the scales towards him as our favourite success story was the quality time he spent in town on January 19-20 — including 27 minutes as an old boy in Xaviers. He started out by taking the wheel to get a first-hand feel of the changing city. Mittal drove from the airport to Alipore — down Rajarhat, Park Circus and the flyover. He addressed a select gathering with “charm and a rare ability to laugh at himself” at Taj Bengal before taking a trip down memory lane through the corridors of his college and finally pledging business initiatives in Bengal during a chat with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at Writers’ Buildings. All in a day’s work for Mittal. He may or may not have found the time to read t2 but at least he picked up our big bro, Metro!
FromBallygunge to Bandra, John to Ronaldo, Bips is the most coveted Bong connection. The dusky girl of Mandeville Gardens has gone from ramps in town to red carpets around the world. After being crowned Ford supermodel, Bipasha smashed the myth that models can’t make it in the movies. First she made mouths gape with her khullam-khulla act in Jism, then silenced critics with her buttoned-up role in Corporate and finally became Bolly’s best bikini babe with her beach antics in Dhoom 2. She even managed to share the Wonders of the World stage with Sir Ben Kingsley and Hilary Swank, and then play ball with the artful dodger, Cristiano Ronaldo. But her off-screen Goal remained clear (despite a dribble here and a feint there): John Abraham. And the big Bips bonus on our first birthday? Even as you read this, she is in sari and teep, romancing Santiniketan and our city for her first Bengali film (Rituparno Ghosh’s Shob Charitra Kalponik)!