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We are family

What happens when an intensely private celebrity couple sit down for a rare chat on life together? A memorable t2 tryst with Sourav Ganguly and Dona Ganguly. Read on and decide whose footwork is better!

Let’s rewind to the very beginning. Do you remember when you first saw each other?

Dona: No, not really! He was my neighbour…

Sourav: Baap re! You are asking 20-year-old questions…

Dona: More than that actually… (on coaxing) maybe when I was in my teens, I came to know that okay this guy lives next door.

Sourav: I saw her grow up, actually. It was just like somebody you see every day.

How did the romance happen?

Dona: It happened gradually… over the years!

Can you recall your first date/ movie/ meal together?

Dona: Yes, I can remember our first meal. It was at Mandarin, near the Dhakuria Lakes. Now also, we wonder sometimes whether we should go for a meal there.... He was young then. We ordered two (plates of) fried rice, two (plates of) chowmein, two (plates of) chilli chicken… he ate most of it! Aami mone mone bhabchhilam koto khaye (I was thinking he eats so much)!

Sourav: I remember that! I have always been a good eater. She was 17. I was 23, I think.

Dona: He was in college then.

When did you know you wanted to get married? Who proposed, when and where?

Dona: It happened gradually… it was both ways.

Sourav: These are too personal…

Dona: And quite embarrassing… aar Sana porbey (Sana will read this)...

Sourav: Haan Sana is going to read… no, no, no… I cannot remember.

What was the reaction within the family?

Sourav: They were a bit upset, but then it was okay… it happens with everyone…

What do you remember from your wedding day?

Dona: I remember he had just come back from his South African tour. And on the day of our aiburo bhaat [maiden rice], we were making trips to the visa office. The day after was our wedding. We left for the West Indies trip a day later. He was facing (Curtly) Ambrose and (Courtney) Walsh… it was his first tour to the West Indies… so he was quite nervous.

Sourav: It was a proper Bengali marriage… like any other…

Dona: I remember another incident… he was shadow-practising in his room. And when he came down, all the players were teasing him saying, “You have just got married and you are shadow-practising”! We met Ambrose, Walsh and (Ian) Bishop near the lift and he asked me, “Do you want a photograph with them?” I was half their size!

Take us through your memories of the day Sana was born. Who named her Sana and why?

Sourav: I was in South Africa.... But it was great, Sana is the best thing to have happened! One of my friends named her Sana. It is the first word of the Quran. Sana is a very special memory.... I saw it on the Internet. I was supposed to come back, but then we lost the first Test. There was a gap between the first Test and the second and I had taken permission to come back. But then we lost. So, she (Dona) said, “You don’t need to come. Everything is fine. Stay back.” So, I stayed back. I saw Sana after 21 days.

Dona: Sana means praise of god. Somehow they insisted that her name had to start with an ‘S’. So among all the names like Sangita, Souravi, Souradipta… we thought Sana was a smarter name.

Fourteen years into the marriage, what is the best/worst thing about Sourav the husband and Dona the wife?

Sourav: Hmm… she doesn’t bother me much.

Dona: (The best thing about him is) He bothers me a lot! That is also the worst thing.

Sourav: I try and make her disciplined.

Dona: I am quite disciplined!

Dona, what’s the toughest part of being a cricketer’s wife?

It is not really tough. I have been married for 14 years now. He was at his peak when he was the captain. I used to travel with him quite a lot… for Test matches. One-Days are too hectic. Till the time Sana started going to school, we travelled with him. Also if you are in England for a month, you tend to get a little bored. And I am not such a keen follower of cricket. So, after a month, I used to come back. Maybe we have missed one or two tours…

Sourav, is it tough being married to someone who is more passionate about dance than cricket?

Sourav: No… no!

Dona: It’s good. Cricket niye kichhu lecture diyina. If he performs well, I tell him you played well. Baaje hole kichhu boli na (If he’s played badly then I don’t say anything).

Dona, do you follow his cricket more than he follows your dance?

Dona: Yes! I follow a lot of cricket, much more than he follows dance.

Sourav: She follows… I don’t follow dance that much…

Dona: Ektu adhtu (A bit)...

Sourav: I don’t understand it.

Dona: He himself volunteered to do the voiceover in Chitrangada [Sourav did the voiceover for Arjun and a bit of the narration in the Hindi adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s dance drama staged by Dona’s dance school Diksha Manjari earlier this month at Kala Mandir. Dona played Chitrangada and Sana played a deer]. That was a sweet and nice gesture.

Sourav: She still needs to pay me!

Dona: No… he did not do it for payment… he did for a big thank you!

Dona, have you ever had a problem with Sourav’s female fan following?

Dona: That, I am used to. He being so handsome… I am sure female fans will follow him.

Sourav: Good!

Dona: I am bothered, but not that much. I know that has a limit.

Sourav, do you have a problem about the spotlight being on Dona the dancer now?

I have got no problems!

What has been the best/worst phase of your lives together?

Sourav: It’s been pretty stable… nothing’s gone high or low… probably (the worst phase) when I was dropped in 2005… I used to get angry… because I was not dropped for the right reasons… for false reasons, I was left out. Then you read all sorts of things in the newspapers which were not true… so, I used to get very angry… I used to get very upset… it was probably a difficult phase. But then, these things happen.

Dona: But I think that was the best phase also. After that phase, he has matured a lot.... I never told him to leave cricket.

Sourav: I would not have listened to anyone!

Dona: He was keen on coming back. So why should I tell him to quit?

Sourav: And I was just 33. I shouldn’t have left cricket... even now...

Dona: Rahul (Dravid) and Sachin (Tendulkar) are still playing…

Sourav: I shouldn’t have left cricket now also…

Who is the boss in the relationship?

(Dona points towards Sourav)

Sourav: No, I am not the boss…

Dona: No, either gently or aggressively, motamuti amake diye kaajta koriye nyay (he has his way). So, he’s the boss.

Sourav: I am pretty cool about life. I am too busy with work. Actually, I do too many things. When I get time off, I am busy spending time with Sana… I am a pretty disciplined, non-complicated person…

Dona: But he makes me do whatever he wants to.

Sourav: I don’t have a high-flying lifestyle. I don’t party. I don’t go anywhere else. I go to work… come back home… I have a few friends…. I spend time with Sana… with cousins… that’s my life. I don’t enjoy the rest of the things like going out and socialising… I don’t.

Dona: So, even my life has become like that.

How would you describe Sana’s relationship with you individually as mom and dad and collectively as parents?

Sourav: Sana… Sana rules! I can do anything for Sana.

Dona: Any dad and mom will do anything for their child.

Sourav: If she doesn’t do her homework, I do her homework and tell Mummy that she has done it!

Dona: I don’t get to know that though! I spend solid time with Sana.

Sourav: She doesn’t want to study. I call up her teachers and say, “Aajke chhere din (Please excuse her today)”.

Dona: That’s not the right thing… who will write the test the next day? I am the strict one with Sana. But I take her to school every day and get her back. She takes up half of my time. He feels that half of my time goes because of dance, but actually, no… half of my time goes because of Sana.

Sourav: (When together)… it is timepass… TV, Sana, movies…

Dona: That day we went for Rockstar… all three of us.

What dreams do you have for her?

Dona: Whatever she wants to do…

Sourav: I want her to study.

Dona: He wants her to become a lawyer, actually.

Sourav: Whatever… a profession which has values. I don’t want her to take up sports. Women’s sport has got no future in India.

Dona: But she is very athletic.

Sourav: Yes… but I don’t want her to (go into sports). If it’s a boy, it’s fine… but I want her to study.

What dreams do you have for each other?

Dona: Nothing! It’s already fulfilled. His dream is that I should leave dance. (Laughs) I think that is his dream. Barite boshe thakbo (I will stay put at home)… and he has already left cricket… so I don’t dream about it!

Sourav: No… no…I don’t think it is about dreams. It is about spending life together.

S l o g     o v e r s

Rate the following (on 10)

To Dona

Sourav the batsman: 9/9.5

Sourav the captain: 9/9.5

Sourav the boyfriend: 9/9.5

Sourav the husband: Not very good… 6! (Sourav chuckles.)

Sourav the parent: 7/8

To Sourav

Dona the dancer: (Dona: He hasn’t seen much of my dance)… 8

Dona the girlfriend: (Dona: I was sweet then!) 6… (Dona: I was sweet then! You told me I was good!)… Aachha, 8.

Dona the wife: Minus 2 (Dona: Baaje katha bolbe na!)… 7

Dona the parent: 10 (Dona: SeeI am so good with Sana!)

To Dona & Sourav

Describe in one word

Cricket

Dona: My husband’s first love.

Sourav: Best sport for me.

Dance

Dona: My passion.

Sourav: (Dona: Irritation) (Laughs) Her passion.

Sourav

Dona: My husband.

Dona

Sourav: My wife!

Sachin Tendulkar

Dona: A legend.

Sourav: The greatest.

Greg Chappell

Dona: No comments.

Sourav: Mad!

Eden Gardens

Dona: Great venue… great place.

Sourav: Best ground.

Favourites:

Actor and actress

Dona: Hrithik Roshan and Sridevi.

Sourav: Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor.

Movie

Dona: 3 Idiots.

Sourav: 3 Idiots.

Cricketer

Dona: Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar.

Sourav: Sachin Tendulkar.

Footballer

Dona: Diego Maradona.

Sourav: Diego Maradona.

Food dish at home

Dona: Chicken curry.

Sourav: Posto.

Restaurant in Calcutta

Dona: Baan Thai.

Sourav: Baan Thai.

Street food in Calcutta

Dona: Phuchka.

Sourav: Phuchka.

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