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Actress wife for Subhas son

- Agnipariksha star is now daughter-in-law of late sports minister, shifts to Salt Lake

If Rai of the popular Bengali serial Agnipariksha has gone missing in the current track on Zee Bangla, it is because she has made an entry into a Salt Lake home. Sarbani Haldar, the 24-year-old actress, has become the daughter-in-law of late sports minister Subhas Chakraborty.

Chakraborty’s only son Anubhav got married to Sarbani at the Stadel on May 24 in presence of a gathering that drew the party’s top leadership (except Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee) as well as a smattering of Tollywood to which Chakraborty had provided a stage alongside Bollywood at his gala musical extravaganzas at the Salt Lake stadium. Each guest was greeted with a facsimile of the original manuscript of Gitanjali. Its title page carried a family photograph of the Chakrabortys in which the daughter-in-law’s picture had been digitally inserted.

“My father’s memories are so linked to the stadium that we decided to hold the reception at the stadium-hotel,” said Anubhav, sitting at their FD Block home. The VIP enclosure of the stadium had hosted the lavish wedding of Anubhav’s cousin a couple of years ago. But Chakraborty was the sports minister then and the Left Front in power. Now all that has changed.

The house is a monument to the maverick leader’s memories, with photographs and tributes dotting every wall. A hint of sadness fills Sarbani’s voice when asked about her perception of her father-in-law. “My biggest disappointment is never having met him when he was alive. Of course, I saw him on TV. How would I know he would be my father-in-law some day? Everyone I meet now talks of how things would be if he were around.”

Tollywood actor Jeet and (Right) Rituparna Sengupta with Sarbani at the reception.

Sarbani admits that she was warned about getting marked by marrying into a CPM family. “But I liked the people, especially him — so soft-spoken and warm of heart.” The newly-weds are just back from Kashmir. The honeymoon lasted all of three days, thanks to the gruelling schedule of a daily soap. “I got leave for only 12 days.”

Their route to matrimony befits the spectacular coincidences that serials are known for. “I was travelling by the Bongaon local with my mother on our way home in Habra when a lady recognised me as Rai. She got talking to my mother and took our number. The next thing she does is visit Anubhav’s mother and tell her about me at a time when Dadagiri was beaming on TV. And there I was as a contestant in the episode. They liked me on screen and a meeting was set up at South City of the two families.” Both insist that the arranged relationship soon blossomed into romance.

A notable absentee at the wedding was Mithun Chakraborty who has been intimate with the family since the Hope ’86 concert days and also attended the memorial at FD Park. “He was in Austria. He would come and meet us some day soon,” says Anubhav (in picture with Mithun).

Sarbani has got married twice before on screen. “My actual wedding got over in two hours but the wedding episode got shot over 15 days! Mala bodol today, subha drishti tomorrow. All artistes could not turn up on the same dates. So there I was, decked up all over again as a bride for those portions to be shot.” But she was far more nervous over the real thing. “I caught a cold, lost my voice, kept breaking down in tears...Thank god, there were no dialogues to deliver.”

My biggest disappointment
is never having met him (Subhas Chakraborty) when he was alive. Of course, I saw him on TV. How would I know he would be my father-in-law some day? — Sarbani

On Monday, Sarbani resumed shooting after shifting from the rented space in Tollygunge. Salt Lake is still so unfamiliar that she had to take a domestic help along to find her way back. But neighbours, she says, have accepted her with open arms. “Everyday one kakima or the other comes over carrying cooked food dhokar dalna, kochu shaak, all my favourite dishes.”

Anubhav has never visited her on the sets. What if he is asked to do a side role one of these days? “I don’t think I can act in any role other than that of a dead soldier,” says the pharmaceutical company partner who looks after marketing. But if the tables are turned, Sarbani feels 10 years down the line she might be up to facing a crowd and delivering a political speech. After all, the film she debuted in was MLA Fatakeshto.