Picture by Pabitra Das
Koel Mallick, Tolly’s most eligible girl, is all set to tie the knot with her best friend of seven years Nispal Singh (better known as Rane), who heads Surinder Films, one of the leading production houses in Tollywood. Over jhalmuri, cha and a freewheeling adda, the shy couple shared with t2 their love story which is all set to find its happily-ever-after ending with a flamboyant Punjabi and Bengali wedding on February 1, 2013.
When was the first time you met?
Koel: During Juddha.
Rane: No, it was earlier in 2005 when I approached her for a movie.
Koel: Oh yeah!
Rane: But the movie never happened. So 2005 August or September was the time we first met.
Koel: Oh wow!
Rane: Yes, I’m good with dates. (Smiles)
And first impressions?
Koel: I thought he was a super-amazing gentleman. Very sober, soft-spoken and always smiling… see even now! (Laughs out loud pointing at Rane who smiles on) Ebaar tumi bolo, Rane!
Rane: (Nodding) But you won’t let anyone talk.… I found her very down to earth. She was already a star but as we spoke, she seemed very non-starry.
When did you feel the butterflies in your stomach for the first time and feel the connection?
Koel: We kind of clicked immediately. We were friends and very soon became best friends. We’d be discussing things connected to life and family but we’d hardly talk about work. His vision was always so clear. I think, after my father (Ranjit Mallick), he’s that one person I feel who comes with such principles. Extremely practical and responsible…. Before I could feel the butterflies I actually started admiring him, respecting him as a super-duper man. I hate to say so many good things about him! (Laughs) But he’s a gem of a person. I say this not because I’m getting married to him but I feel highly blessed that God has sent me someone so nice and a lovely nest for me to call home.
Rane: It took time. We became very good friends and it gradually grew.
Koel: In fact, now when I think of it, he never said…. (rolls her eyes, trying to think back and exclaims at Rane) Hello! You never even proposed to me! I was just taken for granted. (Laughs) He was so sure, I guess.
Rane: Yes, I was very sure about it. I don’t know where I got so much confidence from! (Smiles)
What was your first date like?
Koel: I remember I was coming back from Raichak…
Rane: And I dropped her home.
Koel: That’s all! (Laughs) We weren’t really dating but I used to have private shows to attend and it would often get late. So my father, who really likes him so much, would always be like, ‘It’s so late, the chauffeur has to go. Ask Rane to drop you home.’ I’m so jealous of him! My parents actually love him more than they love me. Ma Baba sharakkhon shudhu tomar kotha shoney.... Aami abar rege jachhi (My father always sides with you... I am getting angry again)! But it’s so pointless to pick a fight with him. I will go on screaming and he’ll just sit and smile. So that’s how it all started. With Rane chauffeuring me home! (Laughs)
Rane: Yeah, also if her shoot went on till 4am and she wasn’t reachable on phone, her mom would call me….
Koel: Yeah, it was so funny. It wasn’t even his film that I was shooting for but they felt he would know.
So when did you break the news to your folks?
Rane: They understood, I think.
Koel: Yes, and my father would suddenly break into praises of him… ‘I really like him, very rare qualities that he has.’ (Turns towards Rane and quizzes) Did you feed him chocolates or something? Baba is so impressed with him.
Rane: My parents are also very happy with Koel and her family.
Koel: Ei dekhechho toh, one-word answer!
Rane: Arrey, they are very happy. My dad has known Koel and her family for a long time and for us, parents’ approval was very important.
Koel: He’s also the first boyfriend in my life who’s my best friend and I’m getting married to my best friend. My parents understood because he was the only man I would go out with for a film or a meal. I went to an all-girls school (Modern High) and college (Gokhale Memorial Girls’ College) and right after that I got into films. I never had the chance to make male friends. I remember this one time... have I told you Rane?... when we were having dinner and my father suddenly said, ‘Rane is a very nice man’. Imagine, it was like my father was trying to convince me! Sometimes I wonder if my dad was trying to fix us up! Tai bodhoy ichhe kore he would ask the chauffeur to go away. (Laughs)
So how do you spend your together time?
Rane: With Koel, going to public places isn’t an option. A lot of times we’d hardly meet. She’d be busy with her shoot and me with my work.
Koel: We would sometimes go out for food and movies but food maaney… boli? Chicken corn soup and pan-fried noodles khete khete aami morey gechhi! (Laughs) The last time I have had that was in Class I.
Rane: Nowadays I have sushi too. (Smiles)
Koel: How about experimenting sometimes?!
At a time when nothing stays under wraps, how did you manage to keep your relationship a secret for so long?
Rane: That was very important.
Koel: He’s very media-shy and at the same time I don’t like fabricated things about my personal life. The profession I’m in, a lot of times things get blown out of proportion. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t go out for movies and meals, but at parties, since I don’t keep late hours, I would be the first one to arrive and also leave while he would usually enter later.
Rane: On the sets or otherwise, too, we’re always very professional. We didn’t want people to make up stories. I never wanted rumours floating around and that reaching our parents or our families feeling hurt.
When did you realise you were ready for marriage?
Rane: I think our parents made us realise.
Koel: Yeah, my parents asked Rane one day, ‘When are you both planning to get married?’
Rane: And I told her mom, ‘I haven’t thought about it.’ They wanted to talk to my parents who were in Goa at that time on vacation and I called Koel and said, ‘What’s happening?!’
Koel: Actually, it’s not like we were consciously thinking and planning marriage but one fine day I just woke up, something hit me and I felt, okay I think I have to get married now.
Rane: Koel’s always been very clear about what she wants to do. For a decade she’s ruled the Bengali film industry as an actress and she is doing so well now. So I was like, ‘Are you sure you want to get married now and leave this place?’ because once you get married there will be other commitments.
Koel: Yes, in fact he was the one who was like, ‘Ekhon keno korchho, pore koro…’
Rane: Yes, we could have delayed it by six months or a year but she felt differently.
Koel: See, life can’t just be about work and more work. There’s no end to ambition and want. Being a good wife and doing my bit for my in-laws was also important for me to feel successful and happy about my life. It’s been a decade now that I’ve been working and thankfully, it’s gone well. So I thought the time was right. My parents, and especially my Thakuma, wanted to see me married. She would always be like... ‘Kobe aami amar naatjamai ke dekhte pabo?’ And she was so happy to meet him. I felt good.
|MANY MOODS OF KOEL AND HER MAN: At the t2 chat in Rane’s Vivekananda Park office. Pictures by Pabitra Das
What makes Rane Koel’s ideal man?
Koel: He’s not filmi or flashy at all. Strong principles, ethics, very committed and a big heart.
Rane, what do you like most about Koel?
Rane: She has a very strong sense of values and she’s very sweet. She knows her priorities and has a lot of respect for how her family feels.
So is it going to be a shakha-pola versus mehndi-choora wedding?
Koel: Not versus, it’ll be about both Bengali and Punjabi traditions. In all my films I’ve been doing so much of everything, and now finally when the day I’ve always dreamt about is here, I’m doing things even more elaborately — both a Punjabi and a Bengali wedding!
Rane: We’ll have a gurdwara wedding according to our Sikh customs in the morning and then in the evening we go to her house and get married the Bengali way. It’ll be a three-day affair. A mehndi and sangeet kind of ceremony on January 31, the wedding is on February 1, and a reception the next day.
What will you be wearing on the special day?
Rane: I haven’t decided but I guess sherwani in the morning and dhoti in the evening.
Koel: Which he’ll love, because he’s more of a Bengali than a Punjabi. He’s the wise, sober and cultured kind while I’m the loud one! I will be wearing something traditional in rani or pink. Salwar kameez for the daytime wedding and sari at night.
Koel, what’s the best thing about marrying a Punjabi?
Koel: They’re bright, very fun-loving people, always in a celebratory and colourful mood.
Rane, what’s the best thing about marrying a Bengali?
Rane: I love Rabindrasangeet and Koel is always singing in the car when I’m driving. (Looking at Koel) Ki holo, gao!
(Koel starts singing) Amaro porano jaha chaay! Okay, enough. (Blushes)
Rane, do you watch all of Koel’s films?
Rane: Yes, I do.
Koel: Yes, he watches all of my films. I don’t even have to ask him. He’s the biggest critic I have.
Rane: And I tell her whatever I feel is right…
Koel: Which is mostly in the negative!
Rane: See, people will always say good things on your face and then talk about what they haven’t liked behind your back. Acting is her department but if I ever feel that the make-up isn’t right or somewhere she’s acted too loud, I ask her to get a check.
And Koel, do you take an interest in film production?
Rane: Not even one per cent. She doesn’t understand a thing about production and I don’t think she ever will! She doesn’t understand anything related to money. You give her a bundle of notes and ask her to take a grand out, she’ll be lost. But she loves paying. Whenever we go out to a restaurant, she never lets me pay. (Koel laughs guiltily)
So what’s the upside and downside of marrying an actress?
Rane: I’m from the same industry and it’s been a long time that we’ve known each other. It’s more about the person she is and not the actress.
And of marrying a film producer?
Koel: I don’t know about the upside. But the downside is that he’s always on the phone and talking about work! Oh, but I must tell you about this one time when we were in Hyderabad for the shooting of Hero when a man from Ramanaidu Studios came running up to him. They were starting a big-budget south Indian film and wanted him to star in it as their hero; Rane almost shooed him away! (Laughs)
Rane: I’m never going to act! I have received offers but I tell them, instead of wasting your money in casting me, why don’t you contribute to our film production!
Koel: Like a true producer! (Laughs)
Anything about each other that annoys you?
Koel: I wish he would talk a little more. It would be easier for us to have a conversation! And also he’s so perfect, it makes me realise that I must match up!
Rane: She talks a lot. You get her started about this plate of muri and she can talk about it for an hour. Now she’s asked me to talk to her in Hindi to get some practice, so I’ve assigned this task to my five-year-old niece or else I would forget my Hindi!
Will films take a back seat for Koel after marriage?
Rane: She doesn’t want to do films anymore but I don’t think she should leave so soon. Maybe cut down but not leave. Also, she has a huge fan following and I don’t want them throwing stones at me! Already arombho hoye gachhe!
Koel: My priorities will definitely change because I’ll have more responsibilities and duties with my second family. It’s too early to talk about my career because when I came into the industry it was more destiny’s choice. After marriage, too, I will leave things to take their own course.
HIS & HERS
Describe each other in one word:
Koel: Magnanimous and honest.
Koel: I’m a Taurean.
A dream holiday destination:
Koel: I love the seas.
Rane: Maybe Greece.
Fave Bengali/Punjabi food:
Rane: Chholar Dal and luchi. I can eat buckets from morning to night.
Koel: Makki di Roti and Sarson da Saag in winter and Tandoori chicken all year round. I think I’ll become a big rosogolla after marriage because his parents, especially his mother, loves to feed me. So I’m warning people to not get surprised when I turn into a rosogolla after marriage!
K: He loves it, I don’t!
R: I like going shopping for myself and I take her along sometimes and end up doing most of her shopping.
K: He’s quite a shopper. Never even checks the price tag, just picks up whatever catches his fancy!
Rane: I’m a Sachin Tendulkar fan. I love cricket and also basketball.
Koel: I have absolutely no interest in sports! He tries to educate me on the games on an iPad.
Rane: But she knows Ludo. So I have to play Ludo at times with her…
Koel: (Laughs) And he cheats majorly!
Rane: I like full-on masala films. It could be romantic or a comedy, unlike Koel who likes more of the parallel...
Koel: Depends on my mood. I love watching all kinds. But how can you love masala films when you’re just the opposite in real life?
Rane: Yes, I love watching films like a Bodyguard or a Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. It’s a good break from the stress and seriousness all around.
Fave on-screen jodi:
Koel: Uttam and Suchitra.
Rane: Shah Rukh and Kajol.