Midnapore, April 21: “When will he arrive?” asked 14-year-old Sudipta Bhattacharya for the tenth time, unable to contain her excitement. Mother Shipra offered a few words of encouragement and told her to be patient.
It was 11.30am at the office of the district magistrate and collector in Midnapore town, no place for a young stargazer. But then word had got out that her favourite actor would arrive in the afternoon to file his nomination for the Ghatal constituency.
And Sudipta, a student of Paharipur Girls High School, couldn’t just sit at home. She took up position outside the room marked RO’s Chamber, 32 Ghatal PC, around 10.30am and started pacing the corridor. “I’m a big Dev fan, I’ve seen all his films. I loved Khoka 420,” she said.
Her mother revealed some inside information. “If you had been to her room just a few days ago, you would have seen it full of Dev posters on the walls. But then her teacher complained that she was watching too many Dev films and was neglecting her studies. So I made her take down all the posters,” said Shipra. “But I kept one for myself,” smiled Sudipta.
The collectorate itself seemed to share a slice of Sudipta’s sense of expectation, waiting for the star Trinamul Congress candidate to show up. Faces peered from behind closed doors and women staffers in colourful saris whispered among themselves.
Neither they nor Sudipta knew when Dev reached Vidyasagar Hall, a kilometre away, around 12.30pm. From there, Khokababu’s cavalcade wound its way through Hospital Road, College Road, past the Vidyasagar statue and Khudiram statue, before making its way to the district magistrate’s office.
By then, hundreds of Trinamul workers and Dev fans had gathered around his jeep. The corridor leading to the conference room where he would file his nomination was cordoned off. Dev entered the corridor, where Sudipta was waiting for him with bated breath, around 1.45pm. He had to make a dash for the door of the conference room as photographers, fans, police personnel engulfed him from all sides. In the melee, Dev, with his head down, disappeared into the conference room.
Sudipta was crushed. “I could hardly get a glimpse of him. Why was he rushed into the room?” she cried.
A full hour ticked by before Dev, now officially the Trinamul candidate from Ghatal, emerged from the room. The rush-down-the-corridor routine was re-enacted but then the star’s instinct kicked in. Dev looked up. Dev waved. Dev smiled.
That was enough for Sudipta. She waltzed away into the blazing Midnapore sun with a smile that said it all. She would never forget April 21, 2014. Neither would her hero.
“I had one of the best experiences of my life today. I feel so blessed. There was such a genuine outpouring of love and affection from the people,” Dev told The Telegraph.
“I’m not a politician, and initially I didn’t get the whole significance of the day, and what it meant for me. Then gradually I began to understand its value. This is a big day for any candidate and I was amazed to see so many people there. Their feeling towards me is so genuine, they are so happy to see me. I am really touchedů.”
As was Sudipta. Yes, it was a special day for both the star and the stargazer.