The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Teen fan gets up, close and personal with Mahi the master blaster





Haseena Nasreen reached Calcutta on Wednesday with a mission to meet the man of her dreams. Braving the heat and dust, she diligently followed her hero for five days and on Sunday, her dream came true as Haseena — Shiuli to friends and family — got up, close and personal with Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

As the master blaster got off the team bus to oblige Shiuli — a regular face on the Eden Gardens stands during Team India’s training session — the 18-year-old girl from Behrampore breached the security ring to give Dhoni a tight hug and a birthday card in advance (pictures above courtesy STAR Ananda).

The security guards whisked her away, as Dhoni stood bewildered for a few seconds before boarding the bus and leaving for the hotel.

“Dhoni’s birthday is on July 7, but I knew it was my best chance to meet him and give him the card. I’m happy to have finally given him the card,” Shiuli told Metro on Sunday afternoon (picture on left by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya).

According to her, a senior Indian cricketer spotted her when she was trying to attract Dhoni’s attention and instructed the guards to allow her near the bus.

“He (Dhoni) said he was very pleased to meet me… Then, he also requested me to leave when the security people started pulling me,” she blushed, recounting the chance meeting with her prince charming outside the amphitheatre.

Dhoni later told his teammates that he thought the girl wanted an autograph and so he went out of his way to oblige her.

Milan Luthria’s Hattrick saw Calcutta girl Rimmi Sen nurse a huge crush for Mahendra Singh Dhoni. It was born out of her screen husband Kunal Kapoor’s obsession with the game. Once she also started taking an interest in cricket, she was floored by Dhoni’s moves on the pitch. While Dhoni himself didn’t appear in any frame of the film, his posters filled up Rimmi’s room and his TV footage took up quite a few reels of Hattrick. “In real life, I am a big fan of Sachin Tendulkar and stopped watching all matches the day he got married,” Rimmi tells Metro. “My cousins, in fact, are big fans of Dhoni. So, when Milan was sketching my character for Hattrick, I asked him if I could be a Dhoni fan. At least that way, my cousins would be happy.”

Shiuli, a first-year student of Behrampore College, became a fan of Dhoni after watching his 183-run innings, of just 145 balls, against Sri Lanka in October 2005.

“I like him because of his hard-hitting batting style and his hair,” said Shiuli, who sports coloured hair like Dhoni.

Everyone in her family — based in Khargram, around 245 km from Calcutta, in Murshidabad district — is aware of her obsession for Dhoni.

Shiuli, along with sister Lovely, lives in a rented house in Behrampore, to attend college and the house is full of Mahi’s life-size posters.

“She cannot tolerate criticism of Dhoni… She has quarrelled with a lot of people who have criticised Dhoni for his performance in the World Cup,” said Shiuli’s elder sister Kuheli Begum.

According to neuro-psychiatrist Sabyasachi Mitra, Kuheli’s behaviour can be linked with her obsession.

“Dhoni carries a huge celebrity quotient and he is immensely popular among women… His performance on the field may have disappointed many, but some people will always remember his flamboyance and hard hits,” he explained.

So whenever team India was playing, Shiuli would sit in front of the television to catch Dhoni in action. She had even come to Calcutta in March to watch the India-Sri Lanka match in the Eden Gardens, which was washed away.

“We were planning a visit to Calcutta to consult some doctors for our ailing mother. My sister desperately wanted to meet Dhoni and so we planned our trip to coincide with the conditioning camp,” said Mehboob Rahman, Shiuli’s elder brother.

Shiuli’s public display of affection for Dhoni may not go down well with some people, but her family is firmly behind her. They are happy that Shiuli — youngest of five siblings — finally got the chance to meet the wicket-keeper batsman.

“All of us know that she is a great fan of Dhoni. So, when she got the chance to meet him, she went up to him and hugged him… This is quite natural for an 18-year-old and I do not see anything wrong in it,” said Shiuli’s father Emdadul Islam.

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