The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Look who’s here!
(From top) Ashima Bhalla and Karan Grover with t2 readers Rajeev and Madhu Bajoria; (right) the two exchange friendship bands with contest winner Antara Choudhury; the telly couple strikes a pose for the camera. Pictures by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya

Friendship Day acquired a whole new meaning for half-a-dozen star-struck Calcutta homes when the lead pair of the popular daily soap Meri Awaaz Ko Mil Gayi Roshni came calling on Monday morning. For the lucky six winners of the Meri Awaaz Ko Mil Gayi Roshni contest, organised in association with t2, who had SMSed and e-mailed stating why they wanted to meet Ashima Bhalla and Karan Grover (Sudha and Raj in the STAR Plus serial), it was a dream come true.

A brief stopover at the Oberoi Grand after a long flight from Mumbai and the two small-screen stars were more than eager to go visit their city fans.“Calcutta is such a wonderful city. I came here when I was a kid during Christmas and it was absolute magic,” smiled Ashima, looking picture perfect in a magenta and turquoise churidar kurta.

First stop: Balaram Kartik’s house in Bhowanipore. With a huge crowd already gathered outside to catch a glimpse of the pair, fans went into a frenzy and mobile phone cameras worked overtime. The duo posed happily for the cameras, tied friendship bands and gave away lots of gifts to the winner, who was clearly overwhelmed. “This is the kind of warmth and love from the audience that keeps an actor going,” gushed Karan, between desperate attempts to learn a few Bengali lines (he eventually mastered ‘besh bhalo,’ which he kept repeating in every home).

The Parekhs in Bhowanipore who confessed that “they watched the serial regularly” were next, followed by Antara Choudhury of Hazra, who was more than happy to meet her favourite stars. Winner Mandira Sen, another Meri, had virtually her entire para in attendance at her Hazra house to welcome the stars.

Wherever the two went, there were frenzied fans chanting their names and wanting to shake hands, and curious onlookers craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the telly twosome.

t2 readers Rajeev Bajoria and wife Madhu, who had travelled all the way from Lake Town to Hazra, to meet the actors were not disappointed as Ashima and Karan posed for photographs and obliged them with autographs. In fact, the actors were “overwhelmed” by the fact that their serial had so many takers in Calcutta.

The last stop was the house of Vijay Gupta in New Alipore. With banners of the serial, balloons and streamers adorning the pathway to the house, Ashima and Karan were given a resounding welcome by the Gupta parivaar. The two looked at home as they chatted with their fans and signed autographs by the dozen. Ashima even sang a few lines of the title song from the serial at the request of the Guptas!

“It was wonderful being with such warm people,” gushed Ashima as the visit came to an end. “I will cherish these memories always,” said she.

Six very happy Calcutta homes will too.

Priyanka Roy

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