The Telegraph
Thursday , March 6 , 2014
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Magic Mamata stuns Moon Moon

Calcutta, March 5: Abracadabra, Moon Moon for Bankura!

Magic Mamata — Moon Moon Sen had named her that for the “positive effect” that the chief minister’s visits would have on Suchitra Sen during her last days in Belle Vue — pulled a surprise rabbit out of her poll hat on Wednesday.

Moon Moon was “startled” by the announcement but regained her poise and prepared to take on “the huge responsibility”. “I am a bit frightened but after what she has done for my mother, she can ask me to do anything and I’ll do it for her,” Moon Moon told The Telegraph.

Moon Moon first knew Mamata through sporadic meetings since her railway minister days. “I had always found her to be very charming,” she recalled. And then in the first few days of 2014, the Mamata-Moon Moon bond took on a whole new meaning as the chief minister became her strongest support through her mother’s illness and death.

When the screen-goddess-turned-recluse learnt of Mamata’s visit to Belle Vue, she called her to her ITU bedside. “Aami shob shomoy aapnar paashe aachhi (I am always there for you),” Mamata told Suchitra during her 25-minute stay.

Overwhelmed that she had met someone the world had not caught a glimpse of for over three decades, Mamata had posted on Facebook: “I am undoubtedly fortunate enough to get an opportunity to meet her in person. It is an emotional moment.”

From coaxing the mother to eat something to comforting a sobbing daughter and connecting with granddaughters Raima and Riya, Mamata had emerged as a pillar of strength for the Sen family.

Mamata continued visiting the 82-year-old actress almost every day till she died on January 17. And then she rolled out the administrative red carpet for Suchitra’s last journey. Last rites over, an emotional Moon Moon walked up to the chief minister and hugged her and thanked her.

“Without her, I would never have been able to respect Ma’s wish to remain away from the public eye on her last journey. I will forever be grateful to her and in return, I will do whatever she asks me to do,” Moon Moon had said then.

On Wednesday, Mamata handed her the Bankura poll ticket without much of a warning.

Moon Moon, 55, was schooled at Loreto House and in England and then she returned to Calcutta to do her college and earn her masters degree from Jadavpur University. Tying the knot in 1978 with Bharat Dev Varma meant marrying into the royal family of Tripura.

Despite being the most stunning looker of her generation she only casually flirted with screens big and small, Tollywood and Bollywood. “She’s never taken anything very seriously and certainly not her career,” said a film-maker who has worked with her.

But now, Moon Moon is ready to get all serious. For the most demanding role in her public life — battling it out with Basudeb Acharya, nine-time MP from the Bankura constituency and CPM stalwart. “I’m sure Didi will talk to all of us before we start work. Unlike cinema, this is a different role in real life and I don’t want to fail. I want to do a good job and not disappoint myself or the others,” she said.

Acharya could not hide his amusement at finding a star opponent in the ring. “They (the Trinamul Congress) have no local candidate who has been in touch with the people in the Bankura constituency, hence the choice of a popular name from the film world. Anyway, it will not be a fight against an individual, it will be a political fight,” he said after Alimuddin Street confirmed his candidature for the seat for the 10th time.

The CPM parliamentarian was quick to add: “It’s funny that none of my opponents has ever come back to face me again… I wish my opponent well.”