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Home / Culture / A bunch of brothers and sisters prep for a virtual Rakhi

A bunch of brothers and sisters prep for a virtual Rakhi

A t2 lookbook
Sunil with sister Bandana

Saionee Chakraborty   |     |   Published 02.08.20, 06:43 PM

Our lives have long slipped into a virtual mode, with or without a pandemic. Emoticons for emotions. We needed a global crisis to witness a resurgence of those very emotions from the shadows of emoticons.

Long conversations. Video chats. The longing to reach out and the urge to grab every opportunity to reunite, yes virtually, but make the most of it. The screen a constant reminder of what we long took for granted.

This Rakhi, The Telegraph reached out to a gang of siblings who are all set to celebrate the festival virtually. Neha Gandhi Binjrajka styled them virtually for this special shoot. And, the conversations brought alive a bit of their childhood. #precious

Star footballer Sunil Chhetri adores his sister, younger to him by two years, and tells us why no one can mess with her.

You look super cool!  

All Sonam’s (wife) idea. My family is big on Rakhi, but since I have always been away, it was seldom that my sister Bandana Chhetri (who is now in Delhi) and I could be at the same place, but she is enthusiastic like ever. She would ensure that we FaceTime and send me gifts. I am the one who is a bit more lethargic.

Rakhi was a very special day in our household when we were young. Mum made sure that we followed all the rituals. One of the weird things when we were growing up was all the gifts were given to me by my sister. I never had anything much to give her. She had a small piggy bank. She would buy gifts with whatever money she had collected. May be I didn’t understand the importance of it completely. Now, when I look back, I think it was really sweet.

What is the bond like?

She was and is the apple of eye. My father was always posted in different places and it was my mum, my sister and me in the house. My mother was a young parent. She had me when she was 18. I used to behave as if I was the man of the family. I wanted to but I am not sure if I succeeded in that. I thought I had to take care of these two girls in my life. My sister was the main one… always a bit more pampered. I am very protective about her. She is the glue. I was the naughtier but I never had to bully her a lot because we were a strong team. Nobody could mess with her.

What is your message for her?

Bandu, I wish you stay happy and healthy.
 

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Anindita Bose is the only kid and has grown up with lots of cousins who are her lifeline. For them, she is definitely not Anindita Bose, something which the actress loves.  

What is Rakhi like usually?

I have been tying a rakhi to two of my cousins since childhood. One stays in America. And, I also tie a rakhi to two of my cousin sisters. We used to have a big get-together in my aunt’s house where all the brothers and sisters used to gather. The lunch affair was huge. There would be lots of sweets and gifts. I used to always look forward to the exchange of gifts. I think that is the main reason why I enjoyed celebrating Rakhi so much... (laughs) because of all the lovely gifts I would get from my brothers. For the last 10 years that’s not been happening. We wish each other virtually.

You also have the option of travelling every year. This year many will not exercise that. So, is this Rakhi a little more special?

What has happened because of this lockdown is that our video chat sessions have gone up, jeta aamra jiboney kortam na. I never thought I would get all brothers together on a video chat. One is in America, one is in Delhi and one is in Bombay... the timelines! They don’t even want to click pictures! This year we have decided that we will get on a video call. May be because of the pandemic we are feeling ‘Oh my god, we’ll never be able to see each other again!’ Ekta emotional byapar chole eshechhe because we have never done video calls before this. Ekta message e hoye jeto. This pandemic has helped us get in touch with those emotions which we didn’t quite realise before because we were so busy with our lives. I know how much I miss Raksha Bandhan. I haven’t seen any of my family members for the past four months now. Otherwise I am in Bombay every month.

What is the bond like?

I am very close to them. Since I am the only kid, very early on, I latched on to them.

Do they treat you like Anindita Bose?!

They don’t care and that is the beautiful part of being close to your family. They keep you grounded. They have a lot of embarrassing stories about me! They treat me like Rimpi. They relate to that. Of course, they follow my work and they are critical. There are projects they like and then there are some where just by watching the trailer, they’ll say ‘Sorry eta puro dekhtey parbona... boddo kharap’. (Laughs) I like that because I know I am getting honest feedback.
I am like a punching bag for them. They still bully me! (Laughs) But I like the whole camaraderie that I share with them. If they don’t pull my leg, I feel something is wrong. I can’t imagine my life without my extended family. I am so dependent on them.

What is your message for your cousins?

Please try and realise that I have become Anindita Bose now. Stop bullying me and be nice to me! 

Supportive and overprotective. That’s Shaheb Bhattacherjee, the brother. He gives us a glimpse of his childhood with sister Sonam Bhattacherjee, two years younger to him.

Do you celebrate Rakhi regularly?

It is equally celebrated as Bhai Phonta. These occasions are about sibling love, but more importantly, an occasion for the sisters to get some gifts from the brothers! (Laughs) For the past two years I am getting return gifts. So, I am very happy! I still have rakhis given by my sister for the last five-seven years.

What was childhood like?

I was the quiet one. Whenever Sonam would get angry, she would scream her lungs out and cry and bite! My mother would beat me up! I was always at the receiving end.

Once we were coming back from a wedding and it was quite late. I was with my mother and sister in the car and we started fighting. I was five and Sonam was four. She started crying and my mother got angry and slapped me. I have had a temper since I was a kid. My mother had a bag full of her wedding jewellery. I just dropped it at Hazra crossing. I told her with a shundor innocent face, which I still have, I’ll buy her jewellery. Tarpor jeta holo, bola holo, aamar bouke City Gold er goina deao hobe and the existing ones were given to Mem (Sonam)!

You had all the makings of a hero right from childhood!

Yes, there was a reflection of the same! (Laughs) And Bangla cinema’r heroder moto protisruti. Jodio konodin diyni. (Laughs)

What are the perks of having a younger sister?

Guys who grow up alone, get that sense of responsibility much later. If you have a younger sister, however, you do have that sense of responsibility and protectiveness from a young age. Keu kichhu bollo kina, boyfriend holo kina.... She should be thankful that when she went to meet Sunil (Chhetri, footballer, to whom Sonam is married now) I took her. Aami byaparta govern korbo... survey korbo! (Laughs)
I remember Forum had just opened. On one such meeting, Sunil and Sonam were in the food court and I was having ice cream with my girlfriend a floor below. We finished our ice creams and I landed up again... ‘cholo shomoi hoye gechhe!’ (Laughs) Tar aage prochur chheleke dhore pitiyechi! Some people weren’t even at fault. Bon er i dosh chhilo. Tao tarai maar kheyechhe.
Though she is younger to me, she acts like my mother and she is always after me to get married... I don’t know why! The solution to every problem, according to her, lies in marriage.

Did Sonam have a say about your girlfriends?

She has always been friendly with my girlfriends apart from a few. We can count those out because tader ke aamio khub ekta pochhondo kortam na! (Laughs)

She is very protective too about you…

She is both a mother and child to me. We had a very bad argument and fight once when we were both very young. I had just started college and she was in Plus II. We were both hot-blooded, which comes from our dad (footballer Subrata Bhattacharya). I remember not speaking to her for six months, staying in the same house. Then we got involved in a car accident and she protected me like a fierce tigress! She is my little baby and you can’t be angry with her for too long.

What is your message for Sonam?

Stop worrying about my marriage. Let me handle it! Now that she is married, I miss her more than I can express actually. She is more expressive. I can’t say it in front of her.
 

Kid sister Sonam Bhattacherjee lets us into Shaheb’s childhood secrets and tells us why she wants him to get married NOW.

What are your Rakhi memories?

We have our own small ways of celebrating it. We go out to eat or I bake a cake for dada.

You guys had a fun childhood…

We were friends. I have grown up with dada and his friends, playing football and cricket. I was a bit of a tomboy, with short hair. There was a point in time when we both were bald, during dada’s thread ceremony! By god’s grace, you can’t find those pictures any more (laughs)!
He had the most tantrums. I was very hassle-free. Dishes of his preference were cooked at home. When he realised the responsibility of having a younger sister, then I started getting pampered.

And he became police…

No doubt! I dated Sunil for so long and he is the only guy in my life who stayed for so long and I am glad that dada loved him from Day One. I was lucky! Noitoh Sunil’r o chance kom chhilo. Dada helped me lot. He also took me to Goa to meet Sunil. Baba doesn’t have much of a say over dada… he is the doting son (laughs).

Shaheb was saying you want him to get married asap!

Aami bhishon chintito. I want him to get married fast. Meghe meghe bela kom hoini. (Laughs) I think he should get married to the girl he loves. I don’t think he’ll be okay with an arranged marriage, though I don’t mind!

What is your message for him?

I want him to stay safe because he has started working and I hope he does good work. 
 

What are your Rakhi memories?

We have our own small ways of celebrating it. We go out to eat or I bake a cake for dada.

You guys had a fun childhood…

We were friends. I have grown up with dada and his friends, playing football and cricket. I was a bit of a tomboy, with short hair. There was a point in time when we both were bald, during dada’s thread ceremony! By god’s grace, you can’t find those pictures any more (laughs)!
He had the most tantrums. I was very hassle-free. Dishes of his preference were cooked at home. When he realised the responsibility of having a younger sister, then I started getting pampered.
And he became police…

No doubt! I dated Sunil for so long and he is the only guy in my life who stayed for so long and I am glad that dada loved him from Day One. I was lucky! Noitoh Sunil’r o chance kom chhilo. Dada helped me lot. He also took me to Goa to meet Sunil. Baba doesn’t have much of a say over dada… he is the doting son (laughs).

Shaheb was saying you want him to get married asap!

Aami bhishon chintito. I want him to get married fast. Meghe meghe bela kom hoini. (Laughs) I think he should get married to the girl he loves. I don’t think he’ll be okay with an arranged marriage, though I don’t mind!

What is your message for him?

I want him to stay safe because he has started working and I hope he does good work. 

Actress Darshana Banik’s big brother Debopriyo is like a guardian to her, who has been a pillar in her life.  

Are you big on Rakhi?

I haven’t been able to celebrate it since 2015. My elder brother
(Debopriyo), older to me by five years, doesn’t stay here. He is in San Francisco.

What are your Rakhi plans this year?

He was here in February and there was a rakhi at home. So, I tied him one. I had planned on visiting them after Puja, but now I don’t know when I’ll see him again. I was telling him that how I wish this lockdown was announced in February. He would have been here. The whole family would have been here. I’ll video call him for sure.

What was Rakhi like when you were a kid?

I used to be excited about gifts and used to be on the hunt for what gift he’d got for me. He used to pretend that he had forgotten. And surprisingly, he just knew what I was craving for. The funniest gift was he had bought me pre-paid talk-time cards. This was in class IX or X. I would be on phone quite a lot, chatting with and texting my friends.

So, he just gets you…

He was my best friend while growing up. He knew about my first crush. Now, my sister-in-law is. He is very protective too. A distant relative of ours, my cousin, had made snide remarks about my career choice when I had just started out. He had blocked him and till date, he doesn’t talk to him and doesn’t quite approve of me talking to him too. He doesn’t like the fact that I am working in the middle of a pandemic. After my dad, he is my guardian. He has helped me with studies and life lessons. The disadvantage of having a big brother is that aaro ekjon extra gyan deor manush (laughs)!  

What is your message for Debopriyo?

See you soon!

Actress Sauraseni Maitra reconnected with her UK-based maternal cousins after 12 years and will miss them the most this Rakhi. “We got together at a wedding and there was an instant connect,” she tells The Telegraph.

What are your Rakhi plans this year?

We plan to connect virtually this year. Had they been here, it would have been a blast.  

Tell us a bit about your relationship with your UK-based cousins Aneesh, Ashneel and Anshul …

They usually call me around 3.30am-4am, India time, and they think I mostly stay up watching Netflix and avoid them! It is not always true but then you don’t feel like talking at 3.30am. Ora aamai opoman korar jonyo phone korey! Recently they dug up an eight-year-old Saraswati Puja video where I am dancing like a maniac and they blackmail me that they will expose me. I am scared to do Instagram lives because they troll me, but they are very sweet and I am looking forward to this Rakhi. They make fun of me in public, but, bujhuk ki na bujhuk, they watch all my films.

You also grew up with many more cousins…

I spent most of my summer vacations in my grandmom’s house, which is bang opposite my house. Chips and cold drink party, torch recreating disco lights… I had a proper childhood with my cousins. It would have been drab without them. I was always the doodh bhaat and they would bowl me out in the first ball in a cricket match and put me to cheerleader duties, but it was fun.

What is your message for Aneesh, Ashneel and Anshul ?

Grow up, be better human beings, try not to embarrass me in public. I miss you guys and love you like crazy. Okay, enough, I can’t be cheesy any more! I also hate you guys! (Laughs out loud)

 



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