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Raksha Bandhan special: Meet eight sibling duos who revel in the love, and the rivalry!

Here’s the thing about siblings: you can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them. Here are eight brother-sister relationships to celebrate the sweetness of Rakhi

brunch Updated: Aug 26, 2018 00:29 IST
Veenu Singh
Veenu Singh
Hindustan Times
rakhi,raksha bandhan,indian festivals
These eight siblings redefine the love in the brother-sister relationship on this special occasion. Art direction: Amit Mallik ; Make-up and hair: Artistry by Anjali Jain (Raj K Raj and Manoj Verma)

Gul Panag (39), Actor & SherbirPanag (34), Lawyer

Two many rakhis!

Gul presents Sherbir with two rakhis every year: one outlandish one, and another subtle one that can be worn longer

Gul presents Sherbir with two rakhis every year: one outlandish one, and another subtle one that can be worn longer. (On Sherbir: Suit, King’s Tailors, Mumbai; belt, Ermenegildo Zegna; tie and shoes, Salvatore Ferragamo; shirt, Paul Smith; watch, Rolex Yacht-Master. On Gul: Top, Anne Fontaine; jeans, Only; shoes, Prada; watch, IWC) (Raj K Raj )
“As a four-year-old, I struggled with understanding gender. If Gul was my sister, I was her sister too” – Sherbir Panag

Brain, beauty and brawn = beauty pageant winner-actor-pilot Gul Panag! But her favourite achievement? It’s being partners in crime with her white-collar crime lawyer brother Sherbir Panag. They’re travel buddies, business partners and each other’s best mentors and worst critics. Gul, who is always the boss, presents two rakhis to Sherbir every year: one is loud with lights and sounds that he has to wear all day, and the other that can be worn longer. And Sherbir, a former member of the Indian shooting team, has always considered his sister to be the real hero. He tries his best to defer the rakhi present on the grounds that Gul hasn’t given him anything for bhai dooj. Fair deal!

Our most memorable Raksha Bandhan…

Gul: Once, knowing that Sherbir likes laddoos and would unsuspectingly eat them, I stuffed them with raisins, which I know he hates!

Sherbir: I struggled with understanding sibling genders. If Gul was my sister, in my four-year-old mind I was her sister too and insisted on giving her a rakhi too. I sometimes still give her a rakhi, because considering how fit she is, there’s a higher chance she’ll protect me.

Those sweet little things we do...

Gul: As a kid he would do anything I asked. Now he’s my sounding board, my rock and the best brother anyone could have.

Sherbir: When she was preparing for the Miss India pageant, I was her make-up guinea pig. And she would refuse to take it off unless I agreed “in writing” to be her slave for life. It speaks volumes for my intelligence that I fell for this three days in a row! Some habits die hard. We were in London this summer and I was getting ready for a meeting, only to find while tying my turban that my nails were painted pink. Standing in a corner, laughing her guts out, was my sister. She refused to give me her nail polish remover.

Deepak Chahar (25), Cricketer & Malti Chahar (26), Model and actress

A digital rakhi? umm...

The point is that rakhi cannot be missed: travels, continents, commitments be damned!

The point is that rakhi cannot be missed: travels, continents, commitments be damned! (On Malti: Dress, Ritu Kumar; earrings, Kasturi Jewellers; shoes; Charles & Keith. On Deepak: Suit, shirt and shoes, Louis Philippe; belt, Ted Baker) (Raj K Raj)
“During IPL, every player had their wife or girlfriend along. Malti was the only sister there!” – Deepak Chahar

Remember the face that became an overnight sensation during the intense IPL match between the Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders on April 10? It was Malti Chahar watching her brother in action, who is now hailed as the bowling prodigy of Indian cricket. A little more than a week after that, Deepak helped CSK bag a win over Sunrisers Hyderabad. On the other hand Malti, after studying software engineering, found her calling in the glam world and has just made her debut in the Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer, Genius.

Those sweet little things we do...

Malti: Back in school, Deepu bashed up a boy who was troubling me. But he troubles me too and spares no chance to taunt or annoy me, even on social media!

Deepak: At the IPL matches, players had their wife or girlfriend come along. Meenu di was the only sister supporting me. She knows all my passwords and checks my chats.

Naaz Joshi (36), Transsexual Model & Ajay Chaudhary (26), Fashion Model

Acceptance against odds

She is the mentor, he — the protective brother!

Naaz is the mentor. Ajay – the protective brother! (On Ajay: Shirt, self designed; jeans, Levi’s; shoes, Lee Cooper. On Naaz: Sari gown, Naaz Joshi; earrings, Soni Sapphire; shoes, Venus Steps) (Raj K Raj)

Born a boy into a Hindu-Muslim family, Naaz Joshi is now a strong, individual-minded woman living life on her own terms. She is the first Indian transsexual model to appear on the cover of a magazine, and is currently the reigning Miss World Diversity. Despite these achievements, one thing she hasn’t been able to win over, is love and acceptance from her biological brother.

“Ajay meets and interviews every boy before I go on a date” –Naaz Joshi

Enter Ajay Chaudury, a starry eyed model who was being sexually exploited while trying to make it big in the fashion industry. With her strength, Naaz shielded him, giving him support and guidance, and he proposed to make her his elder sister.

Thus, in 2013, Naaz not only found a brother but also her best friend. She is now treated like a daughter by Ajay’s family.

Our most memorable Raksha Bandhan…

Naaz: When Ajay asked me to be his older sister and gifted me a salwar kameez.

Ajay: The day Naaz di accepted my request to be my sister and my parents accepted her as their own daughter.

Those sweet little things we do...

Naaz: Ajay is very protective. He makes sure he has met and interviewed the boy before I go on a date. The worst thing is that he once bashed a boy in a club for looking at me inappropriately.

Ajay: She is my mentor. But she bullies me at times.

Nikhita Tandon (30), Fashion Designer & Rahil Tandon (25), Actor

Mother and best friend

Nikhita has a dozen cousin brothers, but Rahil is special!

Nikhita has a dozen cousin brothers, but Rahil is special! (On Rahil: T-shirt, Burberry; jeans, Giorgio Armani; shoes, Jimmy Choo; watch, Tag Heuer. On Nikhita: Top, Mynah by Reynu Taandon; earrings, Silver Line Jewellery; shoes, Steve Madden) (Raj K Raj)
“Instead of buying me a gift on my birthday, Rahil made me buy him Dior shoes!” – Nikhita Tandon

Daughter of designer Reynu Taandon, Nikhita, forayed into fashion with a collection at a prestigious fashion week in 2008. She is both a mother figure and best friend to her little brother Rahil, an actor who has starred in the Red Chillies production, Men Will Be Men (2011), after polishing his skills…

They both ensure they are under the same roof for rakhi every year!

Those little things we do...

Nikhita: Can you believe… Rahil made me once buy him Christian Dior shoes on my birthday!

Rahil: My parents were not too keen that I pursue acting. But it was Nikhs who managed to convince them and broke the news to me on the rakhi day of 2006!

Yuki Bhambri (26), Tennis Champion & Ankita Bhambri (31), Tennis Coach

Double serves of love

When Yuki served Ankita a paratha filled with chilli, and other such stories…

When Yuki served Ankita a paratha filled with chilli, and other such stories… (On Yuki: Bandhgala from Khan Market; pants, Banana Republic; shoes, Rockport; watch, Longines Roland Garros On Ankita: Kurta, Tops In Fashion; pleated pants; Ritu Kumar; shoes, Aldo; pendant and chain, Jewel Palace; bangle and earrings, Pipa Bella) (Raj K Raj)
“When I went to the US last year, Ankita hid two rakhis in my suitcase” –Yuki Bhambri

Currently being India’s No 1 tennis champion comes with responsibility and travel for Yuki Bhambri. He is playing at the US Open as we read this. For his eldest sister, Ankita, being coach for the women’s team at the 2018 Asian Games has her occupied. She is tasked with making our girls win. Despite their own commitments to their country, their sport and their careers, they’ve ensured they’ll be there for each other on Raksha Bandhan… like they are all year through!

Our most memorable Raksha Bandhan…

Ankita: When Yuki was really young, he and our youngest cousin, Vinayak, made a beautiful parantha for me. After a few bites, my mouth started burning. They had stuffed that paratha with two spoons of red chilli powder!

Yuki: In 2014, very close to rakhi, I got selected to play for the Asian Games in Incheon, Korea. To celebrate the acheivement all my sisters tied me tri-colour rakhis.

Those sweet little things we do...

Yuki: When I went to the US last year, to play for the US Open, Ankita hid two rakhis in my suitcase: one from her, the other from my other older sister!

Shaad Ali (43), Filmmaker & Sama Ali (27), Fashion Designer

Half sister, double the love

Turns out, an age gap only makes the sibling even more special!

Turns out, an age gap only makes the sibling bond between Shaad and Sama even more special. (On Sama: Outfit, House of Kotwara; shoes (khussas), from Lahore On Shaad: Kurta, pyjama and jacket, Kotwara; shoes (khussa), from Lahore) (Manoj Verma)

They say ‘Like father, like son’. It’s no surprise, then, that filmmaker Muazaffar Ali’s son Shaad went on to make movies like Saathiya, Bunty Aur Babli, OK Jaanu and Soorma, amongst others.

“Sama has said mean things about me to make my girlfriends run away ! –Shaad Ali

‘Like mother, like daughter’ is what they should also say. For, Shaad Ali’s half sister, 16 years his junior and daughter of designer Meera Ali, Sama is an established designer herself. Their careers have them into different directions, but they ensure their long-distance rakhi bond doesn’t change.

Our most memorable Raksha Bandhan…

Sama: I was seven and living in Lucknow. I was sad to spend yet another rakhi away from my brothers. But just before the day ended both my brothers surprised me with a visit and we spent the evening eating out and watching a film together. It was our first rakhi together.

Shaad: I get a rakhi anywhere in the world on the day or the day before, never late.

Those sweet little things we do...

Sama: I’m told that Murad, our oldest brother, came to the hospital when I was born with his friends. Each brought a red rose, and Murad held me in his arms and recited a funny poem.

Shaad: Sama always sends rakhis, but she has also said mean things about me just to make my girlfriends, who she did not like, run away!

Nishant Choubey (35), Chef & Akansha Choubey (28), Student

A day for pranks!

The story of salty laddoos and thermocol-filled gujiyas…

Nishant and Akansha Choubey share the story of salty laddoos and thermocol-filled gujiyas. (On Akansha: Dress, Forever 21; shoes, Steve Madden. On Nishant: T-shirt, trousers and jacket, Zara; shoes, Red Cherry) (Raj K Raj)
“I’ll make gujiyas with thermocol balls to refresh our childhood memories” – Akansha choubey

Chef Nishant Choubey may have worked at top hotels, but his siblings come first. Big brother Nishant is a role model to youngest sister Akansha Choubey, who is doing her PhD in Marketing. Being busy with their chaotic Delhi lives doesn’t stop the brother-sister duo to join their family every year for a sweet homecoming in Ranchi for rakhi because for them, it’s family before everything!

Our most memorable Raksha Bandhan…

Nishant: My sister once gave me a salty laddoo instead of a sweet

Aashmeen Munjaal (41), Make-up Artist & Niell Talwar (31), Entrepreneur

Partners in crime

The family that works together, stays together!

Aashmeen Munjaal and Neill Talwar prove that the family that works together, stays together. (On Aashmeen: Dress, Mauve Story; jewellery, Vishal Jewels. On Niell: Suit, Zara; shoes, Park Avenue) (Raj K Raj)
“Every Sunday she cooks, which is a torture as she’s not a great cook!” –Neill Talwar

Big sister Aashmeen took over the role of her mother when she passed away four years ago, but her true pillar of strength, support and love has been her little brother Neill, and this is not just personally, but also professionally. She may have sparkled brides and models for 13 years, but what brings the spark in her life is her relationship with Neill. Rakhi for them is a day to be together at their parents’ home, or for a mini family vacation.

Those sweet little things we do...

Aashmeen: The worst thing Neill’s done is make me deliberately jump from one of the scariest rides in Dubai.

Niell: Every Sunday Aashmeen insists on cooking for us, which is a torture, as she is not a great cook!

Who is wearing what in the group photo:

Sherbir Panag: Suit by King’s Tailors, Mumbai; belt, Ermenegildo Zegna; tie and shoes, Salvatore Ferragamo; shirt, Paul Smith; watch, Rolex Yacht-Master
Gul Panag: Top, Anne Fontaine, jeans, ONLY; shoes, Prada; watch, IWC
Nishant Choubey: Shirt, trousers and coat, Zara; watch, Armani; shoes, Red Cherry
Akansha Choubey: Suit from a boutique in Defence Colony; dupatta, Biba; earrings and bangles, Voylla; watch, Fossil; shoes, Steve Madden
Yuki Bhambri: Shirt, Zara; pants, Banana Republic; shoes, Adidas; watch, Longines
Ankita Bhambri: Dress, a store in the USA; watch, Calvin Klein; shoes, Aldo
Sama Ali: Dress, H&M; earrings, J. Crew; shoes, Mango
Shaad Ali: T-shirt and trousers, Uniqlo; shoes (khussa), Lahore; Naaz Joshi: Sari, Amazon; jacket and blouse, Naaz Joshi: jewellery, Sony Sapphire in Lajpat Nagar; shoes, Venus Steps.
Ajay Chaudhary: shirt, designed by him; jeans, Levis; shoes, Lee Cooper
Rahil Tandon: Outfit, Mynah by Reynu Taandon; watch, Tag Huer; jutti from Agra.
Nikhita Tandon: Suit, Mynah by Reynu Taandon; earrings, Silverline Jewellery
Aashmeen Munjaal: Dress, Mauve Story; jewellery, Vishal Jewels.
Niell Talwar: Kurta, Manyavar; trousers, Zara; shoes, Park Avenue
Malti Chahar: Top and skirt, Ritu Kumar; shoes, Charles & Keith.
Deepak Chahar: Bandhgala, Sunil Mehra, trousers, Park Avenue; shoes, Louis Philippe

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From HT Brunch, August 26, 2018

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First Published: Aug 25, 2018 21:56 IST