Friendship Day 2021: Dil, Dilli, Dosti #BFF
‘Kuch logon ke saath rehne se sab theek ho jaata hai.’ This dialogue from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013) sums up all about friendships. From sharing ek cup chai to borrowing each others clothes, best buddies are there for each other in need and deed, forever. And this is the sentiment that these friends from Delhi have been sharing for years. Here’s a testament of their bond, on this Friendship Day!
Rajesh Tailang: Our favourite hangout was Bhagwan tea stall in Mandi House
“My friendship with Anup is now 31 years old,” says Rajesh Tailang, adding, “We’ve seen so many ups and downs together. We have shared so many fantastic moments, struggles and hardships. The best memories we have are when we used live in a 10X10 ft room and the budget for our dinner used be ₹15 or 20, but we used to enjoy a lot and often go and sit on the top of Mahakali caves and watch planes landing and take off from Sahar Airport (now known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport). And during our NSD days in Delhi, our favourite hangout place was Bengali Market, Nathu’s and Bhagwan tea stall in Mandi House. Whenever we both are in Delhi, we make it a point to go to all these places. That’s how friendships last lifelong!”
Annup Sonii: NSD hostel mein hum T-shirts share karte the
“We were in the same ’93 batch of NSD, and that’s how our friendship started,” recalls actor Annup Sonii, and adds, “When we came to Mumbai, we didn’t know its left and right or which local train to take. We even had to share clothes at times. NSD hostel mein bhi hum T-shirts share karte the. Agar meri koi shirt achi nahin hoti toh main Rajesh ki pehen leta tha. Bas shoes nahin share kar paate the kyunki uske paer ka size bada hai (laughs).”
“Since we became friends, we’ve always been concerned about each other, and talk very frequently. The time when Rajesh’s father passed away and I got to know, I immediately packed up (from the shooting) and took a flight to be there with him. Personally, we’ve always been there for each other, and as far as work is concerned, I’ve always consulted him. I started working onscreen before him, par humari dosti iss tarah ki hain ki mai khush hota hun ki woh ab bahut achha kaam kar raha hai and people are recognising his talent,” adds Sonii.
Bhavana Reddy: When Tilo moved away from Delhi, we wrote long emails
Kuchipudi dancer Bhavana Reddy talks about her childhood friend, legal analyst Tilottama Puri. “Tilo has always been true and wholehearted to me,” says Reddy, adding, “Apart from the kiddie shenanigans and great laughs we have had through our childhood, she has been there like an elder sister to me, preparing me for the world and protecting me from it! She not only respected me as a friend, but would also tell off the bullies, like a true elder sister. We would chill at Khan market, which was mostly the centre of our universe in Delhi! When she first moved away from Delhi, we were kids, we would write long long emails to each other that continued well into the time when Facebook took over. When I need a friend I know Tilo is there for me... Once, in our pre-teens, we planned a trip over emails for me to visit her. And, we ended up spending the New Year’s watching the London Eye with Tilo’s mom! She has an elephant’s memory and remembers every friend or acquaintance of mine she ever met, which makes it all the more fun and easy to talk to her about everyone and everything in my life, no matter what geographical distance life would place between us.”
Tilottama Puri: Used to giggle together in dance classes
“26 years and counting, how time flies!” says Tilottama. Sharing some fond memories, she adds, “Our recent memories together include online dance sessions since the crazy pandemic began, Bhavana’s visit to NYC in 2018 and her wedding in 2019. It’s very cool how our friendship has been evolving and growing through different stages of life, countries and continents. Words cannot do justice to it. In childhood, we used to be the ones giggling together in dance classes and rehearsals for dance performances with Bhavana’s parents. Always scheming something or the other and playing different games such as Uch neech ka papda and with Barbie dolls. Our mothers used to scold us for chatting away till late during our sleepovers. In our teenage years, we had some fun trips together to Vienna and London and dance performances in Budapest. And how can I forget my annual visits to India for dance sessions!”
Suneet Varma: He’s the only person I can share a room with
For fashion designer Suneet Varma, a friendship should be the one that’s “evolving and ever lasting”. And that’s the one he shares with designer Ravi Bajaj. Varma says, “The thing about friendships is that you can’t remain friends if you’re just a person from the same industry. You have to find and connect at a larger level. Some friends you connect over food, music, exercise or spirituality. Ravi and I went to school and design college together, and even started our careers together. He was the first person I called when my father passed away; even before I called my siblings. He has been a part of my real and everyday life. The great thing about ever lasting friendships is the things we disagree on, but there are lots of things we agree with. If I ever need an opinion, or a pillar of support, I know he’s always there. When we were younger we used to go to parties, and clubs in Delhi. We have travelled the world to buy fabric, shared rooms. He’s probably the only person I can ever share a room with. We are very fond of each other families as well. Last week I sent him a picture of me and mother having a drink together. And he said, ‘Mom should know which son she should have a drink with rather’!”
Ravi Bajaj: We sang Asha Bhosle songs on our way to college
“In moments of happiness, you might think of a lot of people to call. To share joy is easy, but to share sorrow, you just can’t pick up the phone and call the first person,” says fashion designer Ravi Bajaj, talking about his 3am friend Suneet Varma. “We have a joke where he always tells his mother that I’m her son because we have so much in common. He tells her: Ravi is your son main toh awein hi aa gaya si,” laughs Bajaj, adding, “We lived in GK 1, had the same school and eventually shared the same bus. He was two years senior to me. We saw each other every day, but never spoke and then he graduated before me. Then one day, I walked into the class in our college in London, and he was there on the first desk. He looks at me and like ‘Oh my God’! From there, we used to share an apartment, walk to college together, and sing Asha Bhosle songs every morning.”
“When back to Delhi, we had formed a routine to meet every weekend, and GK 1 was the place. Archana Cinema was our hangout spot. It was the fashionable joint those days! We used to party on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Either he’d come over to my house or I would go to his place and there would be a ‘Wardrobe fit’ on what we’d wear. We’d get ready and his famous words ‘Mr B, nobody is safe tonight’,” he laughs reminiscing those days, and adds, “Like in way we’re looking that hot!”
Papa CJ: I told hospital staff we don’t know who is the father of my friend’s unborn child!
Stand-up comedian Papa CJ’s bond with his closest friend Chetan Vohra is one for the keeps. Sharing an anecdote, he says, “He’s my closest friend and ours is a friendship that has passed the test of both time and mischief. We were very naughty as teenagers growing up in Kolkata. When Chetan and his wife were having their first baby, they were at a hospital in Delhi; he was on the second floor where all the operation theatres were and the rest of us were waiting downstairs. After about five minutes of the operation having started, he called me on the phone and said, ‘CJ, I’m damn nervous, please come up and wait with me.’ I said, ‘Sure’ and walked up. When I got to the door of the second floor, a female security guard stopped me and said, ‘Sorry sir, upar sirf ek aadmi allowed hai.’ (Sorry sir, only one man is allowed upstairs). I replied in a heartbeat, ‘Dekhiye. humein pata nahi ki bachche ka baap kaun hai. Toh jab tak bachcha nahi niklega hum dono toh khade hee rahenge.’ (You see, we don’t know who the father is. So until the child comes out, both of us have to stand and wait.) The poor woman was so flabbergasted, she just said, ‘Haan haan sir, aap please jao’.”
Hang on, the tale doesn’t end there: “After little Nainika was born, and was wheeled out of the operation theatre, the guard sneaked up to me and whispered in my ear, ‘Sir, did you figure out who the father is?’ I replied, ‘It’s neither of us’. It was years before I told Chetan’s wife this story and she understood why the hospital staff gave her such dirty looks when she got out of the operation theatre!”
Sanjeeta Bhattacharya: She knows how much I love Delhi and it’s monuments
Friendships that begin in childhood are for the keeps. And such is the case with singer-actor Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, whose relationship with her childhood friend Sugandha Sarna is for, forever! “We have been friends since grade six. We became inseparable in grade nine, when we were bench partners. It’s mostly highs with her and no lows. But, during one incident, we were both giving a Maths exam and the score was out of 30. I got one out of 30 and Sugandha got 29 out of 30! And teacher was like ‘Dono ke marks mila ke toh full marks bante hai, so says a lot about your friendship’. We both gave our final exams in grade 12, and right after the exam we went to Safdarjung Tomb; it was so beautiful. She knows how much I love her, Delhi and the monuments here. But it’s sad that I can’t see her so often now...”
Sugandha, a Delhi-based corporate professional says, “Our friendship from the very beginning has been unconditional. Whenever we meet, we talk about everything that’s been going on in our lives and deeply introspect. There are very few relationships in your life where you know you can talk about your feelings without being judged, that’s the bond I share with her. Love her to the moon and back.”
Author tweets @Nainaarora8