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Yonkers

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siblingsChatterers both, these siblings are each other’s sounding boards, critics and best friends. The energy is infectious, we find

Relative Value with Danish (26) and Kubra Sait (31)

A riot. That’s what this brother-sister duo is. What was meant to be an hour-long interview steamrolls at full speed into nearly three, before plodding to a reluctant halt. They laugh a lot. They also tease, crack abundant jokes, high five each other repeatedly, make casual conversation with onlookers and fans, and are generally high on life. Exhaustingly so, especially to reticent people not given to much exuberance. Danish and sister Kubra, well known in Bangalore as anchors, emcees, TV hosts and him, the voice of prankster Nagaraj on the radio (or Chacko, Azhgar…take your pick), make no effort dispel the notion that they are talkers. Fun ones, at that.

Older sister Kubra will repeatedly deny that she is a bully — and Danish will say she used to be one — but it is apparent that she is very involved in her little brother’s life. Case in point — the T-shirt, shoes and socks she has carried with him to change into photographs for this interview, which Danish obligingly accedes to without a thought or a look at her choices. He trusts her implicitly, it’s clear. “This is my world — my mom and sister. We are each other’s best friends,” he says earnestly, and she nods.

They get along like a house on fire, and it’s almost impossible to catch them out of tune. Danish starts a sentence, Kubra completes it. Kubra teases a train of thought, Danish responds with perfectly-timed laughs. They put their synergy down to having grown up in a broken home, where their parents were constantly at odds. Through it all, Kubra, a self-proclaimed “warrior”, remained fiercely protective of her brother. “He was so cute! Not that he isn’t now,” she says, looking at him fondly. ‘Didi’ (older sister) as Danish endearingly calls her even as we are surrounded by starry-eyed autograph-hunters, is the proverbial older sibling — pampering, indulgent, and sometimes domineering.

She recalls growing up with an “adorable” kid, who ate up all his chocolates and asked her to share as per mom’s strict instructions. “He didn’t even have his own clothes!” she says with a giggle. “He was so fair that if you gave him a tiny slap on the cheek, he would start bawling and turn beetroot red,” she says, gesturing animatedly. “So my mum would put him in my red frilly frock, which had layers and layers going right down to the floor, and give him a small smack on the cheek, and then click a picture while he would cry.” That is all she can complete before collapsing into laughter while a mortified Danish yells into the microphone — “We were poor! POOR! Put that down as the reason please.”

Mother and daughter would “torture” the littlest member of the family, but also made him the centre of their universe. Kubra has drawn his biology diagrams for him, driven him to boarding school and even sat with his head on her lap as they bawled when it was time to leave him there. “Of course we miss each other — first when she went to Dubai and now that she is in Mumbai,” says Danish, restlessly swirling chopsticks in the air before Kubra promptly puts them away. “Some of my best childhood memories are of the family going to the movies — she and mom on one bike and me and dad on another — and all I’d want to do is sit with Didi because she was the cool one.” Kubra also dropped him to school — a ride on a black, kickstart TVS bike filled with chatter and games where they would follow the fastest person ahead of them on the road.

Danish too weighs in on his sister’s relationships, work choices, and even plays mediator when she fights with their mother, who he says, “runs their lives.” “And when we quarrel with mom, one will stand up for her saying ‘you can’t talk like that about her!’ before becoming one unit and telling mom to leave the other alone. But while I’ll listen and resolve things, this one will go add more fuel to the fire — bloody!” he says, gesturing at his sister who is convulsing in laughter before saying guiltily, “Yes he’s right, I do that!”

Danish’s sister is his first critic — pulling him up for everything from calling an old man a ‘rascal’ in humour during a prank call to critiquing his clothes — “Look at what he’s wearing!” She recalls how as a child, he fought with her and went to Lalbagh, dressed in a casual t-shirt and his school tie, “and then clicked photos with all the Mickey Mouse dustbins.” He’s also honest with her. In fact, a week before they co-anchored the Pro Kabaddi League for TV, Kubra says she was on edge, unconvinced that it would work. “He was sure — and look how well it did!” They go on to talk about how much they love Shah Rukh Khan, who they met during Temptations 2004 in Bangalore and then during the Pro Kabaddi league. Once again, it’s hard to pries them apart.

Kubra says it “melts her heart” when “no matter where we are or with who we are, he’ll turn around and say, ‘Didi, can we go? Didi, can we do this?’ He’s taller than me, super independent and so, good at what he does, but still accords me that respect and fondness.” On stage, therefore, the first time he referred to her as Kubra, it gave her a jolt. “I also find it very weird ya, to call her Kubra. So I just say ‘HEY’!” he says loudly, with his trademark energy. And just when it seems like it’s all sibling love, he pulls her leg. “After a point when we’re hosting, I’ll call her Didi and she’ll call me Dan. But this one toh goes into a trance! We were doing a show where we’re giving the 1,000 ranked person an award and she goes ‘you are the lonely lamp in this darkness…’. I’m thinking, God, stop it already!”

Being in the same profession, they say, was a happy accident. “He was doing really well in theatrics school, while I was in Dubai, working for Microsoft and also anchoring events for the company before realising I wanted to do it for myself. Somehow, we both found our way into this profession. We took separate paths, but landed up in the same place,” Kubra says.

Ever since, there has been no looking back. Today, the two try and work together when possible, and make it a point to solicit feedback from the other “and mom, of course” no matter where they are. Work is central to both their lives, especially Danish’s, who admits that he doesn’t have too many friends. “In the last two-three years, people have gotten to know me. But for old Bengalurians, I’m still Kubra’s brother. In fact, we sometimes whet events like that. If I introduce myself as Kubra’s brother and they don’t know who she is, I know what kind of work they’ll give me,” he says. She nods, adding, “And now Danish is doing so well that people recognise me through him. It’s a weird twisted heirloom.”

We’ve hurtled from early evening to night, and it is time to wrap up. They banter about how she went from being a tomboy who wore Danish’s WWE t-shirts to college to one “glam” chick because of the “double poverty” they were in, he says with a guffaw. Loud laughter, again. The hilarity, we realise, is just one of the many reasons these two are as tight as thieves.

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The Heart Of The Natter