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THE POWAI police have handed over two brothers — aged 12 and 14 — to their family after they fled their home in Rajasthan to catch a glimpse of television actors Dilip Joshi and Shyam Pathak, who play ‘Jethalal’ and ‘Popatlal’, respectively, in the sitcom Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma.
An officer at Powai police station said that the two brothers, who study in classes VI and VIII, hail from Chani village in Bikaner district of Rajasthan. Huge fans of the sitcom, they decided to come to Mumbai to meet the actors a few months ago. “They enquired about the buses that went to the city and the ticket fare. They realized that they would need at least Rs 3,000 to come and stay here,” the officer said.
In May, the duo took employment at a under construction site and worked for a month earning nearly Rs 3,100. “The school vacations had started. They worked for a few hours without their parents, who are masons, knowing about it,” the officer said.
On the night on June 16, they fled their hometown and reached Ghatkopar the next morning. “After asking around, they came to know that TV serials are usually shot at Filmcity in Goregaon. They then took a bus to Goregaon. A good samaritan, M Jadhav, saw them on the bus and felt something amiss. He initiated a conversation with them and found out about their plan. Following this, he handed them over to the Powai police,” the officer said.
Officers at Powai police station called up their parents and also the producer of the sitcom, asking if a meeting could be arranged between the actors and the children, but to no avail. After spending a night at the observation home in Dongri, the children were taken home by their maternal uncle.
Dilip Joshi, who plays Jethalal, told The Indian Express: “I came to know about the incident when the boys had left. I think it is scary incident, as they could have fallen into wrong hands. I strongly discourage this trend of children running away from their homes to see me.”
“I do meet fans who come through proper channels. Last year, I met a woman who came to meet me with her great-grandson. She said meeting me was on her bucket list and I happily obliged her,” he added.