The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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B’days come of age: ‘Rags’ and revelry

“Mr and Mrs P.K. Ruia request the pleasure of your heart-warming company at a colourful evening followed by Dinner…”

The venue was Taj Bengal, the guests numbered over 300, the occasion was the ninth birthday of Ruia twins Raghav and Radhika, and the bash was BIG.

Running the show — from noon to midnight, from Harry Potter games to Raageshwari ‘live’ — were Prashant and Vipul, the brothers Patel of Fantasia, a creative events company from Mumbai. The Patels, with their team of 60, have been planning birthday bashes for celebrity kids in Bollywood for the past 15 years — from Esha Deol’s 10th to Shah Rukh Khan’s kids this year, from Govinda’s to Jackie Shroff’s little ones, and even Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s grandson’s last Saturday.

This was a Fantasia first for Calcutta. “We have earlier sent jugglers and stuff down here, but never have we been involved on this scale before,” said Prashant.

Calcutta, clearly, is catching up on this spend-game. The party began at 1 pm for the kids, with the entrance to the cartoon planet birthday bash barred by a tunnel. Shouting “Khulja sim sim” activated the voice sensors, leading to a maze, punctuated with UV-light reflecting cartoons. Till 5 pm, the show belonged to the youngsters, with games and gifts (a chocolate house with nearly 3,000 goodies and return presents chosen after a countrywide hunt).

“We wanted the kids to have a great time with their family and friends. In the morning, they did a puja and we had a traditional celebration, but in the evening, we wanted to do something a little more modern,” says P.K. Ruia. The planning began a month ago, with everything, including the balloons and props and a team of 40 Fantasia employees, being brought down from Mumbai, and some fun tools originating from Dubai.

“Nowadays, people want something new, glamorous and stylish. We plan our events in such a way that there is a surprise every 10 minutes. Ten years ago, kids were happy with a balloon spraying confetti. Now, we have missile launcher-type things to do the same job,” says Prashant. Till a few years ago, music from a stereo was good enough; now they, apparently, need a ‘Rags’ on stage to liven things up.

“This is the first time that I have performed professionally at a kids’ birthday party,” confessed Raageshwari, who had prepared a special routine.

The b-day bash comes at a time when 150 Marwari organisations, under the banner of the International Marwari Federation, are trying to exhort the community to curb lavish spending. “It is unfortunate that such extravagance continues at a time when Marwaris in Calcutta are facing the worst economic slump in decades,” says Sundeep Bhutoria, president of the federation’s youth wing.

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