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Wedding without Family No. 1
- Bachchans and loyalists missing from Karisma marriage feast

Mumbai, Sept. 29: As made-in-Bollywood designer weddings go, it was almost picture-perfect. Karisma Kapoor had to look beautiful as the bejewelled bride in a peach Manish Malhotra lehenga. Sister Kareena had to float like a dream in a green ensemble.

And, yes, groom Sanjay Kapoor and his bride had parental approval without which marriages are rarely scripted — on- and off-screen — in tinsel town these days.

Then, in the crush of the classes and the masses — boxed in on the pavement leading to the Kapoor castle — what was missing'

Royalty — or in a more telling statement — the heavy artillery only a first family can pull.

Amitabh Bachchan and his family kept away for obvious reasons — his son Abhishek was engaged to Karisma before they broke off amid bitterness last year.

The predictable non-appearance of the Bachchans did not put them on the Family No. 1 pedestal so far occupied by the Kapoors. The absence of the second wave did.

Many headliners — Bachchan loyalists, industrialists and film personalities — were not spotted, at least at the lunch, the main part of the celebrations. Not because they had anything against the Kapoors but because of an unspoken reluctance to be seen where the ageing superstar has chosen not to be.

Even Bachchan’s daughter Shweta, who is married to Karisma’s first cousin, did not attend. Shweta is the wife of Nikhil Nanda, son of Escorts’ Rajan Nanda. Neither did industrialist Anil Ambani, a Bachchan sympathiser, and Sahara chief Subroto Roy, another Bachchan buddy, though the serial Karishma, starring Karisma, has been promoted as the biggest programme on his channel. Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, a familiar face at gatherings like these, did not turn up, too.

Shah Rukh Khan and director Karan Johar, both of whom have worked closely with Karisma, stayed away.

But, as in any Bollywood plot, there were some surprises. Arch rivals Salman Khan and Vivek Oberoi turned up, attending the same public event possibly for the first time after their spat over Aishwarya Rai. Also in attendance were Tabu, Sanjay Dutt, Akshay Kumar, Govinda, film financier Bharat Shah, former cricket captain Mohammed Azharuddin and his wife Sangeeta Bijlani. Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha, Zeenat Aman and Poonam Dhillon represented the yesteryears.

There were also scores of policemen, deployed specially for the event despite the pressure on the force during the Navratri celebrations.

Extravaganza, too, was not in short supply. There was Swiss cheese, French bread, Italian pasta, Thai curries, Chinese soups, spicy paneer tikkas, kebabs, hot malpuas and high spirits. The spirits — 40-odd varieties of them — flowed like tap water.

The couple solemnised the marriage by going around the Granth Sahib, following traditional Punjabi wedding rituals. The “doli” left around eight in the evening. Karisma and Sanjay will go to Europe for their honeymoon.

Sanjay, a Delhi-based industrialist and a divorcee, and Karisma know each other since childhood. The couple says they always liked each other, but romance blossomed recently.

The small road leading to Raj Kapoor’s bungalow was lined with people on either side, screaming, rushing, jostling, and even stopping cars if they sniffed a celebrity inside. The verandas and gates of all the neighbouring houses had been turned into small auditoriums.

They were proud that “their girl” — Karisma — was getting married in the right place. Some of them were at their post by the roadside from nine in the morning.

There were small traffic snarl-ups, with the police chasing the people every now and then to disperse the mob. But through the long hours of association, many of the policemen and those being chased had become friendly and an easy camaraderie flowed between them.

Some said they would wait till the doli went.

This was the first big Kapoor wedding since the Rishi Kapoor-Neetu Singh wedding in the seventies. “That time also there was a traffic jam,” said an old lady.

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