The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Mittal millions script joke, mosquito net strangles it
Minogue dazzles,
Mumbai does not

A Shah Rukh Khan-led spoof on Lakshmi Mittal’s family, containing a joke about “protection” on the wedding night, was considered to be in questionable taste by some of the guests attending six days of celebrations in France.

The latter are due to end tonight with the marriage of Vanisha Mittal, 23, daughter of the steel tycoon, and Amit Bhatia, 25.

The wedding is scheduled to be held in the beautiful setting of Vaux les Vicomte, a 17th-century chateau an hour’s drive from Paris, where a mandap has been erected on a pool covered with pink flowers. The Hindu service was due to take place at 8 pm in France after guests from the bride’s side and the baraat arrive at 4 pm and 5.30 pm respectively.

“The setting looks lovely,” said a journalist, who sneaked in before the ground was sealed off to tourists at 1 pm. “Workers brought from India have been working to prepare the arrangements for the last 15 days.”

One guest who has been enjoying herself is London socialite Ramola Bachchan, who said: “I think it’s been the most glamourous and most elaborate wedding I have been to, held in the most romantic city in the world. I don’t think we are going to see another wedding like this again.”

By common consent, Kylie Minogue’s half-hour performance to end the Star Night was “wonderful”. “She showed what a professional she is,” commented a member of the audience, who suggested she was paid a fee of £200,000 for her appearance. “Unfortunately a lot of people had walked out before she came on.”

There were mixed opinions on Shah Rukh, who was apparently paid £300,000 and who appeared on stage with Saif Ali Khan, Juhi Chawla and Rani Mukherjee. The foursome played the roles of Aditya and Megha, Mittal’s son and daughter-in-law, and Vanisha and Amit, on an evening estimated to cost £1.5 million.

Mittal said he had asked to see the script Shah Rukh had been working on but that was not made available to him. His premonition that it would not be entirely to his liking proved justified.

At one point, a woman who had assumed the role of Geeta Tandon, Amit’s aunt, walked on stage, and announced she had arrived with “protection” for the wedding night. Her joke that the “protection” was a little mosquito net fell somewhat flat. The identity of the culprit responsible for this lapse is not yet known.

“It was quite humourous,” said one guest indulgently, but another thought “it was on the edge” while a third dismissed it as “in poor taste”, adding, “Shah Rukh is a great actor but I would not have him at a wedding function even if I had the money”.

“I didn’t like Shah Rukh’s performance,” commented a fourth guest, who is used to hiring Bollywood stars. “The show was a bit of a disaster. The food was not so good either.”

Some guests have found the whole affair too remote while others have been touched by the warmth shown by Mittal and his wife Usha. While some guests found it tiresome to rush from one venue to the next, others appreciated Mittal’s efforts to choose a fresh setting for each occasion, notably the Palace of Versailles for the engagement and a chateau for the wedding.

This morning, guests staying at the Inter-Continental at Mittal’s expense enjoyed an Indian breakfast consisting of masala omelette, idli, sambar and green and coconut chutney. More expensive has been the £6 million of diamond jewellery Mittal is said to have ordered from Graff and other jewellers for the bride, groom and close relatives.

The clothes are being supplied by some of India’s best known designers, notably Suneet Varma and Abu Jani, according to a woman who knows her clothes.

VIP guests include Anil and Tina Ambani, Vijay Mallya, Anand and Anuradha Mahindra, Parmeshwar Godrej, minister Praful Patel, Sunil Mittal, Lalit Suri and property developer K.P. Singh, Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi, M.F. Husain and Murli Deora, the Khemkas, Hafeez Contractor, and the brothers Hinduja, Srichand, Gopi and Ashok, the two sons of Swraj Paul, Ambar and Aakash and their wives, Gauri and Nisha.

Asked who had come from Calcutta, a guest said there were no well-known faces. “I believe they are mostly Mr Mittal’s relatives,” he added.

Email This Page