The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A’s Big Day with Big B
- Birthday party with ‘family and friends’

Calcutta, Nov. 1: Before he becomes the model father-in-law on screen, Amitabh Bachchan is proving to be an ideal baabul (father, and also the name of Bachchan’s next film) in real life.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, Bachchan threw a midnight party to ring in Aishwarya Rai’s birthday with son Abhishek by her side. The who’s who of Bollywood was present at the venue — Mangi Ferra, a swank Italian restaurant in Juhu.

The official invite was for the launch of Anupam Kher and Kirron Kher’s son Sikander Kher, who will be making his debut in a film called Woodstock Villa. But one look at the decor — arranged with “the choicest candles of different sizes and shapes” — and the occasion was anybody’s guess.

Mangi Ferra owner Prashant Chaudhary maintained it was a Kher do but did mention: “Aishwarya did cut a big birthday cake in the presence of everyone, including the Bachchans.”

The 70-odd guests for the night included everyone from Shah Rukh and Gauri Khan to Saif Ali Khan and Rosa, besides the full Bachchan and Rai families.

“The party kicked off around 11.30 pm and went on till 2 in the morning,” added Chaudhary.

The reason for starting the party so late was the screening of Umrao Jaan — Aishwarya and Abhishek’s latest film, releasing worldwide this Friday — for the Bachchans and the Rais. “Director J.P. Dutta had organised the screening specially for the two families at the private theatre in Filmcity,” revealed the source. “And Amitji liked the film very much.”

The screening and the party might just set the rumour mills, which have been organising and calling off Aishwarya and Abhishek’s marriage for some time, rolling feverishly again. Talk of Abhishek, 30, and Aishwarya, 33, seeing each other started exactly a year ago, when Amitabh’s brother Ajitabh reportedly visited a Bangalore priest to seek astrological advice.

But Amitabh and Jaya had, apparently, not yet approved of Aishwarya as the Bachchan bahu. The other reason doing the rounds was that astrologically — the Bachchans are big believers — 2006 is not a good year for Ash and Abhishek to tie the knot and so the families were just biding time.

Abhishek and Aishwarya officially say they are “just good friends” and have also taken great care to not app-ear together before the flashbulbs, though they are working in four films — Umrao Jaan, Dhoom 2, Guru and Sarkar 2.

A couple of days back, the former Miss World had declared on a public platform that she would celebrate her birthday “with my closest friends and family”.

What she had left unsaid was that her “closest friends and family” would all be there at Mangi Ferra on the midnight hour.

With Amitabh wanting a grandson and his ailing mother Teji Bachchan wanting to see her grandson married, is the big fat Bollywood vivah just round the corner'

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