The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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AbAsh invite goes to Sonia
Amitabh Bachchan, Sonia Gandhi

April 1: Sonia Gandhi and her children have received invitation cards for the Aishwarya-Abhishek wedding, issued in the name of Amitabh Bachchan’s mother Teji Bachchan.

Sources said that 10 days ago, Amitabh’s brother Ajitabh went to Delhi and handed the cards to Sonia’s daughter Priyanka Vadra because the Congress president, for some reason, was not available.

It is anybody’s guess whether Sonia or her children would attend the wedding, tentatively set for April 19-20 at Jalsa in Mumbai.

Relations between the Bachchan and Gandhi families, once extremely close, are said to be strained but Teji continues to have a special place in her heart for Sonia, Priyanka and Rahul.

The sources said both Amitabh and Ajitabh felt that their ailing mother, in whose name all the invitations were being issued, would want the Gandhis to be at the wedding.

Ajitabh reportedly told Amitabh and Jaya that because of this reason, he would be going to Delhi with invitation cards for the Gandhis.

Below the name of Teji, the card has those of Amitabh and Jaya, followed by the names of Aishwarya Rai’s parents.

Amitabh’s Mumbai bungalow is bustling with activity. A special security plan will be in place from April 12. Closed-circuit television cameras will record the three ceremonies: a grand sangeet tentatively set for April 18, the wedding and the reception.

A common friend said weddings have often mirrored the ups and downs in the two families’ ties. It was a wedding way back in February 1968 that had brought Sonia close to the Bachchans.

In his autobiography, Amitabh’s late father Harivansh Rai Bachchan has described how Sonia Maino, Rajiv Gandhi’s fiancée, was put up at the Bachchan home after she arrived in India for her marriage.

Teji assumed the role of Sonia’s godmother, introducing her to Indian ways of life. Within days, the young woman began to look upon Teji as a mother and Amitabh and Ajitabh as brothers.

Even some of the marriage rituals, such as the mehendi ceremony, were held at the Bachchan home. Harivansh Rai Bachchan and Teji sang at the wedding and Amitabh crooned humorous songs that his father had composed.

The two families’ relations are believed to have started fraying at the edges by the time the next generation was getting married. They strained some more, according to common friends, when Priyanka and Amitabh’s daughter Shweta married within two days of each other.

Shweta’s wedding took place on February 16-17, 1997, and Priyanka’s on the 18th. The tight schedule seemed to have created some confusion among common guests. Amitabh himself had to rush to Delhi for the early morning ceremony at Priyanka’s wedding after the late-night celebrations in Mumbai.

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