A big fat Calcutta wedding

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  • Published 7.02.12
Abhishek Bachchan with groom Abhinav Jhunjhunwala,bride Prerna Sarda and Tina Ambani
Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao at the wedding
Shah Rukh Khan with the bride and groom
Farhan Akhtar and wife Adhuna with Abhinav and Prerna
Madhur Bhandarkar dropped by
Prakash Jha
Anil and Tina Ambani played gracious hosts

I normally don’t like attending weddings. But I was back in Mumbai after almost 17 years, to do exactly that — attend the wedding of Calcutta-based industrialist Ghanshyam Sarda’s daughter Prerna with Abhinav Jhunjhunwala, son of Amitabh Jhunjhunwala, vice chairman and director, Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG).

I attended the pre-wedding sangeet function on Friday (January 27) in the ballroom of Taj Mahal (Palace) in Colaba. The ballroom had more people than it could accommodate comfortably. The leading industrialists of the country turned up in full strength at the bash hosted by the Jhunjhunwalas.

The scene at the Taj Lands End on Saturday (January 28) was straight out of a Bollywood film. By 4pm, the lane leading to the hotel was chock-a-block with cars. A red carpet from the road outside went all the way into the hotel.

The arrival of the Jhunjhunwala’s baraat defined what the world knows as the big fat Indian wedding. People thronged both sides of the approach road as the bridegroom’s entourage made a gala entry led by industrialist Anil Ambani. Biggies including Aamir Khan and wife Kiran and many other high-profile guests were in attendance.

I stood there on the other side of the door with others who had come down from Calcutta in full strength to welcome the bridegroom. Aamir and Kiran were in the middle of the baraat. I also spotted Prasoon Joshi whom I had recently met at the Jaipur Literature Festival.

As the evening stretched into night — on the hotel poolside lawn that wore a whole new look — the seemingly endless show of glamour and opulence went on and on and on. It was like a roll call of the rich and the famous.

Shah Rukh Khan, The Bachchans, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Karan Johar, Madhur Bhandarkar, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Smriti Irani, Prakash Jha, Farhan Akhtar and so on. Everybody was somebody.

Aamir Khan made the evening for many guests from Calcutta by posing with them for photos during the pheras. SRK, who arrived post-9.30pm, greeted the parents of the bride and groom with trademark charm.

There was a touch of Calcutta everywhere. From Sabyasachi (Mukherjee) saris to the different types of sandesh at dinner to the traditional marriage songs on CD that are a must in all Marwari weddings in Calcutta. Then there was the Russell Street phuchkawala and Calcutta’s famous jhalmuri during the high tea that was lapped up by Aamir Khan, who launched into a non-stop phuchka feast.

There are many high-voltage Indian weddings where money flows like water. But I would remember this one for its sheer elegance, its hospitality, its personal touch and the attention given to the smallest details.

Utsav Parekh was making sure that every guest had eaten well. It reminded me of Utsav’s son’s wedding at ITC Sonar in Calcutta when Ghanshyam Sarda was receiving guests at the entrance. This is what friendship is.

For all those Calcuttans who attended, this was a memorable wedding — from being welcomed by Tina Ambani to the reception to having Anil Ambani attending to the food arrangements to the warmth of the bride’s and groom’s families who made everyone feel like a Bachchan or an Ambani.

If you had a magic wand, which Bollywood star would you invite to your wedding and why? Tell t2@abp.in