It happened one night....
Suparn Verma in Bombay
February 16 marked a milestone in the history
of Hindi cinema.
Not for any record-busting film release, or stunning debut, or
indeed any onscreen event worth a mention. But because on that
day, two of the biggest families in Hindi filmdom came together
in the bounds of matrimony.
We refer, obviously, to the marriage of Shweta, only daughter
of Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, with Nikhil, son of Ritu and Rajan Nanda and grandson
of the legendary Raj Kapoor.
The Bachchan home Prateeksha -- a landmark even in the Juhu
Vile Parle Scheme area where there are more stars to the square
mile than there are in heaven -- was decked up
for the occasion. And the first step in the preparations was to
raise the high walls even higher, and thus shut out the star-gazing
The proper festivities began on the 14th , when the
two families and their friends, numbering over 200, assembled
at Prateeksha for the Sangeet. A yellow and gold theme for the
interior decor, and a carpet of mogra and marigold flowers, were
the highlights of the arrangements, while the buffet dinner featured
the best Thai food to be had in Bombay.
The big tree that dominates the Bachchan lawn was meanwhile covered
with a mosaic of glass, while the entrance of the house, as also
the outside walls, were covered with mirrors to give the setting
a surreal appearance.
Pop star Daler Mehendi held the stage with his bhangra numbers,
and during a break in his performance, the bride's brother Abhishek
took over the entertainment, with help from sister Shweta, as
also Nikhil, Natasha Nanda and Karishma Kapoor, the groom's sister
and cousin respectively.
But even for that crowd -- the elite of showbiz -- Amitabh remained
the ultimate crowd-puller. And the greatest applause was thus
reserved for the superstar himself, when he sang the old hit Ao
Bachon tumhe sikhayen kahani Hindustani kihowever
changing Hindustan to Nandistan and taking a friendly dig at the
The next day provided more festivities, with Randhir Kapoor celebrating
his 50th birthday. Krishna Raj Kapoor , the matriarch of the clan,
hosted the party at the Kapoor home on the RK studios and again, the Bachchan
and Kapoor clans gathered for the festivities.
Came the 16th, and the mahurat for the wedding was
set at 9 pm. The Baraat set off from the suburban Leela Kempinski
hotel two hours before the auspicious time, with the groom
riding on horseback part of the way before transferring to a luxury
The groom got back on horseback just before the venue, and with
his escort -- the galaxy of Bollywood's rich and famous -- trailing
him on foot, reached the home of the bride to the accompaniment
of a spectacular fireworks display.
For the wedding, the decor was dominated by red and gold, with
roses replacing the marigolds of the Sangeet ceremony. Bride Shweta
was carried to the platform on a wooden stool, while Abhishek
carried the groom on a wooden stool.
The hour-long ceremony had four priests officiating, while guests
were seated at tables placed to provide everyone a clear view.
Once the serious business was over, Abhishek took over,
getting the guests out on the dance floor and boogeying to a hit
parade of Hindi film tunes. In due course, the bride and groom
were also teased into joining the celebrants -- and the
proverbial good time was had by all.
And throughout it all, a huge crowd of hangers on hung around
on the roads outside the Bachchan bungalow. Unable to get a peek
at the wedding of the year, the fans had still turned out in strength,
if only to bask in their nearness to the ceremony that unified
the two most prominent of film families in India.
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar