The Ambanis got it so wrong with their Wedding Celebration.

Trigger Warning: This is quite a “Desi post”; I’m assuming basic knowledge of the Indian cultural landscape (who’s who in Bollywood etc).

There have been 5 “Royal Weddings” this year in India in contrast to the 2 we had in Britain (Prince Harry & Princess Eugenie).

India does many things well but weddings is a particularly South Asian boon. Desis take our weddings very seriously and Pakistan recurrently tries to cap “grand weddings.”

There is a high-octane mix of money, Westernisation and liberalisation galvanising the Indian elite to ever more convention defying customs.

  • The first wedding (Sonamkishaadi) was a more traditional Bollywood affair where Sonam, scion of the other grand Kapoor film family, was getting married. The groom had zero name recognition and this is entirely in line with Sonam’s sweet nature where she massively undersold herself (she could have found a more prestigious match if I say so myself). No one knew who Anand Ahuja was and it seemed silly of Sonam to change her name to Ahuja after marriage; almost as bad a mistake as renaming Bombay.
  • The second and third wedding can be grouped together. Virushka (Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma) and Deepika-Ranveer. Both weddings were private affairs in Italy and then large receptions in India. Virat Kohli is obviously a great match, being the captain and all, and there was a quiet dignity to Virushka. Both of these couples are “small town” kids who made it big and they followed a rather traditional format; didn’t press the envelop but dignified. Deepika has a much brighter star than Ranveer and that’s why she kept him waiting so long.
    • Ranveer is the typical Sindhi-Punjabi Bombay kid who’s hard-core desi, the Hindu Salman Khan. Last summer a rabid Kashmiri nationalist planted in my mind that the Indian governmentis trying to supplant the Khans with Hindu actors (Ranbir Kapoor is not a successful actor), there is only one true heir to Shah Rukh Khan and he’s rotting away in Lahore.
  • The Fourth Wedding was of course Priyanka Chopra to Nick Jonas. I was told over the weekend that Priyanka and Deepika both tried to break into America at the same time. It was Priyanka with her light Americanised accent who exoticised India who won over the “trying too hard” Westernised Deepika. But at any rate it was Priyanka’s wedding that really stole the show.
    • It was a fully Indian wedding with a semi-American cast. Her wedding video of her Ralph Lauren train and her Red Dress were all big winners. She sold the best of the India without going over the top and there were artful depictions all across. Priyanka’s wedding to Nick just won the show because along with Anushka she simply made an excellent marital match; Nick J is a huge star in his own right.

Now the Ambanis have completely got it wrong with their wedding. With 2,500 guests over 7 days; it’s dripping with show and ostentation that betrays their roots (I apologise for any remarks caused with my earlier comments). Everyone knowns the Ambanis are as rich as god and the way they should have planned their wedding is with style, intimacy and grace as opposed to flash, glamour and ostentation.

The Ambani wedding has “jumped the shark” in terms of lavish Indian wedding. Many rich Indian  boys & girls will be looking at that wedding and saying they don’t want that. We must maintain our three/four wedding day traditions (we spread it over 5 days from my birthday dinner event through to the goodbye brunch) but it must be done intimately with the 3S’s in mind (spirit, style & scale).

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19 Replies to “The Ambanis got it so wrong with their Wedding Celebration.”

  1. Two displays of power you miss mentioning in your post:
    1. Hillary was a guest at Isha Ambani’s wedding.
    2. Modi was a guest at Priyanka’s wedding.

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      1. What was Modi doing there?! The last time they met, everyone was upset Priyanka’s skirt wasn’t long enough. Priyanka’s mother commented “But she has nice legs.” It occurred to me the Priyanka family showcases how much India has changed in the time I’ve been away. This girl pretty much sold tickets to her wedding (impressive!).

        Also, how on earth did Priyanka study in the U.S living with her aunt? She says she visited America (presumably on a tourist visa) at the age of 12 and she says she just stayed on to go to public school here for 4 years.

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        1. // how much India has changed //

          Priyanka’s parents are docs in the Indian Army. One thing I have known all my life having visited airforce stations across the country (my uncle is a retired AVM) is how westernized defence forces’ kids are. Especially the girls. As a kid I used to think of myself as some gaoN ka dehati interacting with them…

          So it is not that India has changed as much as Indian Defence Forces officers continue to live in a super Westernized bubble.

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          1. Good point. I’ve actually noticed this growing up in Chennai. Defense families did things differently. They had DANCE parties which in Chennai were unheard of when I was growing up. They definitely did not wear frumpy clothes OR Indian clothes (if they wore a spree it was with sleeveless blouses). They were definitely what I believed was “Westernized”.

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  2. ” India has changed as much as Indian Defence Forces officers continue to live in a super Westernized bubble.”

    Anushka is a defence kid. In the 90s-2000s the modelling /acting outside of Bollywood families happened to be army kids only.

    Sonam is from poor man’s kapoor family. The whole family stood on the shoulder of Anil Kapoor only. Just like the Roshans resurrected themselves on Hritihik ‘s star power.
    None of the 4 (Virushka, Deepika Ranveer) are small towns. But yes they have achieved it without family in the business. The genuine small town superstar is Dhoni. All others small towners are middle of the road stars.

    ” Last summer a rabid Kashmiri nationalist planted in my mind that the Indian governmentis trying to supplant the Khans with Hindu actors (Ranbir Kapoor is not a successful actor), there is only one true heir to Shah Rukh Khan and he’s rotting away in Lahore.”

    There are no waiting in the wing muslim actor. So the next gen looks like a reset from the pre Khans era. Fawad is good but i feel he is overhyped. I remember the time when Hrithik/Ranbir were seen to dominate the industry for a decade without any peers, and we all see what happened to that.

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  3. WRT to the Ambanis: I’ve actually come to appreciate the skyscraper-house they built for themselves. I used to think it was the ugliest and tackiest thing I’d ever seen, but when you look across Bombay’s skyline the Antilia is not so bad. The endless ostentatious displays of wealth by the Ambani family is quite entertaining to read about though 😀 They are so over the top and just don’t care that so many are disgusted that it kind of makes me laugh.

    This wedding has everything.. Beyonce performing, a custom-made app for the guests to keep up, guests like Hillary Clinton, bride feeding the poor. LOL.

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      1. Maybe we are really discussing class here. Such vulgar display of wealth would be considered low class anywhere. But the Ambanis don’t seem to realize that. There is something extremely unfamiliar to me about the Sangeet ceremony involving choreographed and complex dances performed by the hosts. Is this how Indian weddings are now?! Bollywood has changed wedding customs in South India too. Mehendi and Sangeet were unheard of in South Indian Hindu weddings 20 years ago. Now they seem to be quite routine.

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  4. Deepika was born in Denmark to a legend of a father and grew up in the most cosmopolitan city in India. Don’t know how that is “small town” 🙄

    Re: army kids –
    They are one of the few groups of people in India who have a robust physical upbringing with all the various facilities available. Especially true for the girls since females in sports are typically not encouraged (though its changing).

    So these women generally grow up to be fitter, taller and more energetic. This makes them a catchment group for Bollywood even if they do not ethnically belong to one of the phenotypically preferred segment (upper class Muslims/Khatris).

    The fact that they are well-schooled and have more ‘personality’ than typical khaandaani children also helps.

    Both Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai are defence kids. Deepika isn’t but she grew up surrounded by them since Bangalore used to be a major retirement town for army folks.

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    1. Actresses have always been diverse; Sri Devi, Hema Malini, Sharmilla, Rekha

      I still consider Deepika to be from a more modest background than say Kareena Kapoor. Aish & Priyanka in the same bracket

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      1. That was then.
        Today’s Bollywood demands washboard abs. Much more Euro-centric or rather California-centric notions of beauty. On the plus side, skin colour matters less (Lisa Ray).

        A somewhat chubby actress Vidya Balan, inspite of her talent and connections is not a star.

        Katrina Kaif, who can barely string a couple of Hindi sentences demands crores and is considered an ‘A list’ actress.

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  5. “Betrays their Baniya roots”? Yeah that was a little offensive. On one hand everyone hates us for being “miserly” but on the other hand our weddings are too “ostentatious”? I’m not particularly interested in defending the Ambanis, but that comment sounds out of line. We’re quite proud of our roots. We’re also not some monolith. Gandhi was a baniya, hell even Jinnah had that background.

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