ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 47

A wedding spiced with Bollywood melodrama

By Ramola Talwarbadam

Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai arrive in a car after getting married early today in Mumbai, India

MUMBAI, Saturday (AP)- Astrologers were consulted, the gods gave their blessings, the white stallion was ready and delirious fans milled around the marigold-bedecked home. The stage was set for Bollywood's ''wedding of the century.'' Film-crazy India held its breath Friday as two of its biggest stars, the emerald-eyed former Miss World Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan, a romantic hero and son of an Indian cinema legend, celebrated their wedding.

The affair, hyped by Indian media as ''the wedding of the century,'' was filled with the melodrama so beloved in Bollywood, India's flamboyant Hindi film industry: secrecy, dance routines and even a suicidal fan who claimed to be the groom's jilted lover. Hundreds of fans cheered as Bachchan, wearing a gold and cream turban _ his face covered with a traditional veil of white flowers_ emerged onto the streets outside his home astride a white stallion, giving his admirers a thumbs-up sign while his friends danced around him.

Bachchan bobbed his head and punched the air with his hands in time to a Bollywood tune played by an accompanying band of red-turbaned musicians. He then made his way to a huge, flower-filled, air-conditioned tent encircled by gold curtains in the garden adjoining the Bachchan family home _ where to the sound of trumpets, drums and clanging cymbals, he and Rai reportedly exchanged garlands and wedding vows.

Rai remained hidden inside the barricaded venue, but the Indian media was split down the middle with reports that she either wore a red-and-gold, intricately embroidered sari, or a gold-and-cream creation. Hundreds of fans lined the roads, climbed trees or scaled buildings, hoping to catch a glimpse of the wedding party.

Film actor Amitabh Bachchan (bottom-R) leads the marriage procession of his son Abhishek Bachchan (C), dressed in traditional attire and giving a thumbs up as he rides a horse as part of the ritual of his marriage

Despite the intense interest in the fairy tale wedding, details _ from the clothes the couple would wear to the guest list _ have been shrouded in secrecy. Dozens of police officers kept overeager fans away from the stars. However, the festivities were marred when a young woman slit her wrists outside the Bachchan home in Mumbai early Friday.

Identifying herself as Jhanvi Kapoor, she said Bachchan had promised to marry her after they met when she was one of the dancers in a promotional music video for a movie ''Dus'' (''Ten''), in which Bachchan starred two years ago. ''He is not talking to me,'' she told reporters. ''I want to know why he doesn't talk to me.''

She was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, then arrested by police for attempting to commit suicide _ a crime in India. ''This is a stunt,'' said police officer A. Mohite. ''She seemed to have done this purely to catch the attention of the media.'' She was later released on bail of 10,000 rupees (US$238; euro198). Tight police security covered the venue. The guest list was a who's who of India's rich and famous: film stars, top industrialists and politicians.

Fans and media have been crowding around Bachchan and Rai's residence since pre-wedding ceremonies began two days ago. Some brought boxes of sweets, and said they wanted to bless the couple. The frenzy surrounding the two stars has been virtually nonstop since they first started dating after starring together in a film. India has followed them every step of the way to the altar, from visits to temples to overcome the fact that Rai was born under an unlucky sign, to consultations with astrologers to pick an auspicious day for the wedding.

Bachchan, 31, and Rai, 33, were engaged in a private ceremony in January. Rai, who first captured India's attention when she was crowned Miss World in 1994, has become one of its biggest stars and one of India's most recognized faces overseas.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.