The big, fat shaadi: Is Bollywood ghost directing your wedding?

Piyasree Dasgupta August 13, 2015 14:12:34 IST
The big, fat shaadi: Is Bollywood ghost directing your wedding?

The year's 1994. As Puja shoppers wrestle their way forward through the gloomy lanes of Kolkata's New Market, a curious sight awaits them. Under the cold stare of tubelights in display windows, stand mannequins wrapped in a familiar-looking entrapment. It's a shiny purple lehenga with heavy zardosi work and a gaudy blouse with unwieldy sleeves stretched till the elbows. And wait... what's that? A gaping hole for a back? "How does one wear that for a wedding?" women young and old wonder, rolling their eyes at that handwritten label pasted on the glass facade. It says, "latest wedding fashion", scribbled in red ink on a white piece of paper. "As if everyone's Madhuri Dixit...," others sneer, moving on, quickly stealing one last lingering last look at the 'Hum Aapke Hai Koun' wedding lehenga. That's a wedding most of them can't have. That's also a wedding many, many of them have secretly gone over in their heads at least a hundred times.

Hum Apke Hai Koun stopped causing much heartache in a few years. That doesn't mean, there are no Bollywood-induced wedding heartaches anymore.

1995: A wedding's not wedding-y enough if you haven't had a gaggle of women dance to Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna.

2001: Who gets to play Kareena Kapoor when they play Bole Chudiyaan in the sangeet? And oh, who dares to wear that choli with just a string holding it together at the back?

2013: Geez, someone please give Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani a hug? That film's a wedding playlist-cum-look book-cum party planner bundled into one!

Weddings have always been the centrepiece of the biggest Bollywood blockbusters. How then, can Bollywood not become the centrepiece of Indian weddings?

If you have been to an average Indian wedding, especially north Indian wedding, you know that Bollywood creeps into weddings without much deliberate planning even. It's as if real Indian weddings and Bollywood weddings, on this day, exist in a symbiotic relationship of sorts. However, at times, the union is more deliberately and elaborately planned. Trupti Lalwani, founder of Mumbai-based Exotic Indian Weddings, an organisation that choreographs and plans wedding sangeets, says she has planned 400 Indian weddings across the world since 2003 and she can't think of too many wedding functions which didn't have some typical Bollywood naach-gana. While there is usually a set pattern - a boy-meets-girl kind of film-like story, the couple dancing to the latest romantic chartbuster - there are times they get very specific requests too.

For example, Lalwani tells us, she recently helped plan a wedding function themed on a typical Bollywood awards night. And one, believe it or not, which had Big Boss as a theme!

"Earlier bride/groom and their friends/family would prefer simple dance steps when learning but now a days they want to do complex steps matching their favourite stars' moves. The business of organising sangeets has changed a lot. A sangeet with a fair amount of budget is no less than a Bollywood event," says Lalwani.

It doesn't end with the dancing. Some clients wants a wedding function to have a professional anchor, a comedy section thrown in, at times with back-up dancers. Filmfare, anyone?

Lalwani's company caters to clients with a wide range of budgets set aside for the Bollywood element in their wedding. It starts at Rs 50,000 and may go up to Rs 5 lakh. And that just for planning and choreographing one wedding function.

And if you have slightly deep pockets, it wouldn't be entirely impossible to document your romance as a grand, cinematic adventure. In fact, in what could be the closest you can get to a entirely Bollywood wedding is a wedding film, complete with a trailer, a title, credits - the works.

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In 2012, this video landed on our Facebook timelines. Most people who didn't (and still don't know) the people in the video swiftly went from wondering 'who are these people' to 'never mind who, this is so cute' to, 'you can really get these films done?', ending with a collective 'awww'. Obviously, it seemed like a mini Bollywood romance, with people who look closer to you than to heavily made-up Bollywood actors starring in them. While the trailer captured the usual wedding shenanigans, the same was punctuated with choreographed shots too - of the bride doing a whirl in her wedding finery as the skirt of her anarkali kurta fans out in a pretty circle, of the couple jumping into the pool in slo-mo and in wedding trousseau. All this is set to a rendition of the song 'Din Shagana Da Chhadeya' by Amar Khanda. And this was just the trailer.

Vishal Punjabi, the brain behind Wedding Filmer, however, doesn't think there is too many Bollywood influences in his films or elements of popular cinema in the ones he has shot till date. "In our experience clients want to be remember their wedding true to the memory. It should be captured with love and respect and most importantly unobtrusively, told in the most engaging manner possible," he told Firstpost.

Punjabi's films, the 'trailers' of which can be viewed on the Wedding Filmer website, are quite a rage on the internet. If you are familiar with them, you'll know it mixes elements of docu-features with those of fictional romance, and mostly has a popular romantic as a background score. It's sleekly shot and hits the sweet spot between the real and the purely cinematic. The result, like we mentioned, is a collective 'aww'.

All this comes for a (slightly steep) price, but that doesn't seem to deter too many people, who want their very own wedding 'film'. Though Punjabi refused to divulge the costing details to Firstpost, the 'FAQs' section of the website says that a 'real film' could cost up to Rs 5,00,000 for one day of shoot. However, it adds that since each wedding is unique, the cost may vary up or down.

"Our approach to film-making and budgeting isn't quite as cut dry as a 'package' or 'fixed price'. Write to us and we'll do our best to make it work for you," the website says.

Some others in the business, like Mumbai-based Wedding Nama, have had clients with their idea of a perfect romance rooted in Bollywood. No wonder then, they wanted their 'wedding films' to be nothing short of a Bollywood potboiler, complete with the latest chartbusters.

For example, one of WeddingNama's popular works was the wedding film titled, 'Kahin Na Kahin Koi Hai'. Now if you are a Bollywood masala lover, you can recognise the Dil To Pagal Hai tagline (Someone somewhere is made for you) in a heartbeat. The film opens with a hit from the Hrithik Roshan-Katrina Kaif blockbuster 'Tu'. Ankita, who founded WeddingNama with her husband Akash says, "Our film ‘Kahin Na Kahin Koi Hai’ is the only film we have made which has Bollywood elements like the trailer’s 5-4-3-2-1 start, songs, lip sync, Madhuri-Salman debate etc. It was only because the bride and groom were completely in love with Bollywood, specially our groom Vijash."

However, where Bollywood doesn't make a direct splash in a wedding film, it does so covertly. WeddingNama recently shot a film for the wedding of designer Nishka Lulla and entrepreneur Dhruv Mehra. Ankita told Firstpost, "For example, take our latest film, ‘A fairytale come true’, from Nishka Lulla & Dhruv Mehra’s wedding. Now this was truly a ‘designer’ wedding. Neeta Lulla had herself designed every little detail starting from the décor to the event flow to the outfits especially for her daughter. The wedding theme was Vrindavan, Radha-Krishna, & which was recreated at the beautiful Anantara Riverside in Bangkok."

The video, drips classic Bollywood romance. From confetti bathing the couple frolicking around, to the duo posing in a picturesque forest with bubbles hovering around their faces, from the couple lounging on a swing to Nishka doing a twirl in a pretty market place, the film conjures all the images that come to your mind with the very mention of 'Bollywood romance'.

If you are growing up in India, living, breathing it's films and television, it's not quite possible to not have Bollywood dictate a few romantic fantasies despite your best intentions. Chances are, when you give nifty directions about how you want your wedding video shot or what you want your wedding sangeet to look like, Karan Johar is pulling quite a few strings in that head of yours. And that's not necessarily a bad thing at all!

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