Atal, Amitabh and Ash star in mega wedding show

SAHARA CITY (LUCKNOW): When you have superstar Amitabh Bachchan and one of the beautiful women in the world, Aishwariya Rai, welcoming the guests at the entrance of the main venue, then you get this feeling that it is indeed the mother of all weddings. And the four-day wedding ceremony of the two sons of Subrata Roy, promoter of the Sahara group (assets worth approximately Rs 330 billion) is turning out to be just that.

Prime Minister A B Vajpayee with the newly wed couples and Sahara chief Subroto Roy (pic courtesy:

If Bachchan and Rai took your breath away with folded hands, then hold on. Further down the hall, there were Anil and Tina Ambani, along with Samajwadi Partys Amar Singh and actress Manisha Koirala, playing part of the gracious and glamorous host team. And, why not? If the guest list includes people like Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a host of central and state ministers, half the filmdom and corporate bigwigs, then the host team has to be equally strong.

Sahara chief Subroto Roy with Khan 'Janasheen' duo

As almost all roads from various parts of the country led to Lucknow on 10 February, where the first of the wedding of Roys eldest son Sushanto with Richa Ahuja, was solemnised yesterday, the big party is to continue till 14 February when on the Valentine Day, Roys younger son, Seemanto, ties the know with his lady love, Chandni Singh.

Had Lucknowites seen anything like this before? Not even in their dreams. The whole of the sprawling Sahara City has been turned into a fairyland - minus the glitter also it is an awesome place with its own food court, fun world and a White House replica - as sharab, kabab and shabab flows in abundance with star chefs whipping up mind-boggling array of cuisine and celebrity bar managers mix the right type of cocktail.

In their wedding finery with family friend Amar Singh

As this correspondent walked from the bus to the entrance of the Sahara City, along with the likes of Ram Vilas Paswan, people living in nearby residential high-rise buildings lined up on both sides of the road to have a glimpse of the gliterrati and neta-ratti. One such resident couldnt help asking whether one was a politician from Delhi or some telly serial actor.

Yesterday during the wedding of Sushanto, the CEO of Saharas entertainment business, papa Roy also gave an example of the clout that he wields with politicians, glam frat and businesspeople alike.

But, it has to be handed to the Sahara group that things worked with clockwork precision. From ferrying across celebrity guests in decorated chartered flights -- six such flights did the two-way trip from Delhi alone till 1 am Wednesday -- from various parts of the country to Lucknow, every minute details had been planned out. Including having 

numerous help desks peppered all over the venue to direct guests to the right place. Whats more, despite celebrities and people on high security list, things rolled on smoothly with hardly any steps taken to put over 10,000 guests to inconvenience -- no switching off mobile phones, no restricted movements, no melee, no traffic jams.

There was no dearth of entertainment and networking too. There was this orchestra, flown down from London, played at one corner, while at another a dance troupe swayed to the latest Hindi tunes. Amidst all this, business tips were exchanged, business deals discussed and film projects 

sounded out.

The Film Frat at Sahara Wedding

Bachchan was seen involved in friendly bantering with India Today editor Prabhu Chawla, Dharam 'putra' Sunny Deol sat beside his lady love Dimple (who is said to have supplied perfumed candles worth over Rs 10 million), Adi Godrej animatedly talked to film frats, Daburs promoter V C Burman discussed the weather with film-maker and fashion designer Muzaffar Ali, regional media group Jagarans Mahendra Mohan sought out media people and Indian fashions enfant terrible Rohit Bal, in white, blew air kisses to almost everybody.

While media baron Aroon Purie, with wife in tow, sampled the over 10 type of different cuisine laid out, it was a pity that pretty lady Ritu Beri made an early exit, but blue-eyed Celina Jaitley made up for her, demurely dressed, which was a far cry from the skimpy dresses she sported in Janasheen, whose lead actor Fardeen Khan and producer-director Feroze Khan preferred to have a family reunion of sorts with brother Sanjay and his wife Zarine.

In between there were also the likes of yesteryear film villain Ranjit, known more for his on-screen rape scenes -- what did he and Raj Babbar, part of the host team, had to discuss ? -- Sri Adhikari Brothers vice-chairman Markand Adhikari, Shekhar Suman, Jaaved Jafferi, former Miss India Gul Panang, Ritu Nanda (daughter of Raj Kapoor), cricket legend Kapil Dev, social activist Nafisa Ali with polo player husband Pickles Sodhi, film directors Prakash Jha and B.R. Chopra, controversial film producer and diamond merchant Bharat Shah. Calcuttas rising film director Rituparno Ghosh hunted for fish curry in a dress that looked like a cross between Fab India kurtas and Afghani dresses, Congresss compulsive party giver Subbirami Reddy, Indian Olympic Association chief Kalmadi, sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan and danseuse Sonal Mansingh were all there soaking in the hospitality.

With big and small political personalities in Lucknow, Uttar Pradeshs chief minister Mulayam Singh twice made an appearance, along with some of his cabinet colleagues and former CM Kalyan Singh, who has returned to the Bharatiya Janata Party.

State governor Vishnu Kant Shastri, union agriculture minister Rajnath Singh, Vishwa Hindu Parishads Vinay Katiyar and state politicians like Kalraj Mishra, Lalji Tandon, state revenue minister Ambika Chaudhari, mayor SC Rai also graced the occasion, not to mention former and serving central and state bureaucrats.

If one felt a bit lost in the star-studded jamboree, one can take heart from the fact that for every star, there were at least three super-stars present. A fine example of this can be this correspondent sharing the same flight with the likes of HRD minister MM Joshi, film director Satish Kaushik and former union telecom minister Ram Vilas Paswan.

No wonder, an impressed, Kunal Dasgupta, CEO of Sony Entertainment TV India, said, "This is awesome. It looks like the opulent wedding of some 17th or 18th century king."

What would it have cost Subrata Roy to unleash this mega show? Your guess is as good as ours as the figures range between Rs 2000 million and Rs 4000 million. Take your pick.

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