When Rishi Kapoor had tea with Dawood Ibrahim

Highlights

  • In a forthcoming autobiography, the actor opens up on the Don and depression.
  • 1988 was the first time when the actor met Dawood in Dubai.
  • When his film ‘Karz’ didn’t work out, Rishi Kapoor sank into a deep depression.

 

A still from the movie ‘Karz’.A still from the movie ‘Karz’.
Along with the good, fame has also brought me in contact with people of dubious character. One of them was Dawood Ibrahim. The year was 1988. I had landed in Dubai with my closest friend, Bittu Anand, for an Asha Bhosle-RD Burman night. Dawood always had a man at the airport to keep him posted on VIP movement. When I was leaving the airport, a stranger walked up to me and handed me a phone. He said, ‘Dawood sa’ab baat karenge (Dawood sa’ab would like to talk to you).’ Obviously, this was before the 1993 blasts in Mumbai and I didn’t think of Dawood as a fugitive on the run. He wasn’t an enemy of the state yet. Or, at least, that was the impression I had. Dawood welcomed me and said, ‘If there is anything you need, just let me know.’ He also invited me to his house. I was taken aback.

Later, I was introduced to a fair, pudgy guy who looked British. This was Baba, the don’s right-hand man. He said to me, ‘Dawood sa’ab wishes to have tea with you.’ I didn’t see any harm in that and accepted the invitation. That evening, Bittu and I were picked up from our hotel in a gleaming Rolls Royce. While we were being driven to his home, a conversation went on around us, in Kutchi. I don’t understand Kutchi but my friend did, and he realized that we were being driven around in circles, so we wouldn’t know the exact location of his house. Dawood, immaculately dressed in an Italian ensemble that wasn’t exactly a suit, greeted us warmly and apologetically explained, ‘I called you to tea because I don’t drink or serve alcohol.’ So, we had a tea-and-biscuits session for four hours. He spoke of a number of things, including some of his criminal activities for which he had no regrets. ‘I have carried out petty thefts but I have never killed anyone, though I have got someone killed,’ he revealed. He claimed to have had someone shot in a Mumbai court for lying. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was about someone going against Allah’s word and so they had to do it. He claimed, ‘I was Allah’s messenger, so we shot him through his tongue and then through his brain.’ Director Rahul Rawail later used this real-life incident as the basis of a courtroom murder scene in his film Arjun (1985).

Dawood also told me he’d loved me in the film Tawaif because my name in it was Dawood. Dawood was pleased that through the film I had (unwittingly) glorified his name. Years later, in Nikhil Advani’s D-Day, I once again played Dawood on screen. Dawood spoke of his fondness for my father, my uncles, Dilip Kumar, Mehmood, Mukri and other actors. I remember feeling rather fearful when I first arrived there, but as the evening progressed my anxiety melted away and I relaxed, and we shared innumerable cups of tea over four hours. He asked me again if I needed anything. His exact words were, ‘If you need anything at all, any money, anything, just feel free to ask me.’ I thanked him and said that we were well taken care of.

* * *

I met Dawood only once after that, in Dubai. I love buying shoes and I was with Neetu at a sprawling Lebanese store called Red Shoe Company. Dawood was there too. He had a mobile phone in his hand and was surrounded by eight or ten bodyguards. This time too he said, ‘Let me buy you whatever you want.’ I politely declined and said, ‘I appreciate your gesture but I’d like to do my own shopping.’ He gave me his mobile number, but I couldn’t offer one in return because this was in 1989 when we didn’t have mobile phones in India. Finally Dawood said, ‘I am a fugitive because I will not get justice in India. There are a lot of people there who are against me. There are also many in India I have bought. I pay several politicians who are in my pocket.’ I said to him, ‘Dawood, please leave me out of all this, yaar. I am an actor and I really don’t wish to get involved.’ He understood. He was always extremely nice to me and showed me a lot of warmth. But everything changed soon after. I don’t know what made him go after my country the way he did. I have had no interaction with him at all after that chance meeting at the shoe shop. But there have been some more encounters with members of his family. I made a film called Shreemaan Aashique which had music composed by Nadeem-Shravan and lyrics by Noora, Dawood’s brother, who had a flair for writing. I heard that Dawood’s cronies would wake Nadeem up at 2am. and say, ‘Noora wants to speak to you.’

Neetu on Rishi – It’s funny how I would get to know when he liked an actress a little more than he needed to. He used to drink whisky in the evening. Without realising that it was his wife he was confiding in and not a male buddy, he would disclose everything

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Rishi Kapoor is without a doubt one of the most interesting personalities we have in Bollywood. Time and again his Tweet go crazy viral, and why won’t they! Rishi’s take on things is particularly candid and open. No wonder the title of his biography is Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored. One excerpt from the book has been revealed and it will shock you. Rishi confesses that he has met Dawood Ibrahim, and this might give rise to some controversies.

Rishi, in his book recalls the time when got an invitation for tea from underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. So, what happened was that Rishi was on a vacation with his buddy Bittu Anand in Dubai. As the actor landed, and was about to exit the airport, a man approached them and handed over a phone. On the other side of the line was Dawood himself, inviting Rishi for a cup of tea. “That evening, Bittu and I were picked up from our hotel in a gleaming Rolls Royce. While we were being driven to his home, a conversation went on around us, in Kutchi. I don’t understand Kutchi but my friend did, and he realized that we were being driven around in circles, so we wouldn’t know the exact location of his house. Dawood, immaculately dressed in an Italian ensemble that wasn’t exactly a suit, greeted us warmly and apologetically explained, ‘I called you to tea because I don’t drink or serve alcohol,” Rishi narrates in his book.

The conversation that evening varied from topic to topic.  Dawood, Bittu, and Rishi talked about films, songs and crime.  “I have carried out petty thefts but I have never killed anyone, though I have got someone killed,’ he revealed. He claimed to have had someone shot in a Mumbai court for lying,” Dawood had told Kapoor.

While we cannot wait for this explosive autobiography ton hit the stands, Rishi Kapoor is not the only one coming out with a biography, and making revelations. Karan Johar too came out with his memoir, titled An Unsuitable Boy, and excerpts from the book have been making headlines, weeks before the books has been publicly released.

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Salman Khan’s most revelatory interview ever

Salman Khan may have turned 51, but he is ageless on screen

Salman Khan may have turned 51, but he is ageless on screen

The most rollicking interviews I’ve done with Salman Khan are the ones over drinks. Always at Galaxy Apartments. Always late at night. On one classic occasion, there was a power outage, so we talked by candlelight. While electricians struggled with the lights, a portly choreographer attempted to teach Salman the dance steps he was to perform at an awards show the next night. The actor didn’t do rehearsals. So the choreographer came home. Salman didn’t stir from behind the bar. He watched with a frown as the choreographer pranced around in the flickering shadows. “Okay, what’s next?” he asked impatiently. “Bang-Bang,” the choreographer said fearfully. “Bang-Bang woh kya hota hai?” Salman demanded incredulously. The choreographer explained. And Salman sent him packing. His glass of Bacardi and I were waiting.

This time, the lights are on at Galaxy Apartments and Salman’s lovely blue-eyed and blonde Romanian actress friend Iulia Vantur is present, elegantly sipping a glass of wine. The interview began at Film City on the sets of Tubelight. It was the last day of shooting in 2016. Director Kabir Khan had recreated a charming Ladakh village: it was old-world and had a wintry air. Salman was dressed in a sweater, though the temperature was an unpleasant 30 degrees Celsius. He had torn a ligament and limped off the set painfully at pack-up. “Let’s go home and have a drink,” he suggests wearily. His holiday had begun. First Christmas, then his birthday, and now New Year, all spent with the family at his Panvel farmhouse. He returns to Tubelight on January 6.

First action hero

On Tuesday, Salman quietly turned 51. He’s ageing, but the Bollywood superstar is ageless on screen, and the fans won’t have Salman Khan any other way.

“I don’t feel my age,” he tells me. “My mother says I’m stuck at 13! But I’ve started getting injured a lot more and I’ve started feeling the pain a lot more. I’ve had fractures, broken bones, strained muscles, torn ligaments, everything hurts, but I’m still working. I sleep for four hours. People who complain they can’t sleep don’t know what to do with the time they’re awake. I use that time. If I’m not shooting, I’m reading scripts, listening to narrations, sitting on music, meeting lawyers, attending to the Being Human Foundation, or partying! My doctor says, ‘Don’t be Rambo!’ But I can’t stop working. I believe you grow old and feel your age when you start getting tired, when you’re bored with life, unenthusiastic about your work and when you lose that get-up-and-go impulsiveness. You need to be happy, excited and interested all the time. You need to be on the move. And don’t leave even one pore in your body open for the old man to get in. If you do, the old man will take over your life!”

This interview had to be rescheduled thrice. And it appeared iffy the fourth time too. But I knew it would happen. Salman is like that. “Ek baar jo maine commitment kar di …” and all that.

On the sets of Tubelight, there were the old and infirm hopefully clutching letters from doctors: his Being Human Foundation takes care of thousands of life-saving surgeries in the biggest hospitals of Mumbai. Civic officials wanted his sanction for the construction of toilets in Aarey Colony where defecation is done in the open. He’s the poster boy for their Swachh Bharat Abhiyan campaign. Salman listened to their requirements, quietly doing the math in his head, working out how many toilets were required for a slum of 3,500 families. “You’ll pay for the toilets?” the civic team asked. He agreed without hesitation. Strangers came up for jobs. Attractive young girls, all die-hard fans trembling with excitement, asked for selfies. An impoverished woman waited with a dirty little girl wearing a tattered Sultan tee. The child held a pastry in her grubby hands. The woman didn’t want a selfie, she didn’t possess a cell phone, they just wanted to wish Salman for his birthday. His eyes lit up.

Impressed and touched by all this though I was, I was glad to get away to Galaxy Apartments for that drink. I’ve seen it before. Salman donates large sums in the blink of an eye without question if it’s for charity. He once said that if somebody was dying and money could save that person’s life, he would provide the money. I know that’s true. He accepts thanks from nobody. He tells people who express gratitude, “You took what was already yours from me, that’s your naseeb.” He’s notoriously large-hearted. But he’s also a simpleton. And people scam him all the time. Some park a hundred metres away from Galaxy Apartments, where his father sits in the garage signing cheques, they remove their watches and jewellery, and come with hands outstretched and tears in their eyes. A few abuse him when he sees through their game and turns them away. Others fall prey to brokers who promise them access to Salman’s limitless funds.

Give and take

I think he conducts the business of being Salman Khan like a mom-and-pop-store. Putting what he earns into one pocket and providing out of the other. “Do you know what you’re worth? What money you make? How long can you keep doing this?” I ask.

“When I was nothing, I had nothing,” Salman replies. “I don’t think of the future. My time is now. And I will do whatever I can do. Money, anybody can earn. But a name like mine, to be the universal ‘Bhai’ to everyone, that’s difficult. I go with what’s happening. And I try to take it to the next level. Doing charity isn’t about giving money. It’s about holding out a hand, offering a smile, charity is about kindness. Being Human is about being there.”

I remind him: “But people uncharitably say you’re doing all this to clean up your image.” He shrugs. “It’s my money whether it comes from films, my clothing lines, jewellery range, whatever. And I’d rather it goes into healthcare and education than my pocket. I’m paying rent for my time on earth. The universe is like the IT Department. It can raid you anytime. Before that happens, I’m paying my taxes. People will talk. Tomorrow if I lose everything, they will also say, ‘God gave him so much, the fool went and squandered it all.’ I tell them, even if all this is a con game and I’m trying to clean my image, I’m still giving – not taking. Dude, you try and do it. But I wish I’d started earlier. Now I’m meeting people who are good and clean, know their job and want to do nice things. I’m tying up with like-minded people. I regret I didn’t meet them earlier. But who would trust me when I was younger? It’s hard to make people have faith in you when you’re 25!”

“What space are you in right now?” I ask. “You’re 51, what’s on your mind?” Salman laughs. “People see me romancing heroines, they see me horsing around on TV reality shows even though I might have a court appearance the next day, I’m attending parties, spotted entering or leaving the airport, celebrating a film’s release, they think I’m chilled out. But all this is my job. And I have to do it no matter how messed up I am in the head. The truth is, I’m in an agitated space. A court appearance affects my whole family. But it’s like a sword over my head. It keeps me in check. Under control. If I didn’t have it, I would have taken off! The positive side is that there’s an awareness because of me. That drinking and driving is not cool. People think, ‘If it could land Salman Khan in jail, what are we?’ That doesn’t mean I look forward to a court date. But it’s a blast for the media. I believe four or five days go into planning stories. How do you send the TRPs up? By making capsules on all my wrongdoings! Anytime there’s an accident involving a celebrity, I’m dragged out and showcased all over again. There are days when I don’t want to leave the house. But I need to go out and work because a lot of people earn their living off me. It helps that I enjoy my work.”

I am not into diets, I only eat ghar ka khana: Salman Khan

latest salaman khan photo in action

latest salaman khan photo in action

Old is for other people

We talk about films. I want to know how long he’ll continue to play the endearing superstar, the blazing action hero. Amitabh Bachchan famously retired when he turned 50, and then came back with meaningful character roles. Aamir Khan has just set the bar in Dangal for the Bollywood Khans to play ageing fathers to grown-up girls. Would Salman consider, say, being the screen father of Tiger Shroff? “Tchah!” he says disdainfully. “I played a father in Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai when I was in my 30s. I’ve been there and done that. And in my next film, I’m playing the father to a 13-year-old girl. It’s a film about dancing. Like the Hollywood Step Up franchise. I’m going to be a properly trained dancer. You know how painful that is? Sultan was also painful. I had to lose 18 kilos of muscle. I’m not into diets. I eat ghar ka khana. And I don’t eat for taste. As soon as I’ve got my proteins and carbs, I leave the table. So, to lose 18 kilos of muscle was the most difficult thing on the earth. But I’ve always believed that effortless hard work should be seen on-screen. And that’s what I’ve been doing from Wanted to Sultan. I don’t see myself doing character roles. So what if I’m 51? Stallone is still Rocky and Rambo at 70. Filmmaking is the most beautiful industry. We sell dreams. Why shouldn’t I live mine?”

I ask: “For an actor who’s a very private person you give a lot of yourself in Bigg Boss. How much of that is your personality? The show is not a hit, yet you do it season after season, why – for the big pay packet?” Salman replies: “No, I do it for the connect with the aam aadmi. That’s the power of television. When I did 10 Ka Dum, I was scared, but I decided to do it my way. There was no better way of doing it than by telling my story. Siddharth Basu held his head and said, ‘My show!’ But the Israelis who conceptualised 10 Ka Dum said it was the best thing that happened. Same way with Bigg Boss. A person’s personality comes out in conversation. The moralisms are not part of the script, that’s my life, my advice may be crooked, but it works. Later on, I see the show and wonder, ‘Did I really say that?’ Morally, ethically, principally, I may not be correct, but a lot of people think like me. The thing is, TV connects with the people. And for them Bigg Boss is phookat entertainment. They hold the remote in their hand. If you can stop them from switching channels, you’ve arrived.”

Late night has become early morning. The drinks continue to flow like his conversation, unplugged. But Salman is used to this. Night after night, he stands at his bar drinking and smoking, and entertaining friends. He sleeps late and gets up early. I wonder how the man in the mirror greets him the next day. “He tells me what to do,” Salman grins. “Everybody gets old and dies. Life is about how much you can delay this. You can accept what the man in the mirror tells you and take a decision then and there. I push it for later. That’s because I know I’ve done it before. But then I have to train harder, abuse my body more. What you keep telling your body, the mind listens to. I should know. How do you think I got to be 51?”

Meanwhile, the lovely Iulia Vantur who Bollywood hopes Salman Khan will marry in 2017 listens. She has kicked off her shoes and is at home. I don’t ask him about marriage. He’s still the most eligible 51-year-old bachelor in the world. The man in the mirror has accepted this and so has Iulia, I think.

 

***

Meet Sultan, the drug supplier

In the world of substance abuse, code words rule. Alia Bhatt is cocaine, Kangana is afeem and Nargis Fakhri is ecstasy

When the underworld in Mumbai, which speaks its own language, refers to ‘Sultan’ on the phone, you can be sure that a drug deal is being struck and the ‘Sultan’ in question isn’t Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, but the supplier or organiser of the drugs. This hot tip comes from police sources in Mumbai’s Crime Branch. Tapped phone conversations earlier had the cops wondering what the men they were after meant when they said that “‘Sultan’ is always late” and “the last time ‘Sultan’ proved a box office hit”. But the cops soon broke the code. Subsequently, they discovered that it wasn’t just Salman Khan who was favoured by the drug dealers of Mumbai, but also Bollywood’s other stars. And the stars’ names were used to identify the following:

 

* Ranveer Singh: Peddler

* Ranbir Kapoor: Host

* Alia Bhatt: Cocaine

* Kangana Ranaut: Afeem (a poppy derivative)

* Katrina Kaif: Smack

* Priyanka Chopra: LSD

* Anushka Sharma: Hashish

* Nargis Fakhri: Ecstasy

***

Bookies on Salman’s marriage

Bets are being taken on who will be Mrs Salman Khan in 2017

This classic race may be considered the Bollywood Derby. What do bookies in Mumbai do when cricket, and especially the IPL, is not the flavour of the season? They look at Bollywood. And bets are currently being taken on which actress is likely to become Mrs Salman Khan in 2017. There are five names in the reckoning. Buzz is that the English Amy Jackson, who was a hot favourite some time ago, is suddenly not seen around Salman after the Romanian Iulia Vantur returned to his life. Among the also-rans are the actor’s prodigies: Zarine Khan, Sonakshi Sinha and Elli Avram. Here are the front runners and the odds that bookies are offering on them:

* Iulia Vantur: 25 paise

* Amy Jackson: 40 paise

* Sangeeta Bijlani: 1 rupee

* Katrina Kaif: 2.50 rupees

* Zarine Khan: 4 rupees

This is not the first time bookies have made money off Salman Khan. Earlier, bets were being taken and big money was being placed on what the actor’s sentence would be in his respective court cases.

 

Yuvraj Singh-Hazel Keech’s wedding: Inside pics from haldi ceremony


Yuvraj Singh and Hazel Keech’s wedding has been a topic of discussion ever since the duo got engaged in November last year. And now, the big day has finally arrived when Yuvi and Hazel will be man and wife.

The celebrations are on in full swing in Chandigarh. The morning started with the haldi ceremony, which would be followed by the Gurudwara wedding. The wedding ceremony will only have Yuvi-Hazel’s near and dear ones in attendance, with as many as 15 bodyguards providing security to the venue.

We got our hands on some pictures from the haldi ceremony as well as from the wedding venue. Take a look.

 

Gaurav and Akanksha’s starry wedding in Kanpur

Tere Bin actor Gaurav Khanna and Swaragini actress Akanksha Chamola tied the knot at a glittering ceremony in Gaurav’s hometown Kanpur on Thursday night. In attendance were the couple’s friends from the small screen inlcuding Hussain Kuwajerwala and his wife Tina, Puja Bannerjee with her rumoured beau Kunal Verma, Anuj Sachdeva among others.

Dressed in a blue brocade sherwani and weilding a sword, Gaurav also wore a `100 mala and sat prudly on the ghodi as his friends danced in the baraat. Puja, the most enthusiastic of the lot, danced along as the baraat headed towards the wedding venue. She later also a posted a pic of the baraat on social media and captioned it as, “Lo chali mai apne khanna ki baarat leke.”

At the venue, the dulha was greeted by his in-laws Rajendra and Sheela. The short wait for the dulhan to arrive had Hussain, Tina and Puja shake a leg on popular hits on the dance floor. Soon, the bride arrived looking resplendant in a gold lehenga. Meanwhile, Gaurav’s parents Vinod and Shashi Khanna could hardly contain their emotions during the wedding.

On Wednesday, Gaurav and Akanksha’s engagement was just as funfilled with dance performances by almost everyone. Hussain and Tina, who had rehearsed for their performances well in advance, danced on a mashup. They were joined by Anuj on stage. But the best was saved for the last as Akanksha danced to Kaala Chashma.

 

Monsoon wedding tips

The thought of having a monsoon wedding sounds romantic and exciting at the same time.However, as planners, there are some concerns that you need to tackle to make it a smooth affair.

Here’s highlighting the major issues that people getting married this season face with, along with possible solutions for a hassle-free and memorable ceremony:

-Avoid open venues
Although open air wedding venues like lawns or pool sides look ecstatic, since no one can recreate nature so beautifully like it does for itself. However, with the way the weather is, one never knows just when it starts pouring. Opt for enclosed venues like banquets or halls, as sudden showers are not very pleasant when you are dressed to the ‘T’. You wouldn’t want a wedding where everyone start running helter-skelter in between the ceremony to look for cover.

Tip: To recreate the feel of an outdoor wedding, choose a place that has large glass windows or walls, with scenic exteriors. It will not just get dreamy as it starts pouring, but the guests will thank you for the beautiful arrangement.

-Enough parking space
When choosing the venue, make sure you go for places that provide ample parking for visitor vehicles. This will ensure that your guests comfortably park their cars and need not struggle in the rains, to reach the venue.

-Avoid flower decor
Indeed, floral decoration looks the best when it comes to weddings. A venue decorated with exotic flowers can have an enigmatic charm on the guests. However, flowers make enclosed venues slightly claustrophobic with their fragrance; moreover since a lot of guests will also bring along flowers for the couple. Similarly, flowers also attract small insects and crawlies that are not very pleasant during monsoons, considering they would be confined within the venue and can disinfect the food and drinks.
Tip: Instead, try innovative decor options like origami, curtains, lights, candles, glassware, umbrellas, etc. that can make for some really quirky decor.

-Constant power supply
Monsoons are known to lead to sudden electrical breakdowns due to bad weather. Make sure you have all the necessary arrangements to tackle a power cut since you wouldn’t want a blackout on the most important day of your life. It is very important to have a provision of an inverter or preferably a generator at the wedding venue. Most monsoon weddings have to be supported by an external power supply.

-Ensure quality food
Monsoons bring along a brigade of food allergies; hence it is of utmost importance to check and recheck the quality of food being served. You need to ensure that the hotel or catering service is using top quality products. Also, make sure you avoid including dishes that have leafy veggies as ingredients like palak paneer, green chicken, hara bhara kebabs, etc as leafy veggies are high on infections due to the conditions they are grown in. Avoid risky sea foods like shrimps and an overdose of non-vegetarian preparations, as meat too leads to a lot of stomach infections this season.
Tip: Do not over order, as the attendance at monsoon weddings is usually low, due to the weather and inconvenience to commute.

-Keep rain wear handy
Make sure you are ready with your rain-gear; be it umbrellas, raincoats, wind cheaters, etc. Even if it is an enclosed venue, a lot of weddings involve things like the pheras in an open space; in fact a lot of churches and their peripheries are not completely covered. Even if it is as small a distance as 10 meters till you reach your car or the aisle or the mandap, make sure you have umbrellas and raincoats handy since you don’t want even the rain to spoil things around you.

-Stay healthy
Monsoons are that time of the year when everyone’s prone to various seasonal affected disorders. Be it a common cold, flu, hay fever or something as serious as pneumonia or jaundice; make sure you stay away from all these. You need to be healthy for your wedding, hence take care of yourself in every possible way to make sure you are in the pink of health on your most special day. Don’t ignore a cold or cough, avoid street food, stop drinking cold water, etc. These small lifestyle changes before your wedding will help you stay healthy and fit.

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Good wedding venues hard to get during ongoing marriage season

If you or your dear ones plan to tie the nuptial knot in the state capital during the ongoing winter marriage season and haven’t yet finalized the venue, you have a tough task ahead even if you have deep pockets. For, almost all the community halls, banquet halls, hotels and playgrounds of schools and various localities are fully booked till December 15. Even though charges for the same and related services have gone up substantially compared to last year, no one seems to be complaining about having to spend big bucks for the once-in-a-lifetime event.

Hotel Maurya remains the most favourite address for the elite of the society for marriage purposes. All its seven halls and two open spaces meant for the event are booked till December 15. “We have taken 100% advance payment and have no scope for further booking. Our package includes food, service and venue,” said PB Thapa, food and beverage manager of the hotel. For bookings, the hotel needs a minimum of 18 guests, while the maximum number can go up to 1,500 at its biggest space. A substantial increase in the cost of food – the charge for vegetarian and non-vegetarian ‘thalis’ having gone up to Rs 1,290 and Rs 1,400 from Rs 1,150 and Rs 1,250 respectively – has had no impact on people wanting to hold the event at the most posh address of the city.

Hotel Chanakya is also fully booked till December 15. “All our four halls with the capacity to accommodate up to 300 guests have been booked till December 15,” said Nalini Dayal, assistant manager of the hotel. It has introduced Bengali and Rajasthani dishes especially for the wedding season, and increased the cost of its ‘thali’ by Rs 100 compared to last year. Here non-veg and veg ‘thali’ is available for Rs 870 and Rs 750, respectively.

For those hard-pressed to find a good venue, there is a little bit of good news. The city’s only revolving restaurant, Pind Balluchi, has scope for booking in December at its banquet hall, having a capacity of 500, located at the 16th floor of Biscomaun Tower. “We are booked only on December 9 and December 11. We are charging only Rs 650 and Rs 800 for veg and non-veg ‘thali’, respectively. Along with snacks, desserts and main course, this restaurant is also providing barbecue, Chinese dishes, pasta and chaat.

Though there is no scope for tying the knot at the floating restaurant, this venue has become the first choice for exchanging rings. “We are booked throughout December for holding engagement ceremonies,” said Gajendra Singh, public relation officer, Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation. For booking the floating restaurant, one has to shell out Rs 10,000 for every two hours.

Besides hotels, almost all the clubs, community halls and banquet halls of the city are running full during this wedding season. New Patna Club, which allows booking for members and their relatives, is fully booked this year even though it increased its rates from Rs 7,500 for members and Rs 25,000 for member’s relatives to Rs 10,000 and Rs 35,000, respectively. This covers veranda, lawn, guest room, kitchen space and parking. “No booking is given to non-members,” said, Shakeel Ahmed, manager of the club.

Similarly, Shagun banquet hall at Dak Bungalow road charges Rs 1 lakh for booking. Amrapali banquet hall at Beer Chand Patel Marg charges Rs 500 for non-veg and Rs 475 for veg ‘thalis’ and has also been booked for the wedding season.

Chetan Jha, a resident of Kankarbagh whose wedding is on December 4, failed to get any suitable space. Thus, he has been forced to organize his wedding at a playground near his house. “Date for my wedding was finalized quite late, so when I went looking for space at various hotels and community halls, I was told that they were all booked, hence I decided to make arrangements at the open space in front of my house.”

Shivam Singh, a resident of Buddha Colony, who is getting married on December 6, is holding his wedding ceremony at the parking lot of his apartment. Similarly, many other people who failed to get booking for a good venue, have chosen playground of various schools in the city for the purpose.

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Rs.10 lakh on wedding venue decor

When it comes to setting up a stunning decor for their wedding venue, Bhopalites surely love taking the pricey route.

Wedding planners are busy thinking of new and exotic themes to set up the shaadi venue. Various themes such as waterfall, lord Krishna, peacock, moon, and Rajasthani, are much in demand. From cranes and hydraulic stages to exotic flowers – a lot of elements are being used to get the desired effect for the posh and affluent Bhopalites. And for high-profile guests, the welcome has to be equally grand, no? So, special performers and ushers are also being hired to escort the guests inside the venue. All this and more add up to apan ki big fat Bhopali shaadi!

Lavish themes in demand: Bhopal’s wedding planners
People are going out of their way to ensure that their wedding is the talk of the town. Says Syed Mohsin, a wedding planner at Rings And Roses, “People are shelling out big bucks for getting a decked-up thematic wedding venue. Lavish themes are in demand, according to which the entire venue is decorated. Themes such as water fall, lord Krishna, royal decor, peacock, etc, are very popular. The overall expenditure depends on the area of decoration. The cost starts from `5 lakh and can exceed according to the demands of the clients. This time, I have got orders for thematic decoration costing up to `10 lakh. When it comes to flaunting their classy taste, Bhopalites are not far behind their metro counterparts.”

A trend seconded by Nitigya Mehta, an event planner at Infanite Events, who adds, “The thematic decor involves the baaraat welcome, milan, entry of the bride and groom, along with lights and sound synchronised with the theme. For the varmaala, the stage is designed like a lotus or any other flower, and is a hydraulic one so that it can rotate. We use fireworks, colour-paper and flower shots that burst out in the entire surrounding. For flower shower, we also have a remote-controlled mini-airplane showering flower petals on the couple. The overall expenditure on such theme-based decoration can shoot up to `10 lakh, but Bhopalites are ready to pay that much to jazz up their ceremony.”

Kamal Bhandari, a wedding planner at Kreative Events, says, “Nowadays, colour-based themes are also in demand. In a single-colour theme, the lights, flowers, pandal, furniture, costumes of the artistes – everything reflects the same colour. All this can cost around `7-10 lakh, which is not a big deal anymore.”

Palace theme for a royal look
So what if kingship doesn’t exist in India anymore? One can always feel like a king and queen at their wedding! Says Akbar Khan, a wedding planner at Showcase Wedding Planners And Decorators, “Royal theme is a hit with Bhopalites this time. The budget of this theme shoots up to `8 lakh, which includes transforming the venue into a palace. Props are used accordingly for the required effect.” Vishal Ajmera, a businessman who got married recently, shares, “I spent around `10 lakh on the venue decoration. I wanted my venue to look like a palace, with everything as regal as possible. I especially called wedding planners from Indore to get the desired result. All my friends and relatives were to attend the wedding, so I wanted things to be as grand as it gets. Elephants and camels were also brought in to add some royal touch to the shaadi!”

Rajasthani theme for a king-size shaadi
Sandhya Bothra, an educationist, whose son got married recently, says, “I wanted my son’s big day to be a grand affair. I asked the planner for a Rajasthani theme for the venue decor. The sangeet, mehndi and baaraat were all based on Rajwada theme.” Ashok Pariyani, a businessman, adds, “I had my son’s wedding recently that was based on the palace theme. The entire venue was decorated with chunari, bells, artefacts with mirror work, and lots of other Rajasthani elements. The ushers were also decked up in Rajasthani style to welcome the guests.”

 

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