The Big Fat Ash-Abhishek wedding

With Abhi-Ash's not-so-ordinary wedding just around the corner, the buzz outside Prateeksha, the famous Bachchan residence, has reached a fever pitch. From excited fans to the media, everybody is snooping outside the main gate to get a glimpse of what's happening inside.

Abhishek Bachchan, the scion of Bollywood's first family, and Aishwarya Rai, one of the most beautiful women in the world, who got engaged in January following the premiere of their film "Guru", are set to tie the knot in the presence of close family members and friends at the Bachchan bungalow in the posh locality of Juhu, Mumbai.

No stone is being left unturned by the Bachchans for the upcoming nuptials.

From the 16-page gold-embossed wedding card to the Z-grade security ring with 300 guards and rumoured swipe cards for entry, the minutiae of the celebrity event have plunged all into a tizzy.

Though the April 20 wedding date has neither been confirmed nor denied by the two families concerned, ongoing hectic preparations are proof that the mega wedding is going to take place as scheduled.

The two Bachchan bungalows - Prateeksha and Jalsa - now resemble well-guarded fortresses and workers can be seen constructing the mandap (dais) within the bungalow premises.

The ceremonies are set to start from April 18 with mehndi (henna), followed by sangeet (music) the next day. According to reliable sources, a special kind of mehndi has been ordered for the ceremony, like the one brought by Liz Hurley for her marriage with Arun Nayar last month.

Aishwarya will wear a traditional hand-embroidered sari with intricate gold work on her wedding day, said the actor's favorite designer in an interview published on Tuesday.

Neeta Lulla said, she designed the sari and a red and gold embroidered flowing skirt and cropped blouse for the actor to wear at a "mehendi'' ceremony on Wednesday. In Indian weddings, mehendi, or henna, is applied in elaborate tattoos on the bride's hands and legs.


Lulla told Mumbai-based newspaper that while she had designed some of Rai's outfits, the actor would also wear a sari created by famous Indian designers Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla.

A red and blue air-conditioned tent with huge mirrors is being readied in a garden adjoining the Bachchan's suburban family home for what is billed as India's "wedding of the year.''

The sangeet preparations are apparently entrusted to Abhishek's sister Shweta Nanda. Shweta's friends are queuing up to her, as they want to perform to the song "Kajra-re" from "Bunty Aur Babli" for the ceremony..

Ace choreographer Sandeep Soparker has been roped in to teach dance steps to Abhishek's friends for the occasion Both Rai and Bachchan have been practicing a dance routine they plan to perform before a selected group of relatives and friends during a musical ceremony on Thursday, the daily said.

Security has been beefed up to 'Z' grade and over 300 guards are deployed to tackle any eventuality, like gatecrashers or crazy fans breaking in. Rumour has it that the guests will have to use swipe cards for entry.

Some last-minute invitees are being included in the guest list, this time from the bride's side. The wedding card along with boxes of cookies-chocolates is now being dashed off to the bride's filmmaker-friends along with a personal request from the bride to be, her mother or her secretary.

The wedding is going to be a close-knit affair as Amitabh's mother Teji Bachchan is ailing. Invitees have been sworn to secrecy about the wedding details and also about the contents and look of the wedding card, the dress code etc.

"The fact is every guest is under an unwritten oath of secrecy. We aren't even allowed to talk about the wedding among ourselves. I'm not even discussing it with my wife.

We're being offered money by sections of the media to divulge details. One newspaper, which wanted to be shown the wedding card, even offered me the equivalent of what I make for five days of shooting. I naturally refused," said an invitee.

Among those invited are director Yash Chopra, filmmaker Karan Johar, industrialist Anil Ambani and influential politician friends of the Bachchan family.

"I have not been invited to the wedding. Regardless, I wish the couple best," Shah Rukh Khan told Mumbai tabloid .

"The Bachchans have asked us to keep this wedding a private issue and therefore we are maintaining silence," said actor Suniel Shetty, who has been invited to the exclusive function.

Media reports said that jewellery for the Ash had been specially brought from eastern Kolkata city, while henna used to decorate the bride's hands came from Rajasthan state. The bride will also receive famed silk saris from the city of Varanasi, in northern Uttar Pradesh state.

The wedding card is embossed in gold and personally signed by the groom's father Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya's parents.

Gregarious pals of the Bachchans, like Karan Johar, have retreated into a shell, pretending to be immersed in work or shooting to avoid talking about the wedding.