By Kahini Iyer
It feels like only a few months ago that we experienced (secondhand, natch) the magic of Isha Ambani’s nuptials with industrialist heartthrob, Anand Piramal. It began with the elaborate invitations, whose unboxing videoswere roughly as long as an episode of Game of Thrones. There followed a steady stream of public congratulations, and sentimental poetry that was, lamentably, put into print. The media it seems, has not tired of speculating breathlessly on Ambani weddings, as they’ve gone hunting for the next off-the-wall Ambani affair, complete with a trio of dancing Khans and a million photo ops with Nita ben. They’ve got their chance now that Isha’s twin brother Akash and Shloka Mehta, who is a humble diamond heiress worth mere millions, are tying the knot.
It’s an inspiring story of love that has already graced us with, yes, more poetry in the form of a wedding invitation (sample line: “you are the light in our Akash, you illuminate our every Shloka”), and a Harry Potter themed pre-wedding event that looked like an off-brand Cirque du Soleil. There were performing acrobats, witches’ hats for the attendees, the requisite hashtag. No doubt the same bots who were hired to fawn over the Isha-Anand wedding pictures on social media will be out in full force, trying desperately to make #AkuStoleTheShlo a thing.
Just like we all know that Donald Trump, described by Vanity Fair as “a poor man’s idea of a rich person”, thinks of McDonald’s burgers as gourmet cuisine, we have also become aware through months of shaadi-related publicity that the Ambani family’s taste is simply average. These are, after all, the same people who made Beyoncé fly all the way to Udaipur just to make her sing “Crazy in Love” and then danced to G-U-J-J-U.
Akash and Shloka are following closely in their footsteps along the road most travelled. Before their half-hearted version of a Harry Potter party, the happy couple threw another pre-wedding bash, where guests were entertained by the stylings of Coldplay’s Chris Martin (the guy who sang with local popstar Ananya Birla that one time) and the Chainsmokers (Calvin Harris, but worse and there are two of them). Do I even need to mention that this all took place in St Moritz?
I know, I know. The Ambani kids, with their pots of unearned money and public personas, are soft targets for criticism — especially from those of us whose middle-class life aspirations consist of paying the rent and shopping online without the “price: low to high” filter. Most of us would love to throw an excessive, month-long wedding, if only because it would mean we could afford it.
But would we really do it like the Ambanis, whose most fun moment in recent memory was when youngest son Anant shared an Instagram pic with girlfriend Radhika Merchant, dressed in adorkable green druid robes?
Before we get carried away here, let’s allow some self-awareness to kick in. For us petty mortals who barely have two 2000-rupee notes to rub together, the Ambanis’ propensity for being totally square can be frustrating. If we had that much money, we think, we’d get married at Burning Man, forget monstrous sangeet stages, while an undiscovered rapper performed a hip-hopera behind us. Our open bar would be free of tacky signature cocktails, serving only cutting-edge molecular gastronomy drinks and old fashioneds. And we wouldn’t be caught dead wearing Sabyasachi when we could show off our eco-feminist cred in a pantsuit crafted from vintage silk saris.
Of course, this is also why we hipsters have no money to support our artsy (read: overpriced) lifestyles, while the Ambanis, with their dynasty built on mass appeal, are filthy rich. The rest of us have spent time and effort cultivating our tastes, craving the social cache that comes with being seen as informed, smart, cool — from invitations to parties to recommendations for jobs. But would you really go to the trouble of developing a personality if you had billions in the bank? The Ambanis, like the Trumps, further prove to us plebs that when you’re filthy rich, you don’t need to be interesting.
Plus, is it fair to judge them alone, when there are plenty of people out there who earnestly cite Akon as their favourite hip-hop artist? Or when we all know grown adults who still think the best vacations are to be found in Disneyland? There are countless other couples whose idea of being edgy is having a photobooth with an assortment of cheesy props at their sangeet, and who film cringe-worthy engagement videos in Bali — they just aren’t as high-profile as the Ambanis.
At the end of the day, the determinedly bourgeois tastes of India’s richest family are a reflection of our own, most basic selves.