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Alia Bhatt, Ranbir Kapoor’s truly intimate ceremony

The colour palette of the décor at Vastu, along with Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt’s outfits, reflected the warm, luminous, minimalistic affair their wedding felt like.

Earlier this year, a friend who also shoots and edits wedding videos, had a big fat Indian affair. The ceremony, in all its two-day and 200-plus-people glory, took place at Diggi Palace, Jaipur. But regality, grandeur, and luxury weren’t the only considerations for the choice of the venue.

Diggi Palace was next doors to her home. And she wanted to have the bidai from the place she was born and brought up in.

Another friend, who wanted to get engaged at her home, was disappointed when she realised her place can’t accommodate the grand function she had in mind. So her fiancé planned a surprise for her on the eve of their engagement ceremony — a safari-themed treasure hunt at her place, blending her love for both extremes: a jungle adventure and the cozy comforts of home.

Last two years of the pandemic have placed home and family in focus for many. A whole generation, many of whom had left their hometowns after college for better job opportunities, got the chance to bond with their families again, thanks to the pandemic.

Moreover, the unforgiving second wave of COVID-19 last year robbed many of their loved ones, prompting them to reassess their priorities. Add to that, the practice of scaled-down lockdown weddings, and a close-knit affair with family at home started making the most sense for even the post-pandemic weddings.

It also made the most sense to India’s hottest actors and stars, Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor, when they tied the knot at his ancestral bungalow Vastu in Mumbai on 14 April. While all celebrities insist their wedding would be an “intimate ceremony,” Alia and Ranbir’s actually felt like one.

Firstly, there was no attempt to either guard or announce the wedding. After the much-publicised wedding of Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai at the Bachchans’ bungalow Jalsa in 2007, Indian celebrities began shielding their ceremonies from public consumption. The protective streak got even more fierce at a time when visuals from a private affair could be splashed across social media within minutes. Words like ‘intimate’ were thrown around a lot to escape the social media scrutiny. While some carried out heist of a wedding after even denying their relationship for years (Rani Mukerji-Aditya Chopra, Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli), and some chose remote, inaccessible locations like Lake Como, Italy (Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh), there were also Priyanka Chopra-Nick Jonas who asked their guests to deposit their smartphones outside the venue Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur, presumably because they had an exclusive deal with Vanity Fair.

But Ranbir and Alia didn’t care too much about either hiding or selling their big day. When asked during the promotions of his father Rishi Kapoor’s final film Sharmaji Namkeen, Ranbir denied that the wedding is not in April (reports suggest that it wasn’t then, and it was preponed later). Similarly, when Neetu Kapoor was asked the details while she was promoting her reality show Dance Deewane Juniors, she said, “I wish it was true.” When asked to categorically deny or confirm, she responded in noncommittal fashion, “I don’t know. They live in their own worlds. If they decide to get married (in April), then great.”

But after the paparazzi captured the bride and groom’s families congregating for the mehendi function, there was little to hide. After the ceremony, when Neetu and her daughter Riddhima Kapoor Sahni were enquired about the date yet again, they confirmed, “Kal hai. Vastu mein.” No attempts were then made to go hush hush about the festivities. The next day, Neetu flaunted her mehendi to the paparazzi, mocked a reporter who wasn’t able to get the date out of her, and urged the media to “aaram se so jao” after the wedding wrapped up. Her pictures (especially of the one in which she’s dancing with Ranbir at the mehehdi) and videos were such a delight. They reflected the very mood of what the whole wedding felt like: Fun and easygoing.

Also, the fact that Ranbir and Neetu chose not to discuss the wedding during their professional commitments was in respect to Rishi Kapoor, who insisted on adhering to the occasion or purpose of the forum. Additionally, Ranbir has maintained his choice to be a private person, sans social media and a talent management agency. He kept repeating that the world would know once he’s married but won’t announce the Fdate beforehand.

There were no deals cracked and no star mileage milked in the case of this wedding. The closest professional parallel that came to it was Dharma Productions unveiling the promo of ‘Kesariya,’ a song from Alia and Ranbir’s upcoming maiden collaboration Brahmastra. “We wish them love and light,” wrote producer Karan Johar and director Ayan Mukerji, but then they forgot about the film, and attended the wedding in the capacity of Alia’s mentor and Ranbir’s best friend respectively. Interestingly, they were the only familiar faces from the industry, besides the family members of both Alia and Ranbir. Neetu posted on Instagram a portrait of the immediate families of the bride and the groom, and captioned it, “My family <3.” Then there was a portrait of the entire Kapoor khaandaan, that looked straight out of Kapoor & Sons (extended).

Ranbir was seen chilling and posing with his cousins, including Kareena Kapoor Khan, Karisma Kapoor, Aadar Jain, and Armaan Jain. Similarly, Alia posed with sister Shaheen Bhatt, and joined step-sister Pooja Bhatt and step-brother fitness trainer Rahul Bhatt in the family portraits.

The sibling revelry looked so relatable, and quite close in spirit to Farhan Akhtar and Shibani Dandekar’s wedding at the former’s Khandala farmhouse in February. Filmmaker-choreographer Farah Khan was seen dancing with cousin Farhan and his close friend Hrithik Roshan. She and brother Sajid Khan were also seen in a selfie with cousin Zoya Akhtar. The couple were also part of a family portrait that included Javed Akhtar and both his wives Honey Irani and Shabana Azmi, along with niece Farah and siblings-in-law Tanvi and Baba Azmi. In another picture, Anusha Dandekar was spotted shedding a tear during the wedding vows of her sister.

It would’ve been cool to see Kajol bonding with cousin Rani Mukerji at the latter’s wedding in Italy or Sonam Kapoor posing in a cousins-only photo with Arjun, Jahnvi, Khushi, Shanaya, Rhea and Harshvardhan Kapoor. While Sonam and Anand Ahuja’s wedding took place at the actress’ home, it felt like a red carpet event where the biggest stars, including Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Varun Dhawan, and Ranveer Singh hijacked the event on the dance floor. With Anil Kapoor dancing the night away with all of them, the event felt more like a celebration of his goodwill than his daughter’s wedding. Both the above families, like all families in the world, have had differences (and indifferences). But the annual Christmas lunch at the ancestral RK House in Chembur is a recurring reminder that the Kapoor khandan have historically always been invested in keeping their ties intact. While they may not be working together like Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor, and Randhir Kapoor did in Kal Aaj Aur Kal (1971), that doesn’t take away from their organic tendencies to draw towards the family when they need it the most.

It’s also been a tough few years for the extended Kapoor family. It started with the death of the Kapoor matriarch, Krishna Raj Kapoor, followed by the chain deaths of Ritu Nanda, Rishi Kapoor, and Rajiv Kapoor. So it’s only natural to see Ranbir holding up his father’s portrait at the mehendi function, and posing with uncle Randhir, days after having a public disagreement about the latter’s diagnosis of early dementia.

An equally moving picture was of Mahesh Bhatt hugging son-in-law Ranbir. It’s borderline poetic to this writer because of the similar public perception the two men have carried at the peak of their careers. Like Ranbir, Mahesh was often made out to be a womanizer, though a genius at his craft. Mahesh Bhatt hugging Ranbir Kapoor thus feels like a sweet redemption — for both men, each of whose public image has been soiled for right or wrong reasons.

I’m also glad there was no usual chatter around whether his exes, Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif, would be invited to the wedding. For once, a celebrity wedding wasn’t the noisy yet hushed affair it’s always made out to be. With practically over a dozen film personalities under one roof, the visuals from the affair weren’t the kaleidoscopic blur they were expected to be. The colour palette of the décor at Vastu and Ranbir-Alia’s wedding outfits reflected the warm, luminous, minimalistic affair their wedding felt like: ‘Intimate’ in its truest sense.