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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 April 2007, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Bollywood's biggest wedding stays small

By Monica Chadha
BBC News, Mumbai

Aishwarya Rai
The bride's hands will be decorated with henna on Thursday

The wedding is quite small and private by Indian standards - but it doesn't get bigger than this for Bollywood.

Established superstar Aishwarya Rai, a former Miss World, will tie the knot with fellow actor and rising star Abhishek Bachchan on Friday at the latter's residence in the western Mumbai (Bombay) suburb of Juhu.

Abhishek is the son of Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan and popular 1970s actress Jaya.

Prying eyes

The preparations are in full swing at the Bachchan's bungalow, Pratiksha ('Wait' in Hindi), where the main function will be held.

A temporary wooden structure is being built around the house to ensure that no prying eyes or cameras ruin the private moment for the family.

Security outside the Bachchans' bungalow
Keep out - security outside the bungalow

In addition, up to 400 security guards will be on duty to keep strangers out, says Capt Swarn Salaria, the head of Trig Force Guard Limited.

"It is going to be a very high profile marriage, various dignitaries like very big personalities from the film as well as political world will be there, family friends will also be participating in the marriage, for which we have made all the arrangements to ensure that the flow of people coming in and going out is not disturbed," Capt Salaria told the BBC.

The Bachchans have also reportedly requested neighbours with views over their bungalow not to allow any cameras or press into their homes.

Despite the secrecy, some details about the preparations are filtering out.


Aishwarya Rai's outfits, including the main wedding dress, are being designed by Indian fashion designer Neeta Lulla.

The bride's jewellery has been bought especially from Calcutta and special silk saris from the northern town of Varanasi have also been ordered.

Four-page invitations, embossed with two As, the couple's initials, have been signed by them as well as the entire Bachchan family.

Businessman Anil Ambani, his wife Tina, politician Amar Singh and Uttar Pradesh state chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav have been invited.

Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan
The couple got engaged in January

There are reports that the leader of Maharashtra state's powerful regional Shiv Sena party, Bal Thackeray, has also been invited and will attend.

Other invitees include close friends from the film industry, such as director Ramesh Sippy and son Rohan, director Yash Chopra and family, director Karan Johar, actors Ajay Devgan and wife Kajol, actor Sanjay Dutt and directors Goldie Behl and Apoorva Lakhia.

From Aishwarya Rai's side, her parents and brother along with his wife are expected to be present.

According to a friend of the family, the Bachchans want the wedding to be low-profile because the groom's grandmother is very unwell.

However, Hindu traditions are being observed and the festivities will begin on Wednesday with the sangeet (music evening) at the Bachchan residence.

Thursday will be the henna night - when henna is applied to the bride's hands. That will reportedly be held at Ms Rai's residence in Bandra, with the henna being brought in from Rajasthan.

Mrs Bachchan recently told an interviewer that she had always loved Aishwarya Rai. When asked if she though Ms Rai would make the perfect Mrs Abhishek Bachchan, she replied, "I think so".

Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai got engaged in January.

The two have appeared in a number of films together, but only one, Guru, has been a box office hit.

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