First, there is the teaser. They make appearances in each other’s family photos. Next, the trailer, the intimate roka, followed by the close-friends-and-family-only engagement, top-secret mehendi and hush-hush sangeet, with all the photos ending up, accidentally-on-purpose, on MissBollyGossip.com. And finally, release day. The lead couple, dressed in the finest Sabya or Manish by the costume department, stares dreamily into each other’s eyes and/or laughs together as directed by the celebrity photographer hired to take exclusive images of the mega event. And an enraptured audience of a few million, which has been tweeting undying love for #RaAlia or #VicKat or whoever the couple of the moment is, sits back to enjoy the climax of yet another paisa vasool entertainer.
The Big Fat Bollywood Wedding is, in the immortal words of the Hindi film critic, a “family entertainer”. It has something for everyone: Drama, unforgettable clothes, and good, old-fashioned sentiment — all breathlessly live-tweeted. Admittedly, some of the appeal is in the thrill of seeing two beautiful and wealthy people come together in holy matrimony and — everyone secretly hopes — immediately generate fodder for the gossip mills with baby rumours, feuding in-laws and even conscious uncouplings. But the real reason anyone cares about these weddings is the same as why they watch a Bollywood film: Escape. With its glamorous cast — including guest and special appearances — extravagant outfits and gorgeous locations, a lavishly-produced Bollywood wedding guarantees a distraction from such distressing things as a pandemic, political mudslinging and the high price of lemons.
And the best part of all this? There will always be sequels. Because, as they say in the biz, picture abhi baaki hai, mere dost. Wedding bhi.