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Knot a small affair

Television weddings are no longer just a happy family celebration,as big money enters the picture.

Written by Somya Lakhani | Mumbai | Published: March 18, 2011 9:19:10 pm

Television weddings are no longer just a happy family celebration,as big money enters the picture.

THE fragrance of flowers and freshly cooked savouries wafts out to greet visitors at the Arora Farms,located in Delhi’s Chattarpur area. If you follow the aroma,it’ll take you to a house,decorated with lights and kilos of genda phool. A giant shamiana is being erected on the lawn. This where a shy Inderpal Singh Sehgal will slip a diamond ring onto Jasmeet Kaur Gaba’s finger. It isn’t just any other Delhi wedding; it is,in fact,Imagine TV’s latest offering,Shaadi 3 Crore Ki — the first middle-class wedding to be televised as entertainment to thousands of viewers.

The wedding season is back on Indian TV to seduce viewers with dance,drama and whopping sums of money. On the one hand is Jaipur-based Rashi,gushing in her Swarovski-studded lehenga,on NDTV Good Times’ Band Baaja Bride. On the other hand is actress Ratan Rajput covered in kundan jewellery from head to toe,looking for a suitable husband on Ratan Ka Rishta on Imagine TV. NDTV Good Times’ The Big Fat Indian Wedding,which flew the viewers to exotic locales for “upmarket” weddings featuring Bollywood presence,promises more of the same in its soon-to-air second season.

Wedding shows have always attracted the audience — be it ‘bad girl’ Rakhi Sawant’s hunt for a husband on Rakhi Ka Swayamwar or Rahul Mahajan’s televised wedding on Rahul Dulhaniya Le Jayega. Nikhil Madhok,Senior Director,Marketing,Imagine TV,explains,“We realised that everytime there is a wedding on fiction shows,the TRPs rise. It was then that we decided to use this formula in reality shows. It works without fail as every one loves a good wedding.” Sawant too believes that “everyone loves the dance,costume drama and the shaadi gossip”,while Rahul Mahajan feels “it is an integral part of Indian culture and appeals to an entire family,not just one particular age group.”

One big reason why people watch these shows is the money involved. After all,the recent Tanwar wedding,which cost an estimated Rs 250 crore,got enough people talking. “Viewers get attracted to the huge amount of money that people spend in weddings and the extremes they are ready to go to. It’s either star-power or money that works,” says Neelam Raturi,producer of Band,Baaja,Bride.

Money can certainly create fireworks as is evident by the tug-of-war between the Sehgals and Gabas of Shaadi 3 Crore Ki. Having made the massive leap from Rs 8 lakh to Rs 3 crore,the familes of the bride and groom find themselves in money-related tension on national TV. The title,with its brazen announcement of the money involved,indicates that the drama is not lost on the producers. “The reason we named it Shaadi 3 Crore Ki is because the money symbolises the ostentation and scale of the wedding. The three crores simply indicate what the viewers should expect — a lavish and spectacular wedding,” explains Madhok.

Shows like this have influenced the popular mindset. Many now want a lavish wedding. For instance,Rajput confesses,“Before my TV days,I used to get very excited and curious about these weddings on TV shows and secretly I wished for it too and now it’s happening.” Others echo a similar desire for a grand celebration. “I saw Rahul Dulhaniya Le Jayega on TV last year and I dreamt of a similar,extravagant wedding affair. I feel like a celebrity now,” says 23-year-old Sehgal,the middle-class groom in Shaadi 3 Crore Ki.

While many are rejoicing with the TV brides and grooms,47-year-old Delhi-based,Archana Singhal,mother of a 24-year-old is not pleased with this TV trend. “I never watch these shows — they give unrealistic expectations to the youth and it’s not necessary that every family will be able to afford Rs 3 crore to spend on a wedding,” she says. She is probably right. 26-year-old Sapna Singh,based in Chandigarh,got married eight months ago,but not in the way she had hoped for. She says,”I am an avid fan of The Big Fat Indian Wedding and I wanted a ‘rich’ wedding — complete with Bollywood celebs in Bangkok or Bali. But for that you need a money plant in your garden,which I did not have. It still saddens me — it was the most important day of my life.”

While,the Ratans and Jasmeets live every bit of their dream on the small screen,the rest of us can only enjoy TV’s moneymoon.

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