What do you get the bride who has everything?
A performance by the pop star at Oberoi Udaivilas hotel in Udaipur — she played Crazy In Love and Perfect — was one part of the uber-lavish nuptials, involving two of India’s richest families, that has been labelled “the big, fat Indian wedding”.
The 37-year-old singer performed as part of the pre-wedding entertainment ahead of Wednesday’s ceremony, in which Isha Ambani marry Anand Piramal in front of guests including Hillary Clinton, James Murdoch, Indian cricket player Sachin Tendulkar and many big-name Bollywood actors.
Videos emerged of the set, which was like an (only slightly) down-played version of what a ticket-holding audience member at a stadium show might get.
It prompted lots of discussion online, with many who are unfamiliar with the bride and groom asking who exactly gets the privilege of having the world’s biggest pop star perform on their special day.
Two lovers, two very rich families
Ms Ambani, 27, is the daughter of Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India and the 19th richest in the world, according to Forbes. His net worth is estimated at $44 billion ($66 billion).
Mr Ambani is chairman of Reliance Industries, which began life in the 1960s as a small textile company. It later moved into oil and gas, and then, in the 1990s, telecommunications.
In the 2000s it went into retail, selling everything from homewares to fruit and electronics in 1300 shops across India. It now has 187,000 employees and brings in $60 billion a year.
Ms Ambani’s fiance Anand, 33, is the son of Ajay Piramal (estimated net worth: $4 billion). Mr Piramal senior founded the Piramal Group – and his son is now its executive director.
That company also started in textiles before expanding into telecommunications and pharmaceuticals.
The two clans have been close for decades, and both the bride and the groom have gone into their respective family businesses after gaining degrees from Ivy League universities in the US.
Many in India, where millions live in dire poverty, have closely followed the preparations. That included the couple’s engagement at the luxury Villa D’Este hotel on Italy’s Lake Como, attended by more than 600 guests and featuring a private performance by singer John Legend.
— TeluguOdu (@TeluguOdu) December 11, 2018
Now to Mumbai, and a billion-dollar home
The guest list for the wedding is expansive, reportedly forcing the event’s organisers to book out nearby hotels and create an app mapping out the activities.
Security was beefed up as the high-profile guests started arriving at Udaipur’s airport last week, said a source at the scene who asked not to be identified.
Outside, they were awaited by luxury sedans driven by chauffeurs wearing white uniforms and colourful Rajasthani turbans.
So far, guests have been entertained as part of the wedding sageet, a traditional set of events that take place before the official ceremony.
The formal nuptials will take place in Antilia, the compound-like Ambani family home in Mumbai.
The 37,000-square-metre building, in one of the world’s most expensive neighbourhoods, has 27 floors and a carpark that can accommodate 168 vehicles.
Valued at more than $1 billion, it is considered the second-most expensive property in the world, after Buckingham Palace.