Indo-Asian News Service
Mumbai, April 20 (IANS) Colour, confusion and crowds... It was every bit the grand filmy wedding as Abhishek Bachchan, astride a horse, wearing an off-white sherwani and a white turban bedecked with flowers, arrived on a hot Friday evening to wed his Aishwarya Rai.
Bollywood's power couple finally tied the knot in a grand ceremony that held much of the nation in thrall - never mind if the only details of the closely guarded event that filtered out were grainy zoom shots from TV cameras stationed across the road.
Aishwarya reached the Bachchans' Juhu residence Prateeksha in a silver Mercedes decorated with flowers along with her mother and brother.
At almost the same time, the barat left the other Bachchan bungalow Jalsa nearby, with a visibly anxious Amitabh Bachchan, complete with a saffron turban, ushering his guests into the waiting Volvo buses that would take them to the wedding venue.
His face covered with a sehra of white flowers, Abhishek did a small jig before getting off the bus and waving cheerily and then getting on to his horse again at Prateeksha.
While photographers scrambled to train their cameras at the goings-on, curious stargazers climbed up trees, railings and even hoardings to get a first-hand view.
Amid the sea of saffron turbans sported by the baratis, several close friends like yesteryear actor Danny Denzongpa, industrialist Anil Ambani and director Goldie Behl could be seen.
The Bollywood celebrities who arrived to bless the couple also included Sonali Bendre, Preity Zinta, Karan Johar, Ajay Devgan and Kajol.
With so many high-profile guests, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, at least 1,000 security personnel swarmed both the flower bedecked Bachchan homes. The road outside Prateeksha was blocked.
Friday's wedding was the climax of three-day festivities that included a sangeet and a mehndi ceremony that were equally secretive.
The buzz around the Abhi-Ash marriage started last year and had been steadily getting louder even though the Bachchans never announced it officially because they wanted to keep it a private affair.
TV shots and newspaper pictures of guests, who kept floating in and out of their house from Wednesday, were the only proof that the big fat Indian wedding was finally taking place.
Both the Bachchan residences were turned into fortresses and for the uninvited, getting in was next to impossible.
The Bachchans not only took care of their own privacy, they were thoughtful enough not to disturb their neighbours - the lawns at the venue were covered with soundproofed, air-conditioned tents.
Members of the film fraternity who made it to the guest list showed cooperation towards the first family of Bollywood - none of the invitees breathed out a single detail about the wedding.
"They have invited all those people who are emotionally close to them," Amar Singh said in an interview to a TV channel in an apparent explanation for some conspicuous absentees like neighbour Hrithik Roshan and all the Khans.
Fans and mediapersons who had logged on to Aishwarya's official site also faced disappointment as they found it temporarily closed.
"This site is temporarily unavailable. Please do not call or e-mail but check back again next month. Thank you," said a message apparently posted by Aishwarya.
Whether the wedding of the year was accessible to all or not, the couple's many fans just hope that they live happily ever after...