By Arpana and Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Mumbai, Jan 15 (IANS) Dad Amitabh Bachchan is on cloud nine after son Abhishek announced he was marrying Aishwarya Rai - a decision that was hanging fire for more than a year.
Asked when the marriage would take place, Amitabh said: "Not right way. But yes, very shortly. Like every father I'm over the moon, specially at this juncture when Abhishek has delivered such a sledgehammer performance in 'Guru'."
The wedding is expected to take place in February.
"Amitabh Bachchan is so happy with this alliance that he himself called up a journalist and said, 'Congratulations, Abhishek proposed to Aishwarya and she has accepted'," a source close to the family told IANS.
The engagement Sunday evening of Bollywood's hottest couple puts at rest all speculation on whether the marriage will happen or not. Close friends feel that their love has withstood the long, rigorous test of time.
Apparently, some of family members were initially against the match but finally they also came around.
"Everybody - be it fans, media or family members - were against their marriage because of Aishwarya's flings in the past and the myth that she brings bad omen for her boyfriends. They warned Abhishek 'if you marry her your career will be ruined' and insisted that she is very unlucky.
"They tried to dissuade him by talking about their age difference (Abhishek is about to turn 31 and Aishwarya is 33) and that she is a manglik (born under a particular astrological configuration that the superstitious believe is not auspicious for the husband). But Abhishek didn't listen to anybody and withstood all the opposition," added the source.
Abhishek's first love story with Karisma Kapoor didn't have a happy ending. Before joining films he was dating the actress and they had got engaged too, but they later broke off over reported interference by Karisma's mother, former actress Babita, who didn't want her daughter to marry the then flop actor.
In 2005, Aishwarya came into his life after her break up with co-star Viveik Oberoi. Before that she had had an affair with Salman Khan.
Abhishek and Aishwarya appeared as lead couple in "Kuch Naa Kaho", "Dhaai Akshar Prem Ke", "Umrao Jaan" and the just released "Guru". In the first three films, their on-screen chemistry failed to impress and the movies sank without a trace. Thankfully, "Guru", released Friday, is making waves at the box office.
"They said that Abhishek should go with Rani Mukerji because they make a good couple. Some said that their romance is a mere publicity stunt but the fact of the matter is that they were waiting for a hit. Their marriage talk was going on for quite sometime; it didn't happen in the last few days," said the source.
The engagement took place at Amitabh Bachchan's residence and among those present at the ceremony were Aishwarya's family and industrialist Anil Ambani and his wife, Tina. Close friend Karan Johar was also there. Earlier, the 'roka' ceremony was performed at Aishwarya's house.
Asked about the whereabouts of the Bachchan family, who are reportedly in Ujjain in Rajasthan Monday, the source said: "It's difficult to say anything about them because it doesn't take them long to sit in a chopper and fly off to their desired destination."
Reports had been flying thick and fast for the past few months that an engagement was on the cards, particularly after Aishwarya accompanied Abhishek and his parents to perform rituals at a revered Varanasi temple.
Last February, Amitabh's brother Ajitabh Bachchan had told the media that he went to meet a Bangalore-based astrologer Chandrashekhar Swamy with the horoscopes of Aishwarya and Abhishek.
Apparently, Abhishek's octogenarian grandmother Teji Bachchan is keen to see him married.