Does the secrecy around Bollywood weddings backfire? – #BigStory – Times of India


Weddings are the flavour of the season in the tinsel town and while we are yet to get over the love saga we witnessed in the wedding video of Shershaah couple Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani, the ‘gram is also flooded with pictures from the wedding ceremonies of Drishyam 2 director Abhishek Pathak and actress Shivaleeka Oberoi, and Ramesh Taurani’s daughter with her long time beau.
While Sid-Kiara continue to take our breath away with their post wedding appearances, the couple had been consistently dodging questions about their wedding till the D-day arrived. Such secrecy around celebrity weddings has been a commonplace in Bollywood and many other couples including Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli, Vicky Kaushal-Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh, Athiya Shetty-KL Rahul kept their lips sealed until after they tied the knot.

Celebs are even known to go the extra mile and make all those involved in wedding prep sign NDAs to prevent information leaking out to the press. And then there are some others like Abhishek-Shivaleeka, Dalljiet Kaur-Nikhil Patel who choose to share their special news with their friends and fans in the most unexpected ways.
The former has only led to more rumours, speculations and stories in the press that may or may not have been concurrent with the truth. In today’s #BigStory, we speak to the stars themselves, filmmakers, wedding planners and others involved in star weddings and find out what motivates them to keep their wedding a secret, the buzz around star weddings, whether the unwanted rumours and speculations can be avoided and more…

Why so secret?

Celebrities are public figures and enjoy a massive following. Their die-hard fans look out for even the most personal developments in the lives of the stars. And when it is a wedding, the curiosity is at another level. Why is it then that the stars maintain so much secrecy around their wedding when so much is already written and spoken about their relationship?

Abhishek Pathak’s father Kumar Mangat Pathak says it’s an individual’s choice. “My son Abhishek felt what is the point of hiding, so he declared when he was ready. If you go way back, Ajay and Kajol wanted to keep it private. There were only about 20 odd people at their wedding. So it’s really about individual choice.”

Actress Dalljiet Kaur who recently announced her wedding with beau Nikhil Patel was more than happy to share her good news with her fans. “I have seen the media in my good times and bad. I have dealt with the media even in the most controversial times in the last two decades. I think it’s like family to me,” she says. “It is something that I was very happy to share that we have been engaged and we have decided to marry. Might as well involve people in the celebration. It was a very conscious decision and I am very happy that I am receiving so many blessings and wishes, so many of my school friends have connected with me after years. So many have said that this gives them hope. All of this is so nice and I really want to embrace it.”

Mudrika Dhoka of Chandra Weddings has planned several lavish celebrity weddings. Having closely worked with stars, she believes being in the limelight and invasion of privacy and personal space is a gift for public figures. “Many a times the intimate sacred moments are a time where they want to celebrate with family and loved ones which is a justifiable emotion. So I believe it’s a personal choice which should be respected. But there is always a flip side to each scenario where curiosity creates the crumbs to mega excitement,” she tells ETimes.

Singer Rahul Vaidya, who tied the knot in the middle of the pandemic, says everybody has a right to privacy. “To each his own, but honestly Disha and I didn’t have any time to make any privacy arrangements. We wanted to keep it private, and even today, some people whom we didn’t invite feel left out. Ours was a lowkey wedding that became big because of the support of the media,” he says.

Naomi Datta recently produced Hansika Motwani and Sohael Khaturiya’s wedding documentary for Netflix. She believes a celebrity wedding is a private affair between two public figures. “It is their prerogative to share what they want to share. Because we live in an era of Instagram and oversharing, we might feel we are entitled to this information, but there are boundaries that even a public figure can set. Especially when it comes to one of the most important events in their lives,” she says.

Security consultant Yusuf Ibrahim has handled the security arrangements for several B-Town weddings including Shahid Kapoor-Mira Rajput, Sachiin Joshi-Urvashi Sharma, Varun Dhawan-Natasha Dalal, Alia Bhatt-Ranbir Kapoor, Vicky Kaushal-Katrina Kaif, Nayanthara-Vignesh Shivan among many others. “I really don’t know why they keep it a secret,” he says. “Probably because if it is known, fans may gather in large numbers. It’s not just about hiding from the media. Gathering of fans can cause security issues, crowd control issues for the police personnel and so much more chaos. And while they may be public figures, it is still a private affair. It’s their call on how to go about it. And irrespective of the arrangements, the media knows about the details in and out 3-4 days before the wedding.”

Actor Vipul Roy got married about a year ago in complete secrecy. “I had my own personal reasons for that,” he explains. “People didn’t know about my reasons and they kind of went ahead and accused me of hiding my marriage. There was nothing to hide, it was a very personal reason and a personal call that I took. I did spoil a few relationships in the media who are considered as friends, but if you’re friends then you have to know what a friend is going through. It does become an artist’s moral responsibility to be true to the media that is a bridge between an artist and fans, but whether to choose that medium at that particular point of time or not should entirely be an artist’s call as it is a personal event, it’s not about a movie or an OTT show.”

The buzz is inevitable

Be that as it may, the personal lives of celebrities will always be under the scanner and even their best efforts to keep some things under the wraps can prove futile.

Wedding planner Neha Seth Arora of Saffron String believes public figures, especially Bollywood and Hollywood stars, prefer to be in control when it comes to their weddings as they are always under the paparazzi’s radar. “As soon as news of an upcoming celebrity wedding breaks, everyone rushes to hunt for leaked pictures or videos from the event. Who wore what, who attended, what was the menu – the entitlement with which we want to know all this (and more) is equal in measure to that of nosy neighbours. This secrecy permits celebrities to take part in their special moment, enjoy some uninterrupted time with their families, and above all, feel REAL, not REEL, on the wedding day. In my opinion it has less to do with the brands they are associated with, and more to do with avoiding the camera and being themselves,” she says.

Actors Rahul Vaidya and Disha Parmar made no bones about dealing with the media buzz during their wedding. “We didn’t keep it a secret. A week before our wedding, Disha and I put it out on social media that we are getting married. And because our wedding was happening in the heart of Mumbai, at the Grand Hyatt, nothing could have been kept a secret. And I was getting married in peak COVID time, so there were restrictions also. I flew into the country just 15 days prior to the wedding because I was shooting for Khatron Ke Khiladi in Cape Town. We didn’t allow any photographer inside the venue, but the guests, our friends were posting inside videos on their social media,” Rahul says.

“To each his own,” adds Dalljiet. “If someone wants to reveal after getting married, it’s fine. If someone wants to involve the media at every function and get papped, it’s fine. Every individual has their own journey and their own perspective. There is no right or wrong.”

Yusuf Ibrahim takes it on himself to ensure tight security arrangements at such high profile events. “Whenever there is a celebrity wedding, NDAs are signed, and then we are bound to keep details confidential,” he says. “At least a 1000 people are employed for a celebrity wedding and there is a high possibility of information getting leaked. There are layers of security in and out, the staff has no mobile policy. I prefer about 50 security personnel per shift.”

Wedding planner Bhavnesh Sawhney of FB Celebrations, however, thinks celebrities should be more open about their weddings. “When we worked on Sonam Kapoor’s wedding, the family took a very brave step of allowing the cameras inside, everything was out in the open. It was all fine, nobody had anything to hide. It allowed more of a celebration that was less hidden and there wasn’t much to worry about,” he shares.

Rumours – kill ‘em with kindness

Stars may be yearning for privacy at their private events, but all the hide-n-seek only adds to more rumours and speculations leading to fake news on the internet. Take Sid-Kiara for instance. The number of dates, venues, menus and guest lists speculated for their wedding over the past few months has been crazy. Remember the expensive gifts Athiya and Rahul were reported to have received at their wedding? It was only when the family issued a statement to dismiss the reports that the truth came out. Among the various speculations around Vicky-Katrina’s wedding, the one about pap drones being shot down at the wedding venue was hands down the most amusing. Even more amusing were the memes that flooded the social media.

The best way to avoid such fake stories could be to address the media and keep the fans in the know. Says Bhavnesh Sawhney, “The stars should definitely address the media. Yes, their lives are very different because the media and fans want to know what’s happening, at the same time it’s important to just address the media so that it does not lead to speculations and other unwanted info going out. Sharing a little info with fans and media is good. There is no harm in it. In fact it’s better as it leads to less speculations, less controversies, less drama, less issues.”

Rahul Vaidya agrees, “There is no harm in doing one meet and greet with the media. This way you can seek the love and blessings of everybody. The media is also bothering so much because people love you. People want to see more of your marriage. And rather than having baseless rumours put here and there, it’s better to do just one formal interaction after the pheras. Having said that, it’s again a personal choice.”

Photographer Niklesh Malkani believes so much secrecy can sometimes backfire. “Because celebs want publicity, they release everything immediately after the wedding gets over. Things are hush hush only till the wedding. Some people prefer to flash everything right from the invite to everything. They want to get into the limelight from the start. There are pros and cons in both ways,” he says.

Mudrika observes celebs try so hard to keep it a secret that sometimes the right people that they want actually to cover it don’t cover it. “Sometimes they hide it so much that people lose interest as well. Then it doesn’t get as much hype and as much love that they deserve. It fades away very quickly,” she says.

“There are no secrets when you are in the public domain,” says Naomi. “Inevitably, the details are out. But I still feel it is up to the celebrity how they want to handle it.”

Money matters

The new trend that is catching up among the stars is optimising the wedding with brand collaborations. A majority of the expenses of celebrity weddings are known to be taken care of by the various brands that associate with the mega event in the interest of getting publicity. Publications and OTT platforms are the latest to join the celebrity wedding bandwagon by purchasing the rights to pictures and videos. Nayanthara: Beyond the Fairytale and Hansika’s Love Shaadi Drama are two of the popular Indian celebrity wedding documentaries to have hit the OTT scene recently.

This could explain the increasing need for secrecy as the brands would need exclusivity to make it a profitable collaboration. “It is a common trend for celebrities to sell their wedding footage and images to magazines and sometimes, channels as their fans await to see all the developments happening in the big event of their idols. While the celebrities enjoy their most iconic celebration of their life, they also would like their fans to witness all that happened in the wedding and keep them happy. Hence the trend of selling rights to the OTT platform or a magazine works the best,” says Neha Seth Arora.

“A lot of artists crack deals with popular OTTs in which the rights to their wedding videos are sold. I feel that can be a reason for the secrecy,” says Vipul Roy. “But ultimately it is a personal call whether they want to involve the media or not, whether they want to show the world how they got married or not. That should be a personal choice because getting married is a very, very personal thing.”

“Selling the content to magazines and OTT is a choice not available to many, so for the cream of the crop which is the privileged lot – I say why not?,” says Mudrika. “The content will be flooded in the media regardless, so if one is able to monetise on it, why not?”

Akshay Bardapurkar, founder of OTT platform Planet Marathi, had acquired the rights of actress Sonalee Kulkarni’s wedding documentary titled Sonalee, Kunal: A Wedding Story. “It is definitely a growing trend,” he says. “We have got offers from various illustrious people who want their wedding to be showcased on our channel.”



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