India Celebrates Rai-Bachchan Wedding

Abhishek Bachchan on a horse in his wedding attire to attend his traditional Hindu wedding.
AP Photo/Gautam Singh
Film-crazy India held its breath Friday as two of its biggest stars, the emerald-eyed former Miss World Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan, a romantic hero and son of an Indian cinema legend, celebrated their wedding.

The affair, hyped by Indian media as "the wedding of the century," was filled with the melodrama so beloved in Bollywood, India's flamboyant Hindi film industry: secrecy, dance routines and even a suicidal fan who claimed to be the groom's jilted lover.

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Hundreds of fans cheered as Bachchan, wearing a gold-and-cream turban — his face covered with a traditional veil of white flowers — emerged onto the streets outside his home astride a white stallion, giving his admirers a thumbs-up sign while his friends danced around him.

Bachchan bobbed his head and punched the air with his hands in time to a Bollywood tune played by an accompanying band of red-turbaned musicians.

He then made his way to a huge, flower-filled, air-conditioned tent encircled by gold curtains in the garden adjoining the Bachchan family home — where — to the sound of trumpets, drums and clanging cymbals — he and Rai reportedly exchanged garlands and wedding vows.

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Rai remained hidden inside the barricaded venue, but the Indian media was split down the middle with reports that she either wore a red-and-gold, intricately embroidered sari, or a gold-and-cream creation.

Bachchan, 31, and Rai, 33, were engaged in a private ceremony in January. They have appeared together in several films.

Rai, who first captured India's attention when she was crowned Miss World in 1994, has become one of its biggest stars and one of India's most recognized faces overseas. She has acted in more than 30 movies and starred in several commercials for cosmetic and cola companies.

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Bachchan comes from a famous Bollywood movie family — his father, Amitabh, is a Bollywood legend and his mother, Jaya, is also a famous actor.

Hundreds of fans lined the roads, climbed trees or scaled buildings, hoping to catch a glimpse of the wedding party.

However, the festivities were marred when a young woman slit her wrists outside the Bachchan home in Mumbai early Friday.

Identifying herself as Jhanvi Kapoor, she said Bachchan had promised to marry her after they met when she was one of the dancers in a promotional music video for a movie "Dus" ("Ten"), in which Bachchan starred two years ago.

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"He is not talking to me," she told reporters. "I want to know why he doesn't talk to me."

She was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, then arrested by police for attempting to commit suicide — a crime in India. She was later released on bail of $238.

"This is a stunt," said police officer A. Mohite. "She seemed to have done this purely to catch the attention of the media."

By Talwar Badam