Exotic, colorful, romantic Rajasthan! Ablaze with history and heritage, magic and magnificence, spectacular tales of valor and heroism, matched by awesome forts…. Little wonder that red-hot, super-rich and famous glitterati — showbiz stars, tycoon hoteliers, et al — are seduced and bedazzled by its mesmerizing ambience and feel royal, regal and very, very special.
Be it Liz Hurley and her Indian beau, Arun Nayar, Madonna and her ‘Guy’ Ritchie, Priya and Vikram Chatwal and the latest, Kate Perry and Russel Brand, they’ve all fallen hook, line and sinker for Rajasthan’s charms and decided to use it as the perfect setting to get hitched. As a result, Rajasthan has attracted huge publicity from the tabloid press in particular, further hyped with celebs of all shapes and sizes zooming in, from across the globe as special guests of the besotted and about-to-tie-the-knot couple’s pre or post wedding parties. Lavish, extravagant and colorful, these razzle-dazzle 10-star events, often livened with local color through music, dance, elephants and camels, unfailingly blitzed the media and a glorious time was had by all.
Alas, not for long. It so turns out that these glitzy Rajasthan-based weddings have usually bitten dust (sand?) in a very short period. Take the case of New York based Hotelier Vikram Chatwal and bride Priya Sachdev, a sexy model. Their 2006 wedding had all the trappings of a big budget Bollywood movie. Chartered jets, glam celebs, spectacular parties, with special reference to the masqueraded theme Fantasia. Reports have it that Priya was diffident about her self-described playboy beau. Priya’s instincts scored. The couple have split. The gorgeous Sachdev is back in India while Vikram is once again rocking it big, according to New York’s tabaloid media, with glam babes in the Big Apple.
The hi-pitched drama of Elizabeth Hurley and Arun Nayar also panned out in style in Rajasthan. As if their wedding in Winchcombe, England, was not enough, they held a full-on Hindu ceremony at the Umaid Bhawan Palace in 2007. Liz’s pink colored lehenga became a sensation overnight and was copied across markets in India. In 2011, this fabulous dream soured. She filed for divorce and very soon, was caught in a “spin” with Australian Spin King Shane Warne. Ironically, they reportedly hotted up their romance, of all places, in Rajasthan, where Warne was captaining the Rajasthan Royals team in the Indian Premier League. The local cynic insists that should they ever decide to hook-up, they better avoid Rajasthan like the plague, or Warne could be clean bowled for a six, in a disturbingly short time.
The Madonna-Ritchie affair too featured hot and heavy on the radar. The rock-star stormed in to, ostensibly, celebrate the successful adoption of Malawian baby Banda and usher in 2008. The couple really whooped it up, taking in the local stuff, absorbing, participating and bonding through dancing with the locals, riding horses, the works. It was perfect. Cut to end 2008 and it was … c-u-t! The seven-year itch seemed to have grabbed them and romantic Rajasthan was nothing more than a regal memory. Sad, na?
The latest casualty is the odd coupling of Kate Perry and Russel Brand. The hot American actress and her funny looking whacko British boyfriend were zonked by the magic and mystique of Rajasthan. Their giant leap toward the orange blossoms (at a luxury resort outside the Ranthambore Tiger Resort, no less!) included a full scale Hindu wedding conducted by a proper Panditji. The bride, rising to the occasion and obviously totally in-the-moment, even wore a nath and mehendi. A little over a year later, blazing reports indicate that the nath-mehendi show has gone the way of their starry, celeb predecessors….
So, what’s with this place that causes celeb couples to embrace fatal attraction? Is it really a royal jinx for the glitterati, hypnotized by the color and romance of this amazing state, only to be doomed in their relationship?
Vikas Agnihotri, an Udaipur-based anthropologist believes that sometimes, some places don’t work for some people. “I wish I could give an exact reason or put my finger on it, but … it happens. It’s the not-made-for-each-other setting, startlingly seductive enough to entice them at first look, excite them early on, but once they leave, the mischief is done. Their doom is decreed.”
Kolkata-based social commentator Rashmi Ghosh has a different take: “For Chrissake, gimme a break! These are frivolous, superficial, cardboard cut-out celebs, stinkingly rich, supremely hedonistic and self-indulgent, perpetually living on the wings of their whims and fancies, a continent away from both the real world and real flesh and blood emotions, feelings, passion and sentiments. For these creatures, life is a playground, an amphitheatre, a stadium to play out their version of life, divorced from lesser mortals like you and me. Easy come, easy go. All the world is a stage and relationships like love and marriage are at best — in keeping with the consumerist and promiscuous time we live in — consumer perishables!”