And what a swell party it was! A celebrity guestlist like no other; a Rihanna concert; a David Blaine magic show; hundreds of singers and dancers, Bollywood A-listers mucking about on stage and one Town Crier with a huge grin on his face wondering how he ever got to be so lucky as to be here in the first place.

I landed at Mumbai International and then took a short internal flight to Rajkot in Gujarat. The 36 degrees of heat were a welcome change from the chilly 4 degrees back in the Royal Borough.

The hotel was lovely but a long, long drive from the wedding venue which was near Jamnagar. This suited me fine as I got to see quite a bit of the Gujarati countryside from an air-conditioned seat.

Mela Rouge

This was a wedding party for Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant who would be getting married later in the summer. However, this was not any old wedding party. The world’s press were saying this was the biggest, most lavish wedding in history.

When we arrived I got an inkling of just how big this event would be from the security hoops we had to jump through to pick up our entry passes. When we got in to the ‘venue’ I was gobsmacked! It was the size of two football stadiums joined by a huge tunnel of flowers. All the walls were decorated in a mash up of ancient Indian and ‘Moulin Rouge’ styles. Every inch was decorated. There wasn’t a foot of space that wasn’t pattered, inlaid or draped with fabrics, festooned with flowers or hung with chandeliers. Most of it had all five. It was magnificent.

Baz Luhrmans Moulin Rouge film was a key inspiration for the design (which itself borrowed heavily from traditional Indian designs) and a 40ft high Elephant had been built mirroring the movie with a love nest inside and a balcony overlooking a large party area. 

love elephant

It was a perfect location for a proclamation or two and the event director seemed happy with the idea of me working from there. He said that he was a ‘big fan’ having seen all my YouTube videos!

As the evening drew in a lovely cooling breeze took it down to a mid-warm summers day temperature so my wool and silk livery was not going to cause an overheating problem tonight. 

Guests began to filter in, each batch of arrivals just staring open-mouthed at what they saw. 

At one end, The ‘sangeet’ stage was huge; wider and deeper than any in the west end (or the 02 or Wembley). A gently stepped audience area was covered by several hundred identical deep plush sofas.

Behind this (where the centre spot of a footie pitch would be) was an enormous circular bar, styled like an oversized carousel with mirrored silver galloping ponies. Running down one side of the stadium was a open air restaurant for the 1200 A-list guests. 

At the other end from the stage was an entrance way; above it the carved head of a horse about 20 foot high.  Beneath was a tunnel of flowers leading to… a second stadium sized arena. 

All around this area were bars, performers, and fairground rides such as swings and teacups and a madly spinning ferris wheel. 

I went up to the top of the elephant, the music faded out and my mic went live. The sound didn’t just echo, it boomed through both stadiums at a great volume as I declared the opening of ‘Mela Rouge’. I got cheers in response. The sound guy timed it perfectly, dropping in a deep bass beat as my last word ended. Brilliant start.

After announcing the David Blaine show and later a couple more bits I helped herd the audience over to the main show area and got them seated for the ‘Sangeet’. This is a lovely traditional part of a pre-wedding event in many parts of India.

The Sangeet

The families of both the bride and groom put on a performance of song and dance and make speeches that traditionally include some ever so gentle roasting, similar in theme to a best man’s speech here in Britain.

I went to the front of the stage and under a couple of follow spots did a ‘welcome to the main event’ proclamation and a countdown played on the huge screen behind me. 

Part of a Sangeet involves relatives and friends of the bride and groom choreographing dance numbers. The happy couple are very well known in India with an enviable list of celebrity friends. It was pretty amazing to see the great Shah Rukh Khan and various other Bollywood legends in the wings waiting for their turn on stage. My sister is a big fan of SRK (If you don’t know him, think India’s version of George Clooney) and I knew she would be ‘well jealous’ of me being there.

I hung around to watch the show which was as lavish, ornate and utterly beautiful as the rest of the evening. I checked the time and realised that many many hours had passed since we picked up our security passes. It was probably time for bed, but the party would be in full swing for many hours yet to come.

I wish all the best to Anant and Radhika for their wedding coming up in July and thanks so much for letting me play a part in a truly unforgettable evening. I only wish I had a photo of me up on that elephant balcony!