For you, me and the rest of us, Diwali is all about celebration. But for the Hindi film industry, perennially obsessed with standing out from the rest, it’s also about competition.
Whose Diwali bash drew the most A-listers? Which star or star wife got the biggest new baubles? Who spent the most money? Who has a gambling problem? The buzz is all about who’s better and who’s best. With big money involved, it’s serious business in the star bungalows of Bandra and Juhu. They call it a Diwali party, but it is often one long session of high jinks — in the festive spirit, of course.
The winners on most counts are the Kapoors — actor Jeetendra, his wife Shobha and daughter Ekta. The actor is known to love a game of poker, but during Diwali their two-storey Juhu mansion Krishna gets transformed into a palace worthy of Las Vegas, complete with all the trimmings. Shobha’s collection of bling is blinding; she’s even known to wear a bindi (ornamental dot on the forehead) with a real diamond. For Ekta, the festival is a show of strength every year with a lavish party thrown for the sophisticated crowd from film and television. Tusshar Kapoor maintains a comparatively low profile, but we hear he is a good host too.
The other big khiladi (player) at Diwali is Akshay Kumar. He and wife Twinkle are great hosts; their seaside Juhu bungalow is beautiful and the parties extravagant and fun.
Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar also have a well-attended party every year, where wit and laughter accompany other fun activities. Akhtar’s son Farhan, who was a regular at his father’s bash, has of late started hosting one of his own parties along with his business partner Ritesh Sidhwani.
However, their celebration faces tough competition from a biggie down the road at Bandra Bandstand. Shah Rukh Khan’s heritage mansion Mannat stays alive with lights and laughter until the morning after. No prizes for guessing his guest list; only a certain Priyanka Chopra may not be invited this year. Khan’s pal Karan Johar is definitely a busy man during Diwali; he likes to show up at good friend Ekta Kapoor’s party (his mother Hiroo is a regular there too) and then move on to Mannat.
Another regular at Mannat is Hrithik Roshan. He would like to celebrate Diwali quietly with his wife Susanne and children, but makes it a point to turn up at Khan’s party as Susanne and Gauri Khan are close friends and business partners.
Salman Khan celebrates Eid in grand style, but prefers to be at his Panvel farmhouse over Diwali. However, his brother Arbaaz, sister-in-law Malaika and the family celebrate the festival with much fanfare in their Galaxy Apartments.
The other big Khan, Aamir, likes to keep it quiet, but manages to register a good attendance for his Diwali party as well. And we hear that the rules at Khan’s party are rather democratic.
Shilpa Shetty and her millionaire husband Raj Kundra are the latest entrants on the Diwali party scene. This year will be special for them, with the birth of their son Viaan. Jalsa, the Bachchans’ home, has a new resident too. Abhishek and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s daughter Aaradhya will be celebrating her first Diwali. The Bachchans used to have a quiet celebration at home, but last year they threw a bash that saw a pregnant Aishwarya greeting guests. This year might be a quiet one, given the recent mega bash Jaya hosted for Amitabh’s 70th birthday.
For Bollywood’s young heroines, dressing up is a big matter during the festivities. From Kareena Kapoor to Rani Mukherji, Preity Zinta and Priyanka Chopra, the actresses bring out their newest and expensive jewels and traditional designer threads for Diwali. There’s no better occasion to show off their latest acquisitions.
Rani, in particular, is quite fond of jewellery and often flaunts her best pieces during Durga Puja and Diwali. With the (rumoured) man in her life, Aditya Chopra, not the partying kind, Rani has to make appearances at parties alone. She’s also happy celebrating the festival at home, bursting crackers with her niece Myesha, nicknamed Mishti (Bengali for sweet).
The big battle
In proper Diwali tradition, sweets, designer chocolates and hampers are also distributed in B-town. Journalists, too, get their share of goodies, especially from producers and film-makers who have films lined up for release around this time.
The real fireworks, however, will burst at the box office this year with the stage set for one of Indian film industry’s biggest battles. Yash Raj Films, Shah Rukh Khan and Ajay Devgn will be keeping a close watch on box office collections for their films, Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Son of Sardar.
And this is no ordinary competition. Not only are the three bigwigs working hard to put their films on the top but the arch rivalry between Devgn and Shah Rukh is known to all. That Devgn’s wife Kajol is one of Shah Rukh’s closest buddies only makes it more exciting.
Flashback to 21 years ago. Lamhe, powered by the late Yash Chopra, and starring Anil Kapoor and Sridevi released along with Devgn’s debut movie Phool Aur Kante. All the odds were against Phool Aur Kante, but it turned out to be a huge hit. On the other hand, Lamhe, despite being considered one of Chopra’s most interesting films, turned out to be his biggest flop.
On November 13, Bollywood would see a happy Diwali ending if both films succeed. Devgn and Shah Rukh can then truly celebrate. But if one or both throw a Diwali bash, you know who won’t be invited! ■