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Aishwarya, Shah Rukh expected at Mittal wedding

By Prasun Sonwalkar, IANS

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Aishwarya Rai Bollywood stars Aishwarya Rai and Shah Rukh Khan are expected to attend the wedding of the daughter of billionaire British steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.

If he comes, it will be the second time Khan would be attending a Mittal wedding. In 1998, the Bollywood superstar was reportedly paid 300,000 pounds to perform at the wedding of Mittal's son, Aditya, in Kolkata.

The six-day wedding celebrations beginning June 5 would be spread over six days in London and Paris with over 100 guests.

Vanisha, the 23-year-old daughter of the tycoon, the fifth richest man in Britain, is marrying Amit Bhatia, 25, a London-based financer on June 22 in Paris.

Mittal, estimated to be worth 3.5 billion pounds, last month paid 70 million pounds for a 12-bedroom mansion in Kensington Palace Gardens, west London - a world record for a house.

Apart from Bollywood superstars, the pick of Indian high society are expected to attend the wedding, which will include traditional Indian ceremonies, lavish parties and a banquet at the Palace of Versailles.

Mittal's daughter, who works for her father, is believed to have met her future husband while he was working at Credit Suisse in London.

Mittal, 53, who has made his fortune in the steel industry, is believed to have hired out the hotels exclusively for much of the wedding. The bill for accommodation alone is likely to run in excess of 1 million pounds.

Shah Rukh Khan"It's going to be the civil wedding of the decade," said a friend of the Mittals. "Lakshmi is very proud of his daughter, Vanisha, and I'm sure there will be no expense spared."

Vanisha recently took up a post at her father's company, LNM, the world's second-largest steel producer, after completing a Master's degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

Bhatia's grandfather, Pasha Saigal, a well-known London socialite, recently said: "My grandson was captain of cricket at school. He plays squash and golf and is very athletic. He's quite a catch."

Vanisha has remained coy about the wedding, only saying: "I'm excited."

The celebrations in Paris start June 18 with a dinner for family and close friends. Although much of the cuisine is likely to be French throughout the six days, Mittal may be flying in Munna Maharaj, a Kolkata-based celebrity chef, to cater for his vegetarian guests.

A 'sangeet' or traditional music ceremony takes place on the following evening, which will include a play specially written by Javed Akhtar, one of India's leading scriptwriters and lyricists.

A professional choreographer is being flown to Paris to supervise a dance routine to be performed by Bhatia's close friends and relatives.

The celebrations in Paris will be grand and security will be stringent. Staff at the Intercontinental hotels where guests will be staying said that all their rooms had been taken for June 19-22, but claimed that the bookings were for "a big conference".

The location of the actual wedding ceremony is also a closely guarded secret.

However, India's leading couturiers, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, are believed to have designed the wedding outfits, including a traditional suit for the groom studded with Swarovski crystals.

The duo has previously designed outfits for Princess Michael of Kent and Michael Jackson.

For guests, the highlight of the six days will be a "royal dinner" at the Palace of Versailles, the former residence of Louis XIV, France's Sun King.

The dinner, which will be preceded by cocktails in the palace grounds, is likely to be in the orangery, which has the capacity to seat 1,200 guests.

Bookings cost a minimum of 40,000 pounds before tax and have to be made a year in advance. Entertainment, such as musicians and fireworks, costs extra.

"On June 20, there is a reception for an Indian person who is getting married," said a member of the palace staff.

After the wedding, the married couple are rumoured to be moving into an apartment in Knightsbridge.

Apart from his latest acquisition in Kensington Palace Gardens, Mittal has a 9-million-pound home in Hampstead, north London, and a luxury flat in Mayfair close to his office.


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