If there’s one family in the country that hasn’t been crippled by a cash crunch following the demonetisation announcement, then it has to be the Gali Janardhana Reddy family.
The mining baron and former Karnataka minister, who is an accused in several money laundering and illegal mining cases, has spared no expense, effort or imagination to host the biggest, fattest wedding that Bengaluru has ever witnessed for his daughter, Brahmini.
So, while thousands of Bengalureans are waiting in line across banks in the city, hundreds unable to afford a meal, Janardhana Reddy is reportedly spending a whopping 500 crore rupees on his daughter’s wedding.
The four-day ostentatious affair, which began on November 12 with a mehendi ceremony will culminate in an outrageously extravagant wedding on November 16.
What does 500 crore rupees buy, you ask?
For starters, Janardhana Reddy, who reportedly believes he’s the reincarnation of the 14th century Vijayanagara King Krishnadevaraya, has recreated the Vijayanagara empire on 36 acres of land at Palace Grounds in Bengaluru.
The groom Rajeev Reddy, the son of a Hyderabad based industrialist, will tie the knot with Brahmini in a kalyana mantapa (wedding pavilion) that will resemble the Vijaya Vittala Temple in Hampi, reports BTV. Eight priests from the Tirupati Thirumala temple will perform the rituals, reports India Today.
That’s not all.
No faux-royal wedding is complete without a palace. Janardhana Reddy’s money will be spent on building King Krishnadevaraya’s palace, Lotus Mahal and Mahanavami Dibba all painstakingly reconstructed by some of Bollywood’s biggest art directors and around 100 labourers, reports Deccan Chronicle.
The word “simple” it seems is missing from Janardhana Reddy’s lexicon. The former BJP minister will reconstruct his childhood home “Hale Mane” in Belgaavi and it is here that he will hand over his daughter to the groom, reports DC.
The other frills at the big fat Reddy wedding include elephants, camels and chariots. The dining hall will resemble a traditional village set-up in Bellari, reports India Today.
The wedding of the year will also, if rumours are to be believed, see the King Khan of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan and Prabhu Deva perform.
Other celebrity names doing the rounds are Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhavan while Tollywood’s Rakul Preet Singh, Priya Mani, comedians Brahmanandam, and Ali are among the A-list performers, reports Manorama.
The newspaper estimates that 30,000 guests will participate in the wedding festivities, with 1500 rooms in star hotels booked to accommodate them, while 2000 cabs will ferry them to the venue and back. 15 helipads have also been set up to fly-in VIP guests.
Keeping with palatial theme, BT reports that attendants will be dressed as soldiers to usher the guests into the wedding.
The bride’s wedding trousseau will comprise a Rs 17-crore saree, which she will wear on her wedding day, reports BT. The multi-crore saree will be accessorised with jewellery worth 90 crore rupees, gifted by the bride’s father for the special day.
But how exactly is Janardhana Reddy footing the bill for the extravagant wedding?
Having been arrested by the CBI on the charges of illegal mining in 2011, Janardhana Reddy was granted bail by the Supreme Court in January 2015 on the condition that he does not visit his hometown of Ballari and Kadapa, where his mining company is situated.
The apex court, however, relaxed its restrictions for 21 days from November 1 to November 21, allowing him to visit Ballari in view of his daughter’s wedding.
In 2014, a special anti-money laundering court attached assets worth Rs 37.86 crore belonging to Janardhana Reddy and his wife in connection with the mining scam. The ED had also frozen his bank accounts, besides attaching properties in Bengaluru and Ballari.
Quoting anti-corruption activists, Hindustan Times reported in January 2015 that that the BJP leader has parked between Rs 40,000 crore to Rs 50,000 crore in tax havens such as Singapore, Mauritius and Isle of Man.
But the CBI’s conservative figure pegged the mining baron’s off-shore money at Rs 5000 crore, with the report suggesting that the investigating agency was finding it difficult to recover the money, as officials at the tax havens were refusing to share information on Janardhana Reddy’s wealth.
But not everyone is on-board with the over-the-top spectacle, especially when lakhs across the country are scrounging for cash.
State health minister KR Ramesh Kumar, who had introduced the private members bill to stop the excessive display of wealth at weddings, had stated that no individual with self-respect would attend the wedding.
Publicly deriding Janardhana Reddy for his daughter’s opulent wedding card, fitted with an LCD screen, Kumar said, “It is a sheer obscene display of wealth. I will not attend this marriage. I will not attend such marriages if any of my relatives or friends indulge in displaying the wealth.”
A few ministers, and former Prime Minister HD Deva Gowda may, however, attend the lavish ceremony and bless the newly-weds.