OMG. Incredible. Astounding. Mindblowing. Stunning. Mesmerizing. And, you can go on and on with adjectives that laced the unfolding of the wedding of the century. The Ambanis are mega rich. The Ambanis are mega connected. The Ambanis are mega businessmen. The splash, the splurge, the spend is the hot topic that is still making rounds in every communication nook and corner of the world. Jawdropping estimates of the wedding are still being discussed. Some are awestruck at the infinite lavishness. Some are horrified at the naked display of wealth. Some are feeling envious of those who made it. Some are feeling repulsed by those who contributed in the pure and unadulterated plastering of money, brands and stars. Good of bad it is the most talked about event of the year so far.

Life styles of the rich and famous have fascinated people from time immemorial. The Buckingham Palace controversies and the White House conspiracies are the works of many a Netflix thriller. Lady Diana’s life and death are still topics of research and documentaries. The Ambanis are equivalent to the Asian business royalty. They live in a house that costs a mere 2 billion dollars. Their weddings are suitably grandiose.

Their daughter Isha Ambani’s wedding was also luxurious with Beyonce performing on it. Thus the marriage of the youngest sibling had to beat the earlier one. And it did. The three day pre-marriage celebrations were spectacular in every way. The place, the guests, the food, the entertainment was oozing with opulence and extravagance.

The most debated point was the bill of this show piece. It was speculated, debated and discussed till the final figure of Indian rupees 1200 crores was arrived at. Many are aghast at this amount and call it the rich man’s senseless indulgence. But for shrewd businessmen like the Ambanis there is some sense in the senselessness. Let us look at some larger than the cost benefits of this big fat Ambani wedding:

  1. Networking of the century— Networking works. The event was a mega superstar spectacular. From actors, to singers, to sports icons, to business elite, to political big guns, they all queued up waiting for their checkins and entry to this exotic meet up of who is who. Among the nearly 1,200 attendees were numerous globally recognized business leaders, such as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, Morgan Stanley CEO Ted Pick, Disney CEO Bob Iger, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, and Ivanka Trump, the daughter of former US President Donald Trump, along with her husband Jared Kushner.Considering that Trump is likely to come back as the President this November, it is an obvious inclusion.

The Guest list itself is a winner. Imagine being able to access such global influencers. The snowball effect of stars showing up, mingling, talking, connecting is worth more than a hundred conferences and summits. To have three days of access to such a pool of tech gurus, media blitzers, king makers is a stage for mega deals to come. The returns on this investment, whether in terms of social capital, political leverage, or future business opportunities, are anticipated to far outweigh the initial outlay.

  1. Business government coziness— Such events, where the world lands, needs government support. Astute businessmen like the Ambanis are expert at business-government relations. Mukesh Ambani has been a Modi supporter, praising him openly. The choice of Jamnagar Gujarat as the venue was due to Modi’s desire to promote his home constituency. Jamnagar has become more recognized in the world than it ever could have.

That opens up more power corridors for the Ambanis. Jamnagar does not have an international airport. Reportedly the airport was shut for 10 days to convert it into one. Just imagine the amount of ministries and permissions involved. Only the very top support of the government would have made this possible. A small example of how many other political doors will now be opened for the Ambanis.

  1. The image whiteners— The rich are image conscious. They know people will be fascinated yet critical. The Ambanis are appealing to a global audience. The controversial part of throwing away billions on something that is not even the actual wedding needs some softeners. Jamnagar was not painted just as a Las Vegas party scene but an animal refuge too. On the second day, guests were taken to the Reliance animal rescue center for “a walk on the wild side,” the bride groom’s pet project.

The last day included a “tusker trails” event where guests could spend the afternoon “surrounded by the wonders of nature” including over 200 elephants, 300 big cats, and 120 reptiles previously at risk of being sold or poached. Religion added the holy touch. 13 temples were built before the event in Jamnagar for worshippers. The poor were not forgotten. A 51,000-community dinner was also hosted to give the much-needed message of social and religious responsibility.

  1. Limitless marketing reach— This event was more seen, talked about, written about; more than any other event. Keep the official social media coverage aside. Just see the number of tags and tweets by all and sundry. Each activity of each evening would be seen by billions, retweeted by thousands and then commented by Vloggers over and over again. The owner of Facebook/Meta was posting on it, the superstars were reeling on it.

The businessmen were posting endlessly. For three days big and small, formal and informal, all channels were flooded with the Ambani news. There was the much awaited Rihaana after 8 years for the west to see and share. There were the three Khans—Amir, Shahrukh and Salman— for the 2 billion people of South Asia to get glued and give million reshares.

There was the 5000 drone show to highlight the Vantara animal rescue center to attract technology geeks and global wildlife conservationists. There was food and food and food for the global foodies to rerun the videos a million times. There was the Bollywood romance of the engaged couple. There was action of the most spectacular kind packaged with fantasy amplified.

This hi-octane fast and furious fun was at a huge cost and was widely criticized as a wastage of money on an event which was just a trailer for the wedding in July. Was this just another reckless, throwaway of money by the over moneyed? Was the wedding event a culmination of all the wedding dreams of Anant Ambani? No, the big fat wedding was big business.

It is going to bring in much bigger and fatter business. That is the reality. Consider this-An 8.5 billion dollars merger between Reliance Industries and Disney that will merge their Indian TV and streaming media assets has already been announced. Many others are rumoured to be in the making. So was this another rich people’s fancy GT? Not really. As they say, it is the money, stupid.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

Andleeb Abbas

The writer is a columnist, consultant, coach, and an analyst and can be reached at [email protected]

Comments

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Tariq Qurashi Mar 20, 2024 11:18am
What a cheap tasteless show of wealth.
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touchandgo Mar 20, 2024 01:01pm
@Tariq Qurashi, when the Arabs show it is not cheap attitude ?
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Spaceman Mar 20, 2024 10:22pm
@touchandgo - "when the Arabs show it is not cheap attitude ?" No, it's ok. Because they are Muslims. And we are منافق
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Tariq Qurashi Mar 21, 2024 04:42pm
@touchandgo, I agree, it is the same.
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