A Rs 55 crore wedding extravaganza, capable of surpassing even the most spectacular Bollywood sets, will unveil at the Asramam ground in Kollam on Thursday where NRI business magnate Ravi Pillai’s daughter, Dr Arathi, will wed Dr Adithya Vishnu of Kochi.
With a net worth of $2.8 billion, Ravi Pillai was ranked first among the richest Keralites in a survey conducted by TOI in June. Pillai’s RP Group has a strong presence in Gulf in construction, infrastructure development, mining and education, and has over 80,000 employees across 26 companies.
Though wrapped in secrecy, sources associated with the wedding plans told ToI that the festivities, planned by the production designer of the multi-lingual top-grosser ‘Bahubali’, will showcase dance performances by Malayalam film actresses Manju Warrier and Sobhana, with a musical show conducted by Stephen Devassy before 30,000 guests inside a 350,000 sq ft pandal modelled along Rajasthan royal palaces.
The splurge on the wedding will also include Rs 10-crore worth charity initiatives planned in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts in connection with the wedding.
A virtual who’s who of the Gulf and several European countries are expected. The guest list starts with 42 global leaders including country heads, CEOs, government reps, politicians, film-stars, technocrats and diplomats.
T P Seetharaman, ambassador of India to the UAE; Sheikh Khalifa Bin Daij Al Khalifa, president, Crown Prince Office, Bahrain; Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalid H A Al Thani, Royal Family of Qatar; Dr Essam Abdullah, Saudi Royal Family; and, Lebanese ambassador Michel El Khoury have confirmed attendance.
Sources at Thiruvananthapuram airport said two chartered flights are expected on Thursday. “But we can accommodate more as we only need a three-hour alert to prepare for landing and handling of special flights,” sources said.
The wedding set, spread over eight acres, has cost more than Rs 20 crore. The pandal was made by a team of 200 professionals led by film art director Sabu Cyril.
“The design is unique for this event. But it’s largely modelled on the royal palaces of Rajasthan,” said Cyril, who was the production designer for ‘Bahubali’.
He said that the wedding set is larger than the one he had made for ‘Bahubali’. “The palace in the film was set up on five acres but this set will cover 40,000 sqft spread over eight acres,” Cyril told TOI.
While Cyril had to work for two-and-half years for building the ‘Bahubali’ set, it took him close to 75 days to create the Rajasthani ambience in Kollam.
“Various parts for this set were first moulded in clay in Mumbai, and then it was cast in plaster of Paris. It took us about 40 days to assemble the pre-fabricated structures here,” he said. “And it will take us a fortnight to dismantle it and clear the ground back to its original form,” Cyril said.
Chartered flights carrying Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Bahrain royal family landed on Wednesday. An elaborate security blanket has been thrown over Kollam. Apart from 250 cops, the services of 350 private security personnel have been hired.