Mama Nita is the Real Star of Her Daughter Isha Ambani’s Wedding Celebrations

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Mama Nita is the Real Star of Her Daughter Isha Ambani’s Wedding Celebrations

Illustration: Arati Gujar

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ast week, the most pushy mom on the internet was Kris Jenner, world-renowned Kardashian momager and breakout star of Ariana Grande’s music video for hit song/instant meme, “Thank u, next”. The video recreated famous movie scenes, including the Christmas concert from Mean Girls, and Jenner was all too believable as the over-enthu mom in the audience, who mimes the steps along with the girls onstage, clutching a camcorder so as not to miss a moment.

Well, if the last few days of Isha Ambani’s absolutely bonkers Udaipur sangeet are anything to go by, there is no brand of extra that is not done better in India. Step aside, Kris, because apna Nita Ambani has shimmied her way to the front of the celeb mom line, just like she edged to the foreground of the Ambani-Piramal engagement photos.

You might think that Nita Ambani is essentially Kris Jenner, rolled in ₹4000 crore worth of diamond dust and Manish Malhotra couture. But you’d be wrong.

Because where Western moms will try and channel their own thirst for attention through their children – who can forget a slightly too supportive Kris at Kim’s nude Playboy shoot, reassuring her that she is doing amazing, sweetie? – any desi auntie worth her salt knows how to turn the spotlight on herself, to hell with the kids. At a funeral, she will wail the loudest, asking bhagwan why he took her neighbour’s daadi ma so soon. At a kitty, she arrives fashionably late, and declares that her beta’s poor grades have put her off her feed. And at Isha Ambani’s wedding, you see the iron hand of Nita in everything from the Olympic swimming pool-sized sangeet stage, to the showers of shaadi lights that now adorn the infamous Ambani residence, Antilia.

Just look how Nita pulled out all stops to ensure that her daughter’s sangeet was the talk of town. The event – which, incidentally, was a celebration of Isha’s union with some dude called Anand – featured every celebrity money can buy: From the newlyweds NickYanka and DeepVeer, to Beyoncé and the freshly risen corpses of former US Secretaries of State, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Aishwarya Rai was in attendance, dancing circles around her husband, and, in a historic moment, all three Bollywood Khans graced a single stage.

But even in this veritable galaxy of stars, Nita shone brighter than the rest. When she danced to “Maahi Ve” with sons Akash and Anant, she was lodged firmly in the centre, where she belonged – overshadowing them with a spirit and energy that waned only when she was forced to step aside for Isha’s grand entrance. Then there was her couples number with husband Mukesh, which gave us traumatic flashbacks to the Abhi-Ash sangeet effort, as the male half of the equation all but melted into the dazzling stage. And then there was the performance set to “Shubh Aarambh”, at the end of which, the blushing bride is pulled out of the shadows onto the stage.    

Naturally, in a bid to show all of assembled Bollywood that her item numbers are on point, Mama Ambani graced the proceedings with the only solo performance of the night, ostensibly dedicated to Isha: a semi-classical take on “Madhurashtakam”. Rekha, who usually performs this honour at other filmi gatherings, could only watch in awe as Nita twirled and thumka-ed, basking in the admiration of a thousand eyes.

Because where Western moms will try and channel their own thirst for attention through their children – who can forget a slightly too supportive Kris at Kim’s nude Playboy shoot, reassuring her that she is doing amazing, sweetie? – any desi auntie worth her salt knows how to turn the spotlight on herself, to hell with the kids.

I suppose we should have expected this: Nita is a trained Bharatanatyam dancer in a sea of garba-loving G-U-J-J-Us. Was she just a doting mom trying to enjoy the wedding of her only daughter to the fullest – more so when said mother is supervising the biggest, fattest, Indian wedding in modern history?

Say what you will, the woman has been in the spotlight more than her own daughter, but she is the one who’s given the Ambanis a glamour quotient that sets them apart from our other staid billionaire industrialists. Her own wedding to Mukesh, before Instagram shaadis, was a relatively simple affair. This might be Nita Ambani’s well-earned moment in the sun, a chance for the rest of us plebs to be left breathless by her killer moves and eye-watering lehengas.

And let Kris Jenner eat cake. Because she could never compete with our national OTT aunty.

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