Sonam Kapoor and #EverydayPhenomenal: Should Celebrities Tone Down Their Extravagance?

Watching all the Instagram stories in the run up to Sonam Kapoor and Anand Ahuja’s wedding, I too was hooked for about a week.

That excitement had barely subsided and it’s been revived again by Vogue India – the final word, rather the sacri libri of Indian fashion – which has put the pair on its cover and made the Kapoor-Ahuja wedding the focus of its July issue.

In the midst of all this excitement, I was surprised by something Kapoor-Ahuja said in her interview to Vogue. In the piece, she tells the interviewer, “I didn’t want an opulent wedding, we didn’t want to show off. We wanted something small and intimate and just have our friends and family there… People keep bringing up The Leela, but the hotel is my home because Samyukta [Nair of the Leela Group] is my best friend, and her dad is one of Anand’s father’s closest friends.”

Credit: #EverydaySimple by Abhinit Khanna

Her comment, which really contrasted with most people’s – including mine – impression of the wedding, also reminded me of an old article about a Lok Sabha bill from the 1960s. Sometime in the mid-60s, the Indian government introduced a bill in the lower house, seeking to limit expenditures on lavish weddings, proposing that “those with a Rs 5 lakh-plus budget contribute to a welfare fund – it also empowers the government to specify guest numbers or items served to avoid food wastage.” The bill, like that entire era, bore the stamp of Nehruvian statism and prescribed a civic obligation to exercise self-control at weddings and parties.

Cut to 2018, when most of the country is reeling under the cumulative impact of demonetisation, GST and the Modi government’s other failed attempts to boost our economy, and I wonder about the point of extravagant weddings. In addition to this, Ahuja’s company, Shahi Exports recently made news because management at a Bengaluru garment factory alleged beat up workers – for demanding a raise in wages. One headline stated, ‘Sonam Kapoor’s in-laws spend millions on wedding but get their own workers assaulted’.

Credit: #EverydaySimple by Abhinit Khanna

So when Kapoor-Ahuja revealed her idea of ‘simple’, it made me wonder if Bollywood celebrities should be more responsible about the kind of visuals they disseminate on social media. Should we, as a society, promote austerity and challenge the expectation of how much we should spend on weddings?

Credit: #EverydaySimple by Abhinit Khanna

Kapoor and Ahuja have used the hashtag ‘Everyday Phenomenal’ for their relationship, and so it was for their wedding as well. But does making everyday phenomenal have to mean negating #everydaysimple, right? So, I made some memes to explore what Kapoor-Ahuja might have meant or felt when she said ‘simple’.

Featured image credit: Sonam Kapoor-Ahuja’s Instagram/Vogue India