Friday, December 16, 2011

Filming Elephants at an Indian Wedding

A Short Documentary: Day Two

Okay, the second day of this little production went a bit more smoothly.  A friend of a friend connected our small crew with "Tony". Tony is a wedding planner who happens to specialize in Royal Weddings.  These are not weddings for Lords and Ladies or Indian Princes. No, these are just really big, very expensive, and over-the-top weddings. Think Vegas meets Jaipur.
Tony told us to meet him in a North Delhi neighborhood called Pitam Pura no later than 6pm. Delhi traffic was heavy that evening, but we managed to get there only thirty minutes late. We called Tony, who was actually not on location yet... "stuck in traffic." The wedding pavilion did not disappoint. It was massive. We passed several other pavilions before finding our destination. There is a lot of money being spent on weddings in Indnia. One of these pavillions actually had a one-third-scale Eiffel Tower in the entrance. Vegas.
Tony showed by 6:45 and gave us the drill:  two elephants, eight horses, three bands, twelve guys with mobile chandeliers (connected to a car battery and, oh yes, not to worry: 'completely safe'). There were easily over one thousand guests. The parking lot was filled with German engineering: Mercedes, BMW, Audi. The happy couple were gifted two brand new cars - a big white Ford SUV, and a white Honda sedan.
We had a great time.  Interviewed the Mahouts, filmed a huge fireworks display. The wedding goers danced in the street. The elephants who took money from well-wishers (Long trunks grasped each 100 rupee bill and gently passed them up to the mahout.  Each elephant-driver waggled his head, gave a polite "danyavad," and deftly pocketed bill after bill as they flowed upward).
Many rupees were spent on this wedding night, and although it was crazy and loud, it was full of joy.  Without a doubt, this bash was the largest wedding celebration I have ever attended. And its on film.

Day Three is scheduled for late January... so stay tuned.

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