If the cocktail party Catelonian President Artur Mas threw in Mumbai just recently was to attract big spending Indians to Barcelona, he’s succeeded so spectacularly that he’s ruffled some feathers back home. There’s some grumbling about national pride being “sold out” for the big fat Mittal wedding that took over national monuments and almost brought the city to a halt.Michelin-star chef Sergi Arola, who presides over an eponymous restaurant in a suburban Mumbai 5-star, was flown down to prepare the wedding feast for Pramod Mittal’s 26-year-old daughter Srishti to her 36-year-old boyfriend Gulraj Behl, a top executive with HSBC.
In 2004, Pramod’s brother — steel king Lakshmi Niwas Mittal — had hosted what is considered history’s second most expensive wedding when his daughter Vanisha tied the knot with investment banker Amit Bhatia at the Palace of Versailles. Fittingly, it was Srishti’s uncle who kick-started the 3-day celebration with a reception at the iconic Maritime Museum which alone is said to have cost a million euros. Among brothers of this stature it would seem no big deal, but it marks a belated renewal of warmth. The brothers were hardly on speaking terms after Lakshmi Mittal — apparently against the wishes of his father Mohan Lal Mittal — split the family steel business in 1995 and took control of the lucrative international arm, leaving Pramod holding the relatively miniscule India operations. From collaborators, they became competitors, with every success of Lakshmi only widening the gap between them, both personally and businesswise.
Today Arcelor Mittal is the top steel producing company in the world while Pramod’s GSHL doesn’t even figure in the top 40. It is for that reason that the unbridled profligacy that marked the celebration in Barcelona could be an intended flourish. According to estimates, Pramod spent over Rs 500 crore on the wedding —an “obscene” amount to some, but just enough to put Srishti’s wedding right up there with her cousin Vanisha’s nuptials. We’re still making up our mind whether it was really Pramod’s answer to Lakshmi or simply another chapter in the Mittal “tradition” of finding investment banker sons-in-law and wedding celebrations that make international headlines.