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In costly matrimony

Former Solicitor General of India Harish Salve’s daughter Sakshi’s take on opulent weddings is not a satire, she insists, but a “we are like this only” celebration

I spent an obscene amount on my trousseau, and I didn’t even get married. My Tarun Tahiliani lehenga is lying in a warehouse somewhere,” laughs Sakshi Salve.

She can afford to. The 32-year-old is daughter to one of India’s best-known lawyers, senior counsel Harish Salve, who most recently was in the news for saving actor Salman Khan from spending a night in jail. Salve’s digs at how “we and people like us” live and get married have made it to a book titled, The Big Indian Wedding: the Ultimate Guide For Dummies, published by Rupa Publications India. “I am laughing the most at myself and my family,” she continues. “So how can anyone take offense?”

SakshiPic/Bipin Kokate

Seated in the Dolphin suite of the Taj Mahal Palace & Towers in Colaba, Salve’s manner is self-deprecating but pleasing. She is down from Delhi, where she lives with her parents at the posh Golf Links.

It was in 2013, when she was in charge of planning entertainment for back-to-back weddings that she wished to chronicle India’s fancy weddings. It was also the time she realised she could write. “I’d often write the script for the show held on sangeet nights, and relatives would tell my parents, ‘Your daughter is funny’. So, I thought, I can do this.”

Although Salve studied business in London, following it with stints at Barclays and UBS, and took to culinary learning at Le Cordon Bleu after calling off her 2010 wedding (“we were incompatible”), she says with writing, she has found her calling.

The book, she packs with anecdotes (no names) about those who go the whole hog to get hitched — mehendi functions on a yacht; bachelorettes in Las Vegas and whiskey bottles that are sent as shagun. Unapologetic about belonging to the very group she discusses tongue firmly in cheek, Salve takes a swipe at sister Saaniya Siddiqui too. She speaks of how her younger sister realised she “needed” a few things days before her 2014 Goa wedding. This included 88 pairs of shoes, 24 evening clutches, 14 Chanel bags, and 15 lipsticks from M.A.C.

“It’s a funny book, yes, but it’s also a comment on why we treat the wedding day the way we do. Marriage cannot be the be-all and end-all. They are short-lived these days.”

Today’s alliances are a far cry, she knows, from the warm marriage her parents, Harish and Meenakshi share.

The man who has Mukesh Ambani, Amitabh Bachchan (he released her book in Mumbai) and the Tata Group for clients, and appeared in the high profile Bilkis Bano Gujarat Riots case of 2003, was careful, says the daughter, to ensure the girls didn’t carry a chip on their shoulder. “He graduated to success. When he was just a lawyer, he could spend little time with us, so he made sure we took two months off a year and travelled with him.”

Hailing from Nagpur, Harish Salve arrived in Delhi when he was 20, says the daughter, to study chartered accountancy, and that’s where the family stayed.

It was much later as adults, Salve says, that she and Saaniya realised he was “important”.

“We were given what we wanted, but if we went overboard, conditions were set. If you got good grades, you could buy what you wished. We learnt to value things.”

That, and valuing true friends, she gets from her father. “This ‘knowing the right people’ is a recent phenomena. My father’s closest friends are still from Nagpur. His clients are friends too, but he knows where to draw the line. I learnt that from him.

At the book launch, it was friends from back in school who flew down to be with me,” she says. “It’s good to stay close to
your roots.”

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