The excited buzz around a possible wedding between Vicky Kaushal and Katrina Kaif — two of Bollywood’s most popular actors — at an exotic 14th-century fort has gripped Indian social media.
The couple will reportedly tie the knot in a ceremony shrouded in mystery at the Six Senses Fort Barwara in the western state of Rajasthan on Thursday (9 December).
The rumoured wedding has dominated news headlines for the better part of a month amid anxiety over the global spread of the new omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.
While neither Kaushal nor Kaif has issued a public statement or even officially confirmed their relationship, a number of real-time updates over the wedding are being consistently churned out by some of India’s most prominent media houses.
These include the venue of their wedding, the bride’s wedding outfit designed by prominent Indian fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, the food menu and a strict no-phone policy for guests.
Some bizarre rumours cited by media reports said drones flying around the wedding venue would be shot down and guests would have secret codes and not be referred to by their names.
In the meantime, the country’s paparazzi continued to track cars and camped outside the airports in the hope of securing exclusive photos of the bride and groom and their families and friends.
Celebrities associated with the stars have been photographed outside the gyms they visit, on their way to doctors’ appointments, at the airport and, in some cases, while they were dining at upscale restaurants.
The decision to keep the purported high-profile Bollywood wedding as far as possible from prying eyes has likely further fuelled media frenzy in a country obsessed with movie stars.
Social media users have reacted to the long-drawn coverage of the “VicKat” wedding – as it has come to be called.
Navneet Kaur, a doctor and Twitter user, said: “Katrina and Vicky Kaushal going overboard with wedding secrecy is next level chindipana (cheapness).”
Film trade analyst Sumit Kadel said the media “must respect” the couple’s privacy.
One social media user likened the reported protocols around the wedding guests to the giant doll from Squid Game.
The couple has not addressed the rumours that they were dating. They appeared separately on filmmaker Karan Johar’s celebrity chat show Koffee with Karan in 2018.
A clip of Kaushal from his interview with Johar on 6 December last year, reacting to Kaif’s admission that she thought they would look good together, was also widely circulated online in the run-up to the purported wedding.
The actor can be seen in the clip pretend-fainting at the suggestion made by Johar.
Kaushal made his Bollywood debut in 2015 with the critically acclaimed film Masaan and is currently enjoying the success of the period film Sardar Udham, about the life of Indian revolutionary Sardar Udham Singh, who assassinated Michael O’Dwyer in London to avenge the 1919 Jallianwalah Bagh massacre in Amritsar.
Kaif’s journey in the industry dates back to 2003.
The model-turned-actor starred in several big-budget, commercial films, notably opposite Bollywood superstars Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan. She also launched her own line of cosmetics, called Kay Beauty, in 2019.
She starred in the recently released action film Sooryavanshi, opposite Kumar.
Kaif was rumoured to have had dated Khan and fellow Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor in the past, but has rarely opened up about either of those relationships.
Meanwhile, Kaushal was believed to be dating actor Harleen Sethi before dating Kaif.
Ahead of the release of three mainstream films in 2022, Kaif will join her colleagues, including Kareena Kapoor Khan, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Anushka Sharma, who have subverted traditional gender roles in the male-dominated industry and clinched lead roles after their marriages.
While Kapoor Khan is married to Bollywood superstar Saif Ali Khan, with whom she shares two children, Chopra married American singer Nick Jonas in a highly publicised event in 2018.
Women actors in Bollywood have been known to lose out on meaty roles after marriage in stark contrast to their middled-aged male colleagues who are cast opposite women younger than them by decades.