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Footloose India parties with fatter wallets

In the elite party zones of Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, the last six days of December are an endless round of bright lights, music, dance, food and revelry.

entertainment Updated: Dec 25, 2007 18:26 IST

Have you set your party rules this season? If not, then better get cracking. Party planners in India say there are 60 ways to let your hair down this time.

Get drunk, go wacky, try the offbeat, indulge in one of Delhi's chic themes -which are colourful and exotic - or dance with the hot bods from Bollywood. These are just a few.

In the elite party zones of Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, the last six days of December are an endless round of bright lights, music, dance, food and revelry. Never mind the grinding poverty outside.

Delhi's party purse is fatter this year. The estimates, according to event managers and party planners, range from Rs.500,000 to Rs.1 million.

The parties in the capital can be grouped into two categories - private or open bashes hosted in hotels. A conservative estimate puts the number of open parties in the capital at 300 - which includes those in star properties, exclusive eateries and nightspots.

The yearend dos in the capital this year stand out for their exotic themes. Almost every party has devised its own colour code.

The Radisson MBD, a high-end resort on the outskirts of the capital, has chosen gold and black as its shades. The colours, say resort officials, represent positive energy and glamour.

Tabula Rasa, an upend restaurant in Saket, a new entertainment hub of the capital, is sporting a black-and-red look for its "Red Hot Spicy" New Year party. Its motto: If it ain't hot, it isn't happening.

The colours, said restaurant owner Sohrab Sitaram, are all about fun, glitz and decadence. "I will wear black and red myself and so will my staff. The eatery will be redone in black and red, from the cutlery, upholstery and even walls, but I cannot vouch for the revellers." The spread is Continental - a mix of Spanish, Mediterranean, Italian and of course Oriental and Indian.

Dilip Cherian, a communication honcho and owner of Perfect Relations, an interface firm in Delhi, is going "red and green" for his party at the Lodhi Restaurant, next to the Lodhi gardens in the capital.

"Red and green are the shades of Christmas," said Cherian, who has invited a select group of friends to the party. "I am more concerned about the food I serve. I supervise it right from the stage it is cooked till it is laid out on the table," he laughs.

He is one of the few who believe that the truly deluxe set in the capital and the country is moving away from "artifice".

"Themes are so last-year. People are tired of being in other's uniforms, putting together an image just because they want to have a good time," Cherian said. His dress code is "comfort" so long as it flashes a bit of red and green.

However, the bulk of Delhi's party-hoppers still swear by esoteric themes. "I am going Italian this year. My party is themed La Dolce Vita (Italian for The Sweet Life) after the 1960 Federico Fellini classic. It will be held in my Jaunapur farmhouse," said Diljeet Titus, owner of the legal firm Titus & Co, and a visible Page 3 face. He is known for his exotic theme parties.

Last year too the lawyer brought an Italian marketplace to the sprawling lawns of his farmhouse.

Themes are as varied as "American, Scottish, Turkish, Greek and Royal India".

Last week, exporter and heritage hotelier Jamil and Amu Saidi organised a mujra to ring in the Yuletide spirit. A few weeks ago, a Delhi-based businessman with substantial business stakes in London recreated Scotland in his farmhouse on a Sunday afternoon. There were pipes from Scotland, authentic Scottish liquor and food.

"Prices are going up, but it really does not pinch as Indians have more disposable incomes. They can splurge," says page three veteran in the capital, giving a rough break-up of party expenses this year.

"Kiran, the mujra artist, for instance charged Rs.500,000. Add to it the food for nearly 700 guests. It costs Rs.5,000 per guest, which includes the cost of ambience, seats, food, entertainment and professional hostesses, who escort guests to the venue from the parking lots," he said. All of it adds up to nearly Rs.10 million.

In metros like Mumbai and Bangalore, parties are mega affairs. The billion-dollar movie industry in Bollywood spins enough surplus cash to keep the party machine buzzing 24x7.

Mumbai, says event planner Lina Ingle, warmed up to the New Year spirit a couple of weeks ago with the inauguration of the city's biggest party lounge, D Ultimate, at Andheri.

"We spent Rs.65 million on the interiors alone. It is exclusive. Only Bollywood celebrities and the who's who of Mumbai will be allowed in for the Christmas eve and New Year party," says Ingle, the brain behind the project.

Bangalore's 800-odd pubs are high on rock and Bollywood. The Country Club Ltd of India, a high-end family entertainment chain, has roped in Amrita Arora to perform in Bangalore.