The trend of playing cards during Diwali isn’t just a Bollywood obsession. Like the film fraternity, many popular TV celebrities, too, host Diwali card parties. Taash gatherings start as early as 10 days before Diwali, beginning late at night and going on till the wee hours of the morning. Here’s a round-up of the biggest ones.
The top hosts
TV bigwig Ekta Kapoor leads the way among the hosts. This year, she will throw her card party on October 31, clubbing it with her parents’ wedding anniversary. All the usual suspects from the television and film industries will be spotted, with regulars like Sakshi Tanwar, Urvashi Dholakia, Hiten Tejwani, Sameer Soni, his wife Neelam, and more.
Among the other folks who love hosting are Sandeep Sikand, Meet Brothers, Sudeep Sahir, Pooja Ghai and Munisha Khatwani.
“Some of them do play with high stakes. They can be fanatics who come with big, fat wads of cash. It is tough to talk to them. They’ll snap at you even if you say a ‘hi’ to them,” says an insider, who is a regular at such parties. “The guys are the hard-core players; there are fewer women who bet a lot of money. The ladies seem more interested in showing off their designer clothes and jewellery. The whole environment is rather filmi,” says the source.
Munisha adds, “Even if it’s a pot of `20,000, no one wants to give it away. At times, even arguments occur during such parties.” She won `22,000 at a party this year and says she is feeling lucky for the parties to come.
Among the regular players are brothers Ronit and Rohit Roy, Shabbir Ahluwalia, Arjun Bijlani, Karan Mehra, Mohit Malik, Naman Shaw, Karan R Mehra, Shailesh-Ashita Gulabani, Mansi Verma, Kishwar Merchant, Suyash Kumar, Ritu Choudhary Seth, Sudeep Sahir and Anita Hassandani, among others. Shobha Kapoor and Hiroo Johar are ardent players too.
At Ekta’s house, there are three rooms for three different levels of the game. While one table has lakhs running in the pot, others are restricted to thousands. People win anywhere between `6-`15 lakh in one night. Every card party has tables starting from smaller denominations like `10,000-`50,000 to the bigger ones from `1 lakh onwards. Naman Shaw, who won `60,000 last year, says, “It is considered a good omen to play for fun during Diwali and it’s a good way to meet friends and make some money,”