March 31, 2023, ended with a bang for the entertainment and culture industry of India, as the country witnessed the launch of the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC) at the Jio World Centre in Mumbai’s Bandra-Kurla Complex area. What followed was a fun-filled, starry weekend dedicated to arts, culture, and entertainment, with the who’s who of the national and international circuit in attendance – from Sadhguru, Gaur Gopal Das to Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Gigi Hadid, Tom Holland, and Zendaya.
The said cultural centre, inaugurated by Kokilben Dhirubhai Ambani, boasts of a 2000-seater grand theatre, a four-storey art house, a pavilion (which is a museum-like 52,627-sq. ft space for art shows and exhibitions), and a studio theatre. Envisioned by Indian philanthropist Nita Ambani, who is the founder and chairperson of NMACC is “An ode to our nation. The cultural centre aims to preserve and promote Indian arts. I hope our spaces nurture and inspire talent, bringing together communities from across India and the globe," read her quote on the centre’s official website.
The grand opening began with a dance musical directed by Feroz Abbas Khan, titled ‘Civilisation to Nation: The Journey of Our Nation’, which featured almost 350 artists. This featured an opening act by Nita Ambani, who showcased her Bharatnatyam skills on stage. It was followed by an epic fashion exhibition curated by Hamish Bowles, showcasing some of the most memorable and noteworthy works by Indian designers such as Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Tarun Tahiliani, Rahul Mishra, Manish Malhotra, Ritu Kumar, Anamika Khanna, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, and several others.
Scroll down to check out the highlights from the two-day inaugural extravaganza of NMACC in Mumbai:
Celebrities from both, Hollywood and Bollywood, descended on the NMACC pink carpet for the inaugural event over the first weekend of April 2023. The line-up included Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Nick Jonas, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Aditi Rao Hydari, Madhuri Dixit Nene, Sonam Kapoor, Rashmika Mandanna, Ayushmann Khurrana, Tahira Kashyap Khurrana, Rajkummar Rao, Shraddha Kapoor, Tom Holland, Zendaya, and Penelope Cruz. Prominent names from the Indian music and design fraternity also graced the NMACC pink carpet, including, Manish Malhotra, Prateek Kuhad, Shreya Ghoshal, Tarun Tahiliani, JJ Valaya, Rahul Mishra, and many others.
Spotlight: Impromptu performances
Day 2 also marked an interesting array of performances by Indian cinema’s finest such as Rashmika Mandanna, Ranveer Singh, and Varun Dhawan. But what garnered the most attention were the impromptu performances by other artists present at the event. For instance, Alia Bhatt danced to Nacho Nacho (Hindi version of the Oscar-winning Naatu Naatu song from RRR) with Rashmika Mandanna.
Meanwhile, Shah Rukh Khan joined Varun Dhawan and Ranveer Singh to perform on his hit number ‘Jhoome Jo Pathan’ from Pathaan, which is King Khan’s latest blockbuster hit.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas brought out her inner desi girl and shook a leg with Ranveer Singh to Gallan Goodiyaan song from the 2015 hit film Dil Dhadakne Do.
And if that was not all, Gigi Hadid joined Varun Dhawan on stage for a quick lift and spin moment. “@Varundvn making my Bollywood dreams come true,” she wrote as Gigi reminisced about this electrifying moment on Instagram later.
The missing chapter
The NMACC grand opening demanded attention from the media and common man from across the globe by ‘bringing the best of India and the world’, which is the multi-disciplinary centre’s aim, according to their official website. However, the guestlist seemed to be limited to supermodels, actors, and influencers, which was surprising since the cultural centre aims to put the spotlight on a huge variety of art, especially Indian. Then why was the OG art and culture crew missing from this grand event? Where were the writers, poets, dance artists, folk artists, textile artists, theatre artists, and others?
The entertainment and culture scene of India have always been (and will be) intertwined with music, poetry, dance, music, and theatre. And our country has no dearth of such artists, who are known to create magic by combining their art with the rich heritage and culture of the nation. So, when there comes an opportunity to put the spotlight on the best of what we have to offer, why limit ourselves to the ‘best faces forward’ and why not instead put ‘best talent forward’, regardless of economic status, caste, creed, etc. All in all, we hoped for a better representation, and hopefully, we may get to see that in the near future.
Memorable pink carpet moments
A-fashion game from the world over was brought to the NMACC day 1 and day 2 pink carpet during the grand opening event. Both, national and international celebrities, served an array of noteworthy fashion looks.
American actor Zendaya and supermodel Gigi Hadid stunned the desi audience as they sashayed down the pink carpet in a pre-draped sari on Day 2. Zendaya rocked a midnight blue Rahul Mishra sari, enhanced with 3D hand embroidery and crystal work all over. The sari had a beautiful long trail, and the outfit was paired with a golden house. Her hair and accessories were kept minimal, featuring Bulgari Serpenti jewels and a messy hairdo.
Supermodel Gigi, on the other hand, stepped out in a white chikankari pre-draped sari by ace designer duo Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, with crystals and sequins work in gold. She complemented this with a south Indian jewellery-inspired golden blouse with tassels. Netizens had a field day after Gigi’s look was revealed – while some couldn’t stop talking about how mesmerising she looked in this desi-inspired attire, others couldn’t stop sharing memes related to the golden blouse.
Bollywood’s King Khan stole the show with his smoking hot blazer look. He donned an all-black outfit featuring a plain black shirt, trousers, and belt, and a black blazer with stripes and gold button detailing.
Priyanka Chopra’s outfit combined the vintage and modern eras. Designed by Amit Aggarwal and styled by Ami Patel, the global icon’s past meets present outfit was made using ‘a 65-year-old Banarasi patola sari with silver threads and a gold electroplating on khadi silk’. It was paired with a sequin sheet holographic bustier that reflected the nine colours of the ikat weave.
Bollywood’s very own fashionista Sonam Kapoor made a statement on the pink carpet dressed in a multi-kali and multi-coloured embellished lehenga with a bustier blouse by Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla. The diva’s fashion-forward ensemble was complemented by an even more dramatic makeup look comprising kohl-lined, smokey eyes, nude lips, darkened brows, blushed cheekbones, and a contoured face.
Another actor that made heads turn at the NMACC gala pink carpet was Kriti Sanon, who took the fashion game a notch higher in a sari gown with a thigh-high slit. It was made using a black and gold Banarasi fabric and featured a dramatic cape. Her ensemble was designed by Monisha Jaising and accessorised with a pair of statement earrings, matching finger accessories, a pair of black heels, and a sleek braid.
For more looks from the NMACC pink carpet, click here
More on NMACC
NMACC’s April 2023 line-up looks promising with live performances and exhibitions including ‘The Great Indian Musical: Civilization to Nation’, the musical masterpiece that combines dance, drama, music, fashion, and more; ‘India in Fashion’ (that was launched on April 1, 2023, and will go on till June 4, 2023), ‘Sangam/Confluence), a visual arts exhibit that celebrates the works of contemporary artists influenced by India (ongoing till June 4, 2023); a songwriting workshop with Kamakshi Khanna and Mali; and an Indian classical and fusion session with z-rod and sarod by Sarang Kulkarni and a couple of other artists. Check out Book My Show or NMACC’s official website for more information.