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Security on break-point at Sania's reception

April 15, 2010 22:35 IST

Sania Mirza and Shoaib MalikThe security at the Taj Krishna in the upscale Banjara Hills locality is tight. Actually, to say that is an understatement. There are at least two points where the bags are being checked, guests being frisked and suspicious-looking characters questioned.

The Emerald Room, the grandest banquet hall in the hotel, is getting its final touches before it becomes the cynosure of all eyes later in the evening.

This is where Sania Mirza will host her wedding reception. The tennis sensation, who got married to controversial Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik three days ago, is perhaps used to being the centre of attention. But, clearly, the upscale hotel used to the hush-hush exclusivity is yet to come to terms with the sudden media glare.

OB vans of every news channel worth its salt have parked themselves in a long narrow lane opposite the hotel. Journalists -- male and female -- have stationed themselves right outside the hotel gates for hours now.

The hotel authorities, clearly not used to the paparazzi culture of Mumbai, seem to be at their wit's end trying to tackle the media persons trying to get into the hotel.

The Emerald Room itself has been cordoned off. Despite a trade exhibition happening next to it, the security is on its feet warding off unwanted attention and snooping journalists.

We took a round of the hotel and checked out just what is in store for the couple and the 1000-odd guests who are expected to attend the wedding reception.

For one, the grand Imperial Ballroom is decorated with bright red flowers at the entrance. When we went there the preparations were still on.

Beyond the Imperial room are the huge lawns where a spectacular tent has been erected. A hotel official told us it can easily accommodate more than 900 to 950 guests at a single time. The tent is made in a way that it prevents guests who are at the pool to get a view of what is happening inside.

Made out of golden and yellow cloth, it has food counters on all four sides with a live tandoor overlooking the pool. The tent is supported by a single pole right in the middle and has food counters that will presumably serve salads and starters.

Over 60-odd camera crews have already parked themselves outside and as the hour of the reception closes in, more are expected. The cross-border romance between the two athletes has generated enough curiosity for a Geo TV, a news channel from Pakistan to send its team to cover the event.

Fatima, who works as an anchor for the channel, told us her Indian counterparts have been forthcoming and warm in welcoming them though she is somewhat amazed at how people here immediately identify her as being a Pakistani.

"I don't look different and I haven't even dressed differently," she says, "But the moment they know I am from Pakistan they are forthcoming."

We have, she adds, treated her rather well -- her visa application was cleared in a matter of days and here she is.

What did you say in the application, you ask intrigued. "Nothing," she replies coolly, "I just told them I was here to cover the wedding!"

Photograph: TV9

Abhishek Mande in Hyderabad