Bollywood is India’s answer to Hollywood. It’s a three-hour long journey that encompasses opulent settings, vivid attires, pulsating music, and dramatic performances. A Bollywood-themed party is no exception. It’s unapologetically dramatic, lively, and boisterous. So, how about taking a detour from the usual and wooing your guests with an experience they will cherish forever?
A Bollywood-inspired party invitation should reflect the theme and flaunt the spirit of the industry. For the perfect Bollywood vibe, I choose retro posters that feature popular faces and depict the drama and the intensity. Print the pictures on a heavy card stock. To add an authentic look, download English fonts that look like Hindi.
Along with other necessary details, ask your guests to arrive in Bollywood-inspired attire. And, mailing your invitations early will allow them plenty of time to prep — mentally and physically! Trust me, they’ll need it.
Let’s get ready to set the stage for a grand theatrical shindig! Bollywood embraces the myriad shades of India. Spruce up your couches with fluorescent cushions and Indian throws, and your tables with complementing cloths and runners. Decorate your mantle with lights and candles. Create a centerpiece with flowers and floating candles.
I use extra mattresses to create low-lying seating arrangements that work great with an Indian setting. I cover it up with a patterned sheet set and some pillows to complement the theme.
For the ultimate Bollywood experience, embellish your walls with movie posters and designate an open area for dancing. Don’t forget the disco balls and colored lights; not only do they add style, they are a saving grace for the guests who prefer dancing in the dark.
Indian parties are a culinary extravaganza. A three-course dinner buffet is usually comprised of vegetarian, meat and seafood starters, a main course, and desserts. For a quintessential Indian experience, welcome your guests with a glass of chilled mango lassi, which can be prepared earlier by blending fresh mangoes, yogurt, sugar, and a dash of cardamom. If fresh mangoes are not available, feel free to substitute with mango pulp.
While there is a plethora of Indian dishes to choose from, keep it light and simple by choosing some popular favorites. Here is a sample menu to get you started.
Chicken Makhani (broiled chicken cooked in butter with tomato puree and fenugreek)
Palak Makhan Paneer (cottage cheese cooked with tomatoes and sautéed spinach)
Dal Makhani (mixed lentils)
Cucumber Raita (cucumber and yogurt relish)
Serve with basmati rice and buttered naan (Indian bread).
Gulab Jamun (serve simmering over cold vanilla ice cream)
Contemporary Indian outfits are classic and edgy; they reflect the ethnicity and add a dose of panache. Whether you opt for traditional or modern, this isn’t a place to be subtle. Men and women: choose colors that make a statement. Think bright orange, red, green, and blue, among others.
For a Bollywood-themed party, I prefer the women don a salwar kameez — loose pants with tunic — that makes dancing a breeze. Ladies, load your arms with bangles and adorn your face with a bindi (dot on the forehead) and a maang-tikka — a piece of jewelry worn in the middle parting of the hair. Men may choose a comfortable kurta pajama.
Music and Dance
Music and dance are the soul of Bollywood and are a visual that people all over the world associate it with. Your dance floor will be the center of attraction — it is where all the action will take place. Research “top Bollywood dance songs” and load your iPod with tunes and beats that will set the stage on fire. Punjabi bhangra songs appeal to the international pallet and are extremely popular across continents.
To ease guests into the novel setting, I prepare a dance beforehand and ask them to follow my moves. Soon they are comfortable and grooving on their own.
With these ideas in place, your guests are in for an unforgettable night. Don’t forget to see them to the door when they leave with folded hands and a “Namaste.”
Photo Credits: Meena Kadri, David Higgs, Calgary reviews, Alpha & the author