Radhika Merchant, fiance of Anant Ambani, recently performed at a private event that was attended by the country’s most influential names. Hosted by the Ambanis at the Jio World Centre, the Bharatanatyam performance, called arangetram, marks her graduation to performing on stage.
Mumbai’s biggest names gathered at the Jio World Centre in Bandra Kurla Complex recently to attend an event hosted by Reliance Industries chairman and India’s biggest business tycoon, Mukesh Ambani. The performance, called arangetram or “ascent to stage” marks the completion of formal Bharatanatyam training as well as the dancer’s graduation to train others and perform on stage. Radhika Merchant, who’s engaged to Reliance Industries’ younger heir Anant Ambani, has reportedly trained in classical dance under the guidance of Guru Bhavana Thakar.
Radhika Merchant trained for eight years prior to her arangetram
Reportedly, Merchant trained in Bharatanatyam for eight years at the Shree Nibha Arts, a Mumbai-based dance academy that boasts of a 25-year history. Her performance marked her official on-stage solo debut and began with a Pushpanjali, which invokes deities on stage. This was followed by other traditional elements of classical performances including invocations to gods with traditional ragas and elaborate storytelling.
Merchant also touched upon themes like shabri’s longing of deity Ram, dance of deity Krishna with gopis, the story of young Krishna, and the eternal dance of deity Nataraj. She also performed the complicated “AstaRasa,” which involves representing eight basic emotions inherent to the human being (as described in scriptures) – shringaar (love), hasya (laughter), Karuna (sorrow), raudra (anger), bhaya (fear), veera (heroism), bibhatsa (disgust), and adbhuta (wonder).
The performance was rounded out with the “tillana” which features intricate footwork, hand gestures, and postures. Merchant reportedly received a thunderous applause at the end of the event. In attendance were celebrities like Ranveer Singh, Aamir Khan, Jasmin Bhasin, Aly Goni, Zaheer Khan, Sagarika Ghatge, and Salman Khan, all dressed in their formal best.
Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thakeray was also present with his mother Rashmi Thackeray and brother Tejas Thackray. The Ambani family featured Anil Ambani, Nita Ambani, Mukesh Ambani, Tina Ambani, Akash Ambani, Shloka Mehta, and Prithvi Ambai. Incidentally, Nita Ambani is also a trained bharatanatyam dancer.
Radhika Merchant reportedly got engaged to Anant Ambani in a private ceremony in 2019. She regularly attends official family events and the daughter of Encore Healthcare CEO Viren Merchant. Merchant has a degree in politics and economics from New York University. As per a report by the First Post, she wore a Manish Malhotra design for her arangetram.
All images: Courtesy @alpakhimani/Instagram