Megha Bhatia, founder of Israni Photography and Films, now happily living in the most beautiful marriage, has covered over a thousand weddings across her entrepreneurial journey and is a witness to what goes behind the big fat Indian weddings. She captures stories through her lens, while bringing out all the human emotions that lie behind all the glitter and glam.
TBE: What inspired you to write ‘The Jitters Behind the Glitters‘? Was there a specific moment or experience that prompted you to delve into the stories behind Indian weddings?
Megha Bhatia: Ever since I got into the wedding photography industry, I always came back home to tell my father the different experiences & stories from all the weddings I worked on. Sometimes you are fortunate enough to meet warm people, and in the past 10 years they have become my new family. Today wedding planners are some of my closest friends. However, today families have not evolved in the same way that the industry has. I have witnessed firsthand that there is a gap between that bride’s family and the groom’s family. I personally believe that both families must equally contribute to the wedding. The responsibility cannot solely rest on one family.
When covid hit, I started writing my first draft after speaking to numerous brides and grooms and releasing that they have so many interesting stories to share. And that’s how I started off with writing my book. The book discusses important aspects about weddings and marriages, while keeping an onus on the bride and groom. My goal with the book is to bridge the existing gaps between families and try to balance the scales.
TBE: As a wedding photographer with extensive experience, what motivated you to capture the emotional aspects of weddings beyond the usual visual documentation?
Megha Bhatia: My motivation to capture the emotional aspects of weddings beyond the usual visual documentation stems from my deep passion for storytelling through photography. I believe that a wedding is not just a series of beautiful moments frozen in time but a narrative of love, connection, and emotion.
Emotions are at the heart of every wedding. They are what make each event unique and deeply personal. By focusing on capturing the emotional aspects, I aim to provide couples with a treasure trove of memories that not only remind them of how they looked on their special day but also how they felt. These photographs become a timeless reminder of the love and happiness shared with family and friends.
I find immense fulfilment in documenting those genuine smiles, tears of joy, and heartfelt embraces that occur spontaneously during a wedding. These moments are what make each wedding unforgettable, and it’s my privilege to preserve them for couples to cherish for generations to come. My work is about creating a visual narrative that allows couples to relive the emotions and love they experienced on their wedding day whenever they look at their photos. That’s what makes wedding photography so incredibly rewarding to me.
TBE: Your book explores the complex emotions and stories hidden behind the grandeur of Indian weddings. How did you approach the process of selecting and crafting the stories that are featured in the book?
Megha Bhatia: I took a deeply personal approach. I drew upon my extensive experience as a wedding photographer, where I’ve had the privilege of being on the floor, intimately experiencing these moments alongside my brides and grooms. And I believe that each wedding is a unique tapestry of emotions, traditions, and personal stories. I started by reflecting on the countless couples I’ve worked with over the years and the special moments that stood out. These moments were not just about the grandeur and rituals but about the genuine, heartfelt emotions that unfolded throughout the day.
Many of the stories featured in the book are from my own clients. They are real couples with real stories, and I wanted to capture the essence of their love and the cultural richness of their weddings. I sat down with them, listened to their journeys to understand the significance of the traditions they were following. It was important for me to connect with them on a personal level to truly convey the depth of their emotions. By showcasing these personal narratives, I aimed to provide readers with a window into the beautiful and often complex world of Indian weddings. I wanted to go beyond the surface and reveal the emotional depth that exists beneath the grandeur, allowing readers to appreciate the love, joy, and sometimes even challenges that make each wedding a remarkable story in its own right.
TBE: In your opinion, what is the most significant misconception people have about the ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding,’ and how does your book address and challenge this perception?
Megha Bhatia: In my opinion, one of the most significant misconceptions people have about the ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding’ is that it’s primarily about showmanship and ostentation. Many perceive it as an extravagant display of wealth and status, often overshadowing the true essence of the union it celebrates.
My book, “The Jitters behind the Glitters,” aims to address and challenge this perception head-on. Through a series of short stories, it delves deep into the intricacies of modern-day marriages within the Indian context. These stories are not about showcasing opulence or grandeur; instead, they reveal the raw and emotional anecdotes of brides, grooms, and their families.
By highlighting these emotional narratives, my book emphasises that a wedding is not merely a spectacle but a profound and intimate celebration of love, commitment, and family bonds. It underscores the fact that what truly matters is not the size or extravagance of the wedding but the respect and love shared between the couple.”The Jitters behind the Glitters” serves as a reminder that weddings, regardless of their scale, are about the people involved and the journey they embark on together. It encourages readers to focus on the importance of nurturing a beautiful and respectful marriage rather than getting lost in the external trappings of a ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding.’
TBE: Throughout the book, you highlight the importance of a respectful and meaningful marriage over the grand wedding event. How do you think this message resonates with readers, especially in today’s social landscape?
Megha Bhatia: In today’s social landscape, where societal norms and expectations around weddings are evolving, the message of valuing a respectful and meaningful marriage over the grand wedding event resonates deeply with readers. In today’s socially conscious and value-driven landscape, the message of prioritising a respectful and meaningful marriage resonates by acknowledging that the wedding event is just the beginning of a lifelong journey. It encourages readers to invest their energy and focus into building a strong and loving partnership, which ultimately leads to more fulfilling and lasting relationships.
TBE: The book covers various aspects of Indian weddings and marriages, including social media influence and the wedding market. Which of these topics do you think holds the most relevance and impact for readers?
Megha Bhatia: I agree that both topics, social media influence and the wedding market, hold significant relevance and impact for readers. In today’s digital age, social media has a profound impact on how weddings are planned, celebrated, and perceived. It influences everything from wedding trends and aesthetics to guest interactions and documenting the event. Many readers are likely to resonate with the discussion on social media’s role in weddings, as they may have experienced the pressure to present their own weddings
in a certain way online. The book’s exploration of this topic can help readers navigate the complexities of balancing personal experiences with the desire for social validation and connection.
Understanding the dynamics of the wedding market is crucial for readers who are planning their own weddings or are involved in the industry. The wedding market encompasses a wide range of services and products, and it can be overwhelming to navigate. Readers may find valuable insights on how to make informed decisions about their own weddings, whether it’s budgeting, vendor selection, or aligning their values with their wedding choices.
Ultimately, the book’s coverage of both these topics adds depth and context to the broader narrative about Indian weddings and marriages.
TBE: Could you share a memorable experience from your photography journey that strongly influenced the stories or themes explored in ‘The Jitters Behind the Glitters’?
Megha Bhatia: I’d love to share a memorable experience from my photography journey that significantly influenced the themes explored in ‘The Jitters Behind the Glitters.’
One of the most impactful moments in my career as a wedding photographer occurred during a destination wedding in Rajasthan, India. The wedding was a blend of traditional Rajasthani customs and modern elements, and it was a beautiful celebration of love between two individuals from different cultural backgrounds.
What struck me the most during this event was the warmth and hospitality of the family & towards their ritual. They embraced the couple and their guests with open hearts, sharing their customs, music, and local cuisine. It was a powerful reminder of the way weddings can bridge cultural divides and bring people together in celebration.
As I photographed this wedding, I realised that the true essence of weddings goes beyond the surface-level grandeur. It’s about the connections forged between people, the blending of cultures and traditions, and the raw, unfiltered emotions that surface during such a significant life event.
This experience deeply influenced my perspective on wedding photography and the stories I wanted to tell. It inspired me to capture not only the visual beauty but also the emotional depth of weddings. It reinforced the idea that behind the glitters of elaborate ceremonies and opulent decorations, there are real people, real stories, and real emotions that deserve to be documented and celebrated.
This realisation played a pivotal role in shaping the themes explored in ‘The Jitters Behind the Glitters.’ It encouraged me to seek out and showcase the stories of couples and families who embrace the cultural richness of weddings while cherishing the universal aspects of love, commitment, and human connection that make these moments truly special.
TBE: Indian weddings often involve the merging of families, communities, and cultures. How do you think your book contributes to a better understanding of these dynamics and the challenges they bring?
Megha Bhatia: My book makes a significant contribution to fostering a better understanding of the dynamics and challenges associated with the merging of families, communities, and cultures in Indian weddings in several ways. By shedding light on these dynamics and challenges, my book aims to promote greater understanding and empathy among readers. It encourages individuals and families to approach the merging of families, communities, and cultures with an open heart and a willingness to learn from one another, ultimately enriching the wedding experience and strengthening the bonds of love and unity.
TBE: What were the most rewarding and challenging aspects of compiling and writing these emotional narratives?
Megha Bhatia: Compiling and writing emotional narratives for ‘The Jitters Behind the Glitters’ was a deeply rewarding but also challenging process. The most rewarding part was capturing and conveying the authentic emotions of the couples and families I worked with. These genuine moments of love, joy, and connection are what make wedding photography so fulfilling. Knowing that I was preserving precious memories for couples and their families was immensely gratifying. I felt a sense of responsibility to capture these moments in a way that would allow them to relive their special day for years to come.
Choosing which stories to feature in the book was challenging due to the sheer volume of emotional narratives I had collected over the years. I wanted to represent a diverse range of experiences while maintaining a cohesive narrative.Ensuring that I approached sensitive topics and emotions with the right balance of empathy and respect was challenging. Each couple’s story was unique, and it was important to handle their experiences with care.
TBE: How do you envision readers, particularly those who are not familiar with Indian wedding culture, connecting with and gaining insights from your book?
Megha Bhatia: I envision readers, including those who are not familiar with Indian wedding culture, connecting with and gaining valuable insights from my book in several ways like through their personal stories. The book encourages readers to reflect on their own values, relationships, and experiences, sparking a sense of connection even if they come from different cultural backgrounds. It prompts readers to think about the significance of weddings in their own lives.
The book doesn’t just focus on the glamorous aspects of weddings but also explores the real-life challenges and dilemmas faced by couples and their families. This authenticity allows readers to gain insights into the complexities of planning and executing a wedding, regardless of the cultural context.
In essence, my book aims to bridge cultural gaps by weaving together personal stories, universal themes, and insights into the fascinating world of Indian weddings. It invites readers to explore, connect with, and gain a deeper appreciation for the cultural tapestry of Indian wedding culture while finding resonance in the shared human experiences that transcend cultural boundaries.
TBE: Could you elaborate on the role of faith in building a successful marriage, as you’ve mentioned in your book? How do you think this insight might resonate with individuals from various cultural backgrounds?
Megha Bhatia: In my book, I emphasise the role of faith in building a successful marriage, highlighting that faith can encompass religious beliefs as well as trust and confidence in one another. This insight can resonate with individuals from various cultural backgrounds. While faith may manifest differently in various cultures and religions, the fundamental concept of trust and belief in one’s partner is universal.
Readers from diverse backgrounds can relate to the idea that faith forms the bedrock of a strong and enduring marriage. Regardless of cultural or religious background, the notion that faith, in both its spiritual and emotional dimensions, plays a pivotal role in a successful marriage is a valuable insight. It encourages readers to reflect on the importance of trust, loyalty, and belief in the long-term potential of their relationships.
Ultimately, the book’s exploration of faith as a cornerstone of a successful marriage offers a multi-faceted perspective that can resonate with a broad and diverse readership.It invites individuals from various cultural backgrounds to appreciate the significance of faith in its many forms while recognizing the common thread that binds all successful marriages—trust, belief, and commitment to one another.
TBE: Your book bridges the gap between the lavish spectacle of weddings and the underlying emotions. Can you tell us about a specific story that you believe encapsulates this balance?
Megha Bhatia: Allow me to share a heartwarming story about my dear friend, Rishita, who, as a life coach, brought a unique perspective to the world of weddings. In a realm where brides often find themselves immersed in the whirlwind of décor choices, bridal outfits, and meticulously curated playlists for the grand entrance, Rishita stood out as a beacon of calm and serenity.
I vividly remember asking her the secret behind her tranquil demeanour during the hectic preparations for her own wedding. With a radiant smile, she shared a profound insight that has since left an indelible mark on me. Rishita believed, with unwavering conviction, that weddings are, above all else, about happiness.
In her view, the grandeur and opulence that often surround weddings are ephemeral, fleeting moments that fade with time. What truly endures, however, are the emotions, the shared laughter, the heartfelt conversations, and the bonds strengthened during the celebration. Rishita’s sole desire was to see the people at her wedding filled with joy and happiness.
Her words resonated deeply with me and left me pondering why we often tend to view
weddings through a different lens. Rishita’s perspective serves as a gentle reminder that, amidst the elaborate arrangements and luxurious details, the essence of a wedding lies in the simple yet profound moments of happiness, love, and connection. It challenges us to reevaluate our priorities and to treasure the genuine emotions that make weddings truly memorable. Rishita’s story, in its serene wisdom, encourages us all to embrace a perspective that cherishes the significance of happiness above all else in our journey towards a lifelong commitment.
TBE: From the past to the present, how do you think the landscape of Indian weddings has evolved, and what role does tradition play in this evolution?
Megha Bhatia: The landscape of Indian weddings has undergone significant evolution from the past to the present, and tradition has played a complex and dynamic role in this transformation. Indian weddings have evolved in response to broader societal changes driven by modernization and globalisation. Increased exposure to international trends and lifestyles has influenced the way weddings are planned and executed.
The roles of brides and grooms in Indian weddings have evolved. There is a growing emphasis on gender equality and shared responsibilities. Traditionally, weddings were more patriarchal, but today, couples often collaborate in decision-making, from wedding planning to financial matters. A notable shift is the popularity of destination weddings, which were relatively rare in the past. Couples are now choosing picturesque locations and exotic destinations for their big day. Technology has had a profound impact, from online wedding planning tools to live-streamed ceremonies. Social media plays a role in shaping trends, with couples sharing their wedding experiences and influencing others.
Tradition continues to be a significant part of Indian weddings, anchoring them in cultural and familial roots. However, it has evolved to accommodate contemporary values and lifestyles. Couples often seek a balance between honouring tradition and embracing modernity, creating weddings that are meaningful, memorable, and reflective of their identities.
TBE: What message or takeaway do you hope readers will carry with them after reading ‘The Jitters Behind the Glitters’?
Megha Bhatia: With the majority of Indian weddings involving not just the merging of two people, but the blending of families, communities and cultures, it is often disillusioned as a concept to build or maintain social status. “The Jitters behind the Glitters” brings out reality and breaks the flawed perception of weddings to unravel the fact that “all that glitters is not gold.” From the past, present and future of Indian weddings, expectations versus reality, brides and the dowry system, the wedding market as well as social media, the book shines a light on all aspects of Indian weddings and marriages.
The book talks about dowry taken & given, people need to understand that it’s the marriage they need to work on. Basically if one father says to a bride’s father that lets do 50-50 I think my book has done his job.
TBE: Finally, can you share any plans for future writing projects or endeavours that you are currently working on?
Megha Bhatia: As of now, I’m focusing on the wedding season, but maybe I can try next year, with a lot more new experiences & emotions .