The lives that the Ambani family lead are surreal to see, let alone imagine for yourself. The source of their incredible wealth is billionaire patriarch Mukesh Ambani, and he naturally provides an enviable existence for his wife, Nita, and their children, Anant, Akash and Isha. Don’t believe us? Well, just take a peek at their lavish lifestyles, which include day-to-day living in a privately owned skyscraper to nights spent rubbing elbows with A-list stars.
So it’s clear that the Ambani family have amassed a huge fortune. Yet they actually come from humble roots. In fact, Dhirubhai Ambani – Mukesh’s father – was the son of a schoolteacher. But he then served as a business clerk before he began a textile trading company with his cousin in the 1960s.
The first office of Reliance Commercial Corporation was nothing out of the ordinary at this point in time, of course. It was in fact just a 350-square-foot space with a single telephone, one table and three chairs. The Ambani family lived nearby in a two-bedroom apartment, too, and their place was a far cry from the home they’d inhabit in the future.
In spite of its very humble beginnings, though, Reliance Commercial Corporation actually expanded wildly. This seemingly caused Dhirubhai’s cousin to leave because, it’s said, he was less of a risk-taker than Dhirubhai. Nevertheless, the company would go on to incorporate energy, petrochemicals, natural resources and telecommunications into the business’ offerings.
Then, in 1985, the company’s name changed to Reliance Industries Limited, and over time it grew to become one of India’s top money-making businesses. As of 2017, in fact, Fortune claimed that it was the 203rd-largest corporation by size in the world. Obviously, this made the Ambani family very wealthy too.
At that time, Mukesh Ambani had already taken over Reliance Industries Limited following the 2002 death of Dhirubhai. He’d had the chops to handle such a role, of course. He had, for example, worked with his father since 1981 after earning a degree in chemical engineering. And as of 2016, he had been named the wealthiest man in India for ten years running.
By mid-2018, then, Mukesh’s net worth had ballooned to an astounding $44.3 billion, making him the richest person in all Asia. He’s also the wealthiest individual outside of Europe and North America. And on top of that, Forbes reported that he had become the world’s 18th-richest person, as of January 2018.
Along with Reliance, Mukesh has several other lucrative holdings too. For one, he founded the Indian Super League, a professional soccer tournament. And within the cricket-centric Indian Premier League, Mukesh and Reliance also own the Mumbai Indians. The business magnate further holds a very impressive piece of property, which he shares with his family.
So what do we know about Mukesh’s family? Well, his wife, Nita, similarly came from a humble, middle-class background. The pair met because Nita had danced Bharatanatyam, a classical style of Indian dance, for Dhirubhai Ambani. And so impressed was he by Nita’s dancing that Dhirubhai then decided that she could make a great match for his son. But it wouldn’t be simple to get the pair together.
To begin with, Dhirubhai somehow scooped Nita’s phone number and called her to set up a date with his son. But Nita was unconvinced that the man was actually who he said he was. “If you’re Dhirubhai Ambani, I’m Elizabeth Taylor,” she retorted, according to The Bridal Box.
At some point, though, Nita’s father answered the phone and spoke to the man on the line long enough to realize he was, indeed, Dhirubhai Ambani. And after apologies from the dancer, she scheduled her first date with Mukesh. Both were subsequently impressed with each other on that first outing, and it turned into more and more dates.
According to The Bridal Box, Nita even challenged Mukesh from time to time, insisting that he court her without all of the bells and whistles available to him. On one date, for example, she apparently had him leave his Mercedes behind so that they could ride a double-decker bus across Mumbai together. He “readily agreed,” Nita reportedly said.
Next time, though, it would seemingly be Nita agreeing to one of Mukesh’s ideas as they drove around Mumbai in his car. It reportedly happened when he stopped the vehicle – with green lights ahead – and asked the classical dancer to marry him. “Tell me now or I won’t start the car,” he added. Afterwards, Nita apparently jested that she only “said yes to avoid a traffic jam.”
In some ways, though, the life that Mukesh and Nita built together after their 1984 wedding sounds relatively normal. For instance, they have three children: Anant, Akash and Isha. Mukesh’s favorite restaurant in all of Mumbai is reportedly the one where he used to dine as a college student in the mid- to late-1970s. Meanwhile, Nita describes him as “shy” and “modest,” according to The Times of India. And notably, Sundays have always been dedicated to Ambani family time.
But, of course, their massive amount of money has elevated their love story to be something even more extraordinary. For starters, the Ambani family home doesn’t look like any other familial abode. The Ambanis instead enjoy their lives in a $1 billion, 27-story skyscraper called Antilia in the middle of Mumbai.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Antilia was at the time of its construction “billed as the most expensive home in history.” The skyscraper boasts, for instance, 400,000 square feet of space, which provides plenty of room for the Ambanis to have not just three helipads but also a 168-space parking garage.
The family skyscraper has many more features to flaunt, of course. Within the hundreds of thousands of square feet, the Ambanis also have a yoga studio, a swimming pool and a trio of balconies where they grow lush gardens. On top of that, they further have their own health club on the premises.
Meanwhile, the more traditional areas of the home – think bedrooms, living spaces, etc. – have their fair share of extravagance too. So, along with luxurious, ornate furnishings, many rooms within the skyscraper have extra-high ceilings that are two-to-three times as high as a normal home’s, making the spaces even more striking.
Inside Antilia, the Ambanis also have a maintenance floor likely filled by the 600 staff members needed to keep the skyscraper running. It’s notable, though, that the children reportedly have to tidy their own spaces. Nine elevators can carry everyone to the home’s various levels too, an especially handy fleet when the family employs its many entertaining spaces.
Antilia’s floor plan also includes a 50-seat movie theater as well as a ballroom built for family parties. For most, then, these incredible features make the skyscraper seem like an over-the-top abode. But Nita evidently feels that her family’s compound is just right. “It’s a modern home but with an Indian heart,” she told Vanity Fair in 2012.
Be that as it may, plenty of people had – and continue to have – opinions on Antilia. On the one side, some lauded the Ambanis when they moved into their dream home in 2010. According to the Los Angeles Times, for instance, one Twitter user showed their enthusiasm by writing, “The new India! Well done.”
On the other hand, though, some felt that the skyscraper is an extravagant show of wealth in the midst of a community in need. After all, the Ambanis’ perch apparently gives them a bird’s-eye view of the Mumbai slums, some of Asia’s worst. “Knowing that there are millions of people starving [without] clean water and adequate shelter makes this hard to hear,” wrote another Twitter user.
But author Hamish McDonald, who has written about the Ambani family’s rise to the top, said that Antilia actually sends a more personal message than that. He told The New York Times, “It’s kind of returning with a vengeance to where they made it into the middle class and trumping everybody. He’s sort of saying, ‘I’m rich, and I don’t care what you think.’”
That same principle arguably seems to apply to the Ambanis’ travel style too. You see, in 2007 Mukesh acquired for Nita the ultimate birthday present to commemorate her 44th year: her very own plane. But, unsurprisingly, it turns out that this wasn’t the propeller plane or tiny personal jet that most solo fliers own.
Instead, Mukesh shelled out $60 million for an Airbus A319, a twin-engine aircraft that would normally cart up to 160 passengers distances of up to 3,700 miles. The Ambani family jet doesn’t need that many seats, though, so they were able to upgrade the interior beyond even the most luxurious first-class lounges.
Inside of the Airbus, then, the Ambanis have a custom-built living room, bedroom, office, sky bar and even a jacuzzi. They can log into their own Wi-Fi network or watch satellite TV while they travel too. Yet even with the world just a personal plane ride away, some of the family’s most incredible moments have happened within the confines of their skyscraping home back in Mumbai.
That’s because Antilia served as the backdrop for Mukesh and Nita’s daughter Isha’s 2018 wedding. Isha had previously joined Reliance after graduating from Yale University in 2014. Then, the next year, Forbes had named her one of Asia’s women to watch. And one man likely to agree with that declaration is Anand Piramal, her fiancé, who founded his own real-estate business, Piramal Realty, in 2012.
The end of 2018 actually seemingly marked a busy social period for the Ambanis. On November 14, for instance, Mukesh and Nita celebrated the wedding of Bollywood actors Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh. Then, on December 1, Isha served as a bridesmaid in actress and close friend Priyanka Chopra’s wedding to singer Nick Jonas. After that, though, it was Isha’s turn to celebrate her nuptials.
This was, of course, no ordinary event. First, the Ambanis and Piramals marked their children’s engagement with a 600-person party that they held on Lake Como in Italy. The revelry was held inside of a luxury hotel, Villa D’Este. And not only that, but the invitees also got to watch a private concert by Grammy-winning singer John Legend.
But that was just the engagement soiree; it was for certain that Isha’s wedding celebrations would reach another level. According to the BBC, then, attendees flew into India on 100 flights that had been chartered by the Ambanis, and the family’s many guests included famous performers, politicians and business magnates.
Among them were luminaries such as HuffPost co-founder Arianna Huffington and former presidential candidate and first lady of the United States Hillary Clinton. The Clintons and the Ambanis have actually encountered one another many times over the past two decades, although Bill didn’t make the trek for Isha’s wedding.
Fortunately, Hillary nevertheless had plenty of fellow leaders to mingle with. That’s because along with Huffington, the Ambanis had also invited Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, BP CEO Bob Dudley and 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch. Isha’s friend Chopra and her newly minted husband, Jonas, attended the massive bash as well.
The festivities began in Udaipur, a romantic lakeside city in western India. And according to Reuters, an eye on the spot at the local airport at the time noticed an increase in security as the Ambanis’ high-profile guests started landing. Upon the guests’ arrivals, though, chauffeurs apparently tucked them into luxury sedans and whisked them to the celebrations.
There, all of the wedding guests reportedly had access to an app, through which they could map out the pre-wedding activities. Amazingly, along with dancing and feasting, attendees had the chance to sing along with none other than Beyoncé, who put on a private concert, singing hits such as “Crazy In Love” and “Perfect.”
But these events, however extravagant, merely marked the kick-off of the wedding events. And after a weekend of revelry in Udaipur, everyone then returned to Mumbai, where Isha and Piramal would say “I do” at her family’s home, the 27-story skyscraper in the middle of the city. Antilia was decked out even further for the occasion too.
According to the Hindustan Times, in fact, onlookers nowhere near the wedding could even see some of the decorations bedecking the skyscraper. The building actually glowed through the night after it had been wrapped in twinkle lights. “[It] is a sight to behold,” the newspaper reported. Dangling string lights also draped the streets leading up to the tower, a romantic drive-in for guests attending the ceremony.
On top of that, flowers blossomed at the roadside, and the family added trees along the paths as well. Marigold-covered bells in orange and yellow also dangled across the road from Antilia. The Ambanis even created a special entryway to the skyscraper for the wedding, which, of course, they adorned with blooms too.
The bride’s dress also took things to another level. That’s because the custom gold Lehenga came from the minds of Maison Valentino. And according to the design house’s Instagram, it was at the time the only Lehenga that Valentino had ever created. It came complete with the intricate beading and detailing saved for special occasions such as weddings.
After her wedding, Isha spoke to Vogue India and admitted that the spectacle had far exceeded her expectations. “I was never someone who dreamt of how my wedding would be, yet it was wonderful in more ways than I can imagine. It was a very emotional affair for everyone in my family,” she said.
But for the Ambani clan, it seems, it was just another luxurious display of the family’s love for one another. From their billion-dollar shared home and their private plane to their lavish parties with all of their famous friends, they lead lives that are almost impossible to comprehend. But with their son Akash reportedly preparing for a wedding of his own in March 2019, they’re sure to continue splashing out in a big way.