NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The capital is set to get a taste of F1 glitz and glamour this weekend as India hosts its first Formula One Grand Prix, with parties and events featuring global A-listers organised in New Delhi.
Topping the bill is pop star Lady Gaga, performing at an invitation-only show in a five-star hotel club after the race on Sunday.
The “Born This Way” singer, who appeared as her male alter ego during MTV’s Video Music Awards in August, will perform for the first time in India in front of guests invited by the club co-owner and Bollywood actor Arjun Rampal.
Earlier this year, in an interview with chat show host Simi Garewal, Lady Gaga said she would like to soak up the local culture by taking an Indian cooking class.
Also making their debut in India is heavy metal band Metallica as part of F1 Rocks, which adds an extra dash of glamour by inviting top bands to perform at some of the races.
The cheapest ticket to attend the inaugural Indian Grand Prix at the new Buddh International Circuit is 2,500 rupees (about $50). That is a bit expensive for most Indians, but affordable for the country’s growing middle class and its expanding disposal incomes.
But for the after-parties that are open to all, including one that will feature a DJ set by British eighties star Boy George, locals will have to fork out at least 15,000 rupees (around $300) -- a month’s salary in some Delhi households.
Bollywood stars like Shah Rukh Kahn and Hrithik Roshan are expected to be in attendance and could be joined by Hollywood big-wigs. Local media reports said Tom Cruise had been invited.
At the luxury 60-acre (25-ha) resort near the track where celebrities and F1 drivers like Michael Schumacher will be staying, last-minute preparations were being made to ensure quirky requests are met, including one from Formula One management headed by Bernie Ecclestone to have elephants available for guests to ride.
With around 100,000 fans set to pack the stands, the atmosphere should be electric at the $400 million circuit just outside Delhi.
“Formula One is finally coming to India,” said media worker Dalariti Nongpiur, 28, who paid 6,500 rupees for a ticket. “To actually hear that sound, to feel the heat of the track. I can’t believe that it’s actually going to happen and I‘m all excited about it.”
Fans are soaking up the buzz and local media has gone into overdrive this week with wall-to-wall F1 coverage.
“I‘m looking forward to seeing the whole thing, the extravaganza,” said Hasan Malik, 27, who is flying in from Mumbai to attend.
But not everyone is as enthusiastic and many of Delhi’s 16.8 million population are not even aware that the grand prix is taking place -- people such as Kamla, a maid and mother of four.
When asked about the event, she shrugged and said her focus was enjoying her days off for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, which was celebrated this Wednesday.
Reporting by Atish Patel, editing by Elaine lies and Ron Popeski