The world gapes as India’s richest businessman, Mukesh Ambani, prepares to move into Antilia, his newly built home. The structure has raised several eyebrows – not because it cost a billion dollars to build, not because you have to raise your eyebrows anyway when you squint up a 27-story building, but because the building sets a new benchmark for sheer aneurysm-inducing ugliness. Haughty architecture critic Michiko Santinelli labeled it a “Grade 8 visual catastrophe” adding, “on a scale of 1 to 5.”
Few know that the building’s design was unwittingly conceived by Mr Ambani himself during a visit to German architect Eric Bauhauser’s office. According to the lore, Mr Ambani’s gaze fell on some books that Bauhauser had been reading as he scrambled to finalize Ambani’s ambitious project. “That’s exactly what I want!” said Mr Ambani, mistaking the haphazard pile of books for a model of the building. In a flash, he had intuited the functional elegance of the cantilever construction, which enables you to encroach on your neighbour’s compound on the higher floors.
The soaring tower has elicited the predictable taunt of “phallic symbol” and “compensation.” Steering away from such banal pop-psychology, prominent psychoanalyst Sudhir Nandy chose to praise the building for its ability to encapsulate the meaning of a whole city: “As everybody knows, the urban sprawl of Mumbai is like a porn movie. It is compellingly filthy, it develops without script or narrative, and it is chock-full of bad actors who seem vaguely puzzled about whatever it is they’re doing. And then suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, comes Antilia. It’s the money shot. It makes you realize the whole point of the movie.”
Burning equally with moral outrage and raw envy, the city’s intelligentsia has mostly frowned on Mr Ambani’s audacious act of conspicuous consumption. In a stunning twist, however, revolutionary poet Mr Vava Rao has showered praise on the monument. “Few people know this, but Mukesh is a closet Naxal. He’s actually Comrade Ambani Rayulu from Khammam district. He has built this superstructure solely to instigate a class war by shattering the ideological slumber of the slum-dwellers. Filled with rage, they will seize control of the city and occupy its gaudy palaces. If you give squat, you will get squat. It’s a hysterical inevitability.”
Vaastu expert Benami Buildingwalla has expressed strong reservations about the structure: “Let us not forget that Mr Ambani recently gifted Mrs Ambani a high speed aeroplane. Now he has built a very tall building. As per Vaastu, this is not a good combination.”
Insiders confirm that even amidst all the opulence, Mr Ambani will remain true to his middle-class origins. For example, he has no plans to take the cellophane wrapping off the expensive furniture.