The ethereal beauty queen, Aishwariya Rai Bachchan, is all set to make a comeback in her real playing field through Sanjay Gupta’s film – Jazbaa. The actress will be seen on the silver screen after almost five years, but the audience’s zeal to see her perform hasn’t declined a notch. This in itself speaks wonders about the Superwoman of Bollywood. We take you through the illustrious journey from her Miss world crowning to her comeback after 4 years of blissful motherhood.
- Queen of Hearts –AIshwariya was a bright student and aced in zoology in college. She considered career in medicine as well as an architect but destiny had other plans for her. She picked up a few modeling assignments during her college years. She won an international supermodel contest organized by Ford and was featured in American edition of Vogue. In 1993 she did a Pepsi commercial with Aamir Khan and Mahima Chaudhary and gained instant recognition as ‘Sanjana’ from the Pepsi commercial. Since then there was no looking back. In 1994 she entered the Miss India pageant and was the crowned the first runner up. As the first runner up she represented India in the Miss World Pageant held in South Africa. She went on to win the crown and became the epitome of beauty in India.
- Every Filmmakers muse – In 1997 Aishwariya forayed into films with director Mani Ratnam’s Tamil hit movie ‘Iruvar’, but it wasn’t until ‘Jeans’ in 1998 that she proved her might. She was introduced to Bollywood in ‘Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya’, but it failed to generate success at the box office. Then, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam happened, and Aishwariya’s life changed professionally and personally. She won Filmfare best actress award for her luminous performance that critics felt filled the conflicted emotional shades in the film. At the same time, rumor mills were abuzz with her increased closeness to her co-star Salman Khan. The same year Ash demonstrated her worth in Subhash Ghai’s musical ‘Taal’ which also became a highest bollywood grosser internationally. Despite, brilliant initial take off, Ash struggled with her career, until Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas in 2002 which again got her a Filmfare and a lot of critical acclaims internationally. Ash although had her series of flop films including Josh(2000), Shabd (2005), Kuch Na Kaho(2003), Dhai Akshar Prem Ke(2000) etc, but that never deterred her from experimenting with her roles. As a result, Ash landed films like Jodha Akbar, Dhoom2 and Guru which have been declared as her career best performances. Ash was honored with Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award, in 2009.
- International Diva– Much before Priyanka Chopra went international with “In the City” and “Quantico”, Aishwariya was gracing international film festivals and popular television shows. She earned the stature of being the first Indian actress to be on the jury of the Cannes International Film Festival. Ash appeared on shows such as Latenight Show with David Letterman, Martha, Tyra Banks Show and was the first Bollywood personality to appear on Oprah’s “Women Across the Globe” segment. She was invited again with her husband on the Oprah Show and became only the first Indian to have appeared twice on the show. In 2004, she acquired international fame as she starred opposite Martin Henderson in the Gurinder Chadha’s film ‘Bride and Prejudice’, which was an Bollywood-adaptation of the famous Jane Austen novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’. The films was a commercial success grossing over 24 millions as opposed to it budget of 7 millions. Ash ensued her international cinema appearances as Tilo in Paul Mayeda Berges’s romantic fantasy film ‘The Mistress of Spices’; as a NRI Kiranjit Ahluwali(real life character) in Jag Mundhra’s Provoked; as Mira, an Indian warrior, in the movie The last Legion; and as Harald Zwart in Pink Panther 2, starring opposite likes of Steve Martin and Jean Reno. She put India on the map as glitzy, glamorous and artsy.
4) Humanitarian at Heart– AIshwariya, true to her ‘world peace’ speech after winning the Miss World crown remained largely engaged in humanitarian and charity work all throughout. She is the brand ambassador for The Eye Bank Association of India’s nationwide campaign to promote eye donation in India and had pledged to donate her eyes for the cause. In 2005 she became a brand ambassador for Pulse Polio, a campaign established by the Government of India in 1994 to eradicate polio in India. Along with other members of the Bachchan family, she laid the foundation of a special school for underprivileged girls in Daulatpur village in Uttar Pradesh. She was also appointed spokesperson for the International Year of Microcredit, for raising awareness on the United Nations’ poverty alleviation efforts. She is also the International Goodwill Ambassador for UNAIDS, the joint United Nations programme on AIDS and HIV.
5) A Protectoress of Personal – Aishwariya Rai was ferociously protective of her personal life. She refrained from divulging details of her life in public while she was dating Salman Khan and remained at a distance from the media when the Salman Khan and Vivek Oberoi’s (who she dated briefly) spat became public . She maintained her poise and dignity and concentrated on her career even when her personal life was in splits. In 2007, stories of a possible romance surfacing between Ash and her Guru co-star Abhishek Bachchan started doing rounds. They both made public appearance together only after the engagement was formalized by both the families. Despite the media hoolah-hu around the wedding Aishwariya and Abhishek family kept the media interaction to a minimum. The snippets covered by media of the wedding and post-wedding ceremonies were reflective of the tradition abiding Ash, which possibly made her the favorite ‘bahu’ of Bollywood as well as India. Ash continued to do films post-marriage as well which made her a hit amongst all career driven women. Ash-Abhi are currently the power-couple of Bollywood.
6) Motherhood is bliss– Just when we got comfortable with the idea of Ash as dutiful bahurani of Bachchan Khandan, the news of her pregnancy started doing rounds. Her pregnancy was announced on twitter on June 2011 by the Bachchan men and the media went in a tizzy. Her career took a backseat as she dropped her film ‘Heroine’ with Madhur Bhandarkar. The media coverage for the arrival of Baby B was probably the most hyped coverage of a pregnancy. Yet, Ash didn’t seem bothered. Being the private person she is, Ash cut short her public appearances. Infact, post the arrival of Baby B aka Aradhya Bachchan, ash didn’t give a public appearance for a complete year and dedicated herself to her top priority- her bundle of joy. She fiercely guarded her daughter from the prying lens of the media for as long as she could before finally appearing with her to receive a French honor for her work in cinema. Ashwas a victim of media flak for her post pregnancy weight gain but the actress seemed undeterred in her public appearances at Cannes and other important events giving new mommies a confidence to be comfortable in their own skin and enjoy motherhood without being judged.
7) Back to work– While Ash was making the most the new phase of her life, she didn’t completely give up on her career. She continues to be involved in public life through brand endorsements and social events. She also started reading scripts as Aradhya turned into a toddler. Now, after four years Ash is all set to return to silver screen with Jazbaa an action-drama to be released next week. She is also doing Dharma’s next production ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ which is to release later. Aishwariya with her balanced approach to her career as well as family has put a face to all the women out there who organize their life around family and work wonderfully.
A Superwoman indeed!