In her 15-year Bollywood career, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has given the industry some of its most celebrated films. Shutting up critics who said ‘models can’t act’, Ash, a former model and Miss World, gave some memorable films like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), Taal (1999), Devdas (2002), Dhoom 2 (2006) and Jodha Akbar (2008) that brought her awards and honours, not only in India, but internationally too. This, even as some critics continued to say it was her looks and not so much her acting that won her praises.
The actor forayed into Bollywood with Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya in 1997, following a Tamil film, Iruvar. However, she tasted success only in 1999. “Aishwarya’s career graph is tremendous. She does not come from a filmy background, yet she has given applaudable performances like Guzaarish (2010),” says Trade analyst Taran Adarsh.
The 38-year-old has had the chance of working with almost all top filmmakers and actors in the industry.
Her career suffered a setback between 2003 and 2006, with the failure of films such as Kuch Na Kaho, Shabd and Dil Ka Rishta, regaining her status with Dhoom 2 in 2006 and Guru in 2007. She’s also known for roles in offbeat films like Chokher Bali (2003). Ash has done successful international projects like Bride & Prejudice (2004) and Provoked (2007). While Mistress Of Spices (2005) and The Last Legion (2007) flopped, The Pink Panther 2 (2009) did moderate business.
Her sense of style back then was very youthful “She was very versatile,” says designer Ritu Kumar.
Her choice of outfits at Cannes came under heavy criticism, with many blaming her stylist for not showing her sunniest side.
Getting it Right
Ash got it right, as her red carpet appearance was hailed by critics, and this outfit declared ‘fresh and flirty’.
After her wedding, she turned demure with her style of clothes, opting mainly for elegant saris and salwar kameez.
Following her delivery, the actor put on a lot of weight, which sparked off a debate.
She is now shedding all the mommy fat, as the industry buzzes that she is gearing for a comeback
Aishwarya’s personal life was plagued with much controversy, right from the time she started seeing actor Salman Khan, who she met on the sets of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999). Ash called it quits in 2001 and said in an interview that the actor was harassing her. Alleging “indignity” and “infidelity”, Ash said in a statement: “For the sake of my well-being, my sanity, my dignity and self-respect of my family, I will not work with Salman Khan.” Ash was then in a three-year relationship with Vivek Oberoi, during their Kyun Ho Gaya Na days. There were many speculated reasons for the split, ranging from Ash’s family not liking Vivek’s public acknowledgment of love on TV, to buzz that it was because Vivek was not doing well. Ash then started seeing Abhishek Bachchan while they were shooting for Dhoom 2 in 2005 and, married him in 2007. They have a 10-month-old daughter, Aaradhya.
The Pink Panther 2
The actor portrayed a negative role in the film and had substantial screen time unlike what Bollywood actors get in Hollywood flicks
Aishwarya bagged the Best Actress Award for her depiction of Paro in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s adaptation of Devdas (2002)
Aishwarya’s sexy avatar in the film was much talked about, and her performance earned her a Best Actress nomination
She started endorsing brands as a model much before the Miss India contest in 1994. Among her first endorsements were brands such as Lakme and Titan, when she was just 16.
Her first big break was in the Pepsi ad with Aamir Khan, where she played the green-eyed ‘Sanju’
Her first international brand endorsement came with Longines, a decade long association now. Other ambassadors of the brand include Hollywood divas such as Kate Winslet. The same year, she also started endorsing Lux
L'Oréal signed her as its new international brand ambassador.
She started endorsing Coca-Cola and Nakshatra. She is the only female actor to have endorsed both Pepsi and Coca-Cola.
CelebTrack, the world's largest research on celebs and their brand value, declared her the number one female actor in India
Her latest endorsement, in 2012, comes with Kalyan Jewellers for which she is reportedly being paid Rs. 10cr.
She also continues to endorse L’Oreal, Longines and Lux.
“What has been consistent for Brand Aishwarya are a few unique values that have always been integral to her ... it comes across as a strategic brand, a brand honed carefully. It is here to stay, for many more years, and does not seem likely to fall victim to the “shelf-life” relevant for many other leading ladies of Indian cinema. Her platter reflects a wise selection, a mix of mass and luxury, but always classy, never frivolous or casual,” says Anujita Jain of Alchemist Talent Solutions, a brand management firm.
Women in the industry have been exploited very often, but there are some actors who believe that the short cut to stardom is through nudity.
No one wants to believe me, that I fell down the stairs. First they call me a woman of substance ... how can they now make me look like such a doormat? (on Salman beating her).
Life will take its toll on all of us. We get injured, we get old ... Looks are not everything. I am not going to look beautiful all the time.
November 1, 1973, Mangalore, Karnataka
Arya Vidya Mandir
High School, Mumbai, studied architecture at Raheja college
Father: Krishnaraj, Marine Biologist
Mother: Vrinda, homemaker
Brother: Aditya, Engineer
Appeared twice on Oprah Winfrey’s show, on Late show with David Letterman and the Tyra Banks show. A regular at the Cannes film Festival, first Bollywood actress to have a wax statue at Madame Tussauds, London. Made it to covers of international magazines and lists of most beautiful and influential people.
She is neither on Facebook nor Twitter. She has 17,000 websites dedicated to her.