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Ash magic too much for Cannes

The doe-eyed beauty has become bigger than her films and Bollywood itself, writes Saibal Chatterjee.

india Updated: May 26, 2006 10:55 IST

The only time Aishwarya Rai has had a film in the official selection of the Cannes Film Festival was in 2002 when Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas was accorded a special red carpet screening.

Since then the doe-eyed Indian beauty has become bigger than the film and Bollywood itself.

Aishwarya isn't just India's most visible face on the Croisette, she is literally everywhere in the form of neon-lit portraits and hoardings -- down the boulevard, in the movie halls, in the shopping areas and in every little pamphlet pertaining to the festival.

It is abundantly clear: Cannes loves Aishwarya Rai. But then it loves Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson, Eva Longoria, Andie MacDowell, Gong Li and Michelle Yeoh just as much.

All these beautiful ladies, representing the five continents, are brand ambassadresses of L'Oreal Paris, which has been the official partner of the Cannes Film Festival without a break for nearly a decade now.

L'Oreal sponsors the opening and closing ceremonies of the festival, which explains why Aishwarya never fails to put in an appearance when the whole wide world's entertainment press is at hand to record the red carpet walk for posterity.

It has nothing whatever to do with Indian cinema.