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Femme fatale

Is Abhishek Bachchan?s romantic link with Aishwarya Rai good for his career? HT Style analyses.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2006 03:53 IST

It’s very demeaning to talk about women in this manner. I share a good rapport with my female co-actors and most of them are friends. I hate it when people ask me about these rumours (link-ups).” This is Abhishek Bachchan’s reply every time there’s a buzz about him seeing someone. Not surprisingly, it will remain the same if one asks the Bluffmaster star about reports of his involvement with Aishwarya Rai.

The last time Bachchan was said to be in a relationship was with model Dipannita Sharma. But a close friend had commented, “Abhishek is a single and very eligible guy. What’s wrong if he’s dating?” After the reports of this break-up, silence prevailed for a while. With his career going great guns, AB junior is the hottest young star today. His apparent single status adds to his charm.

Till recently, the grapevine was buzzing that Bachchan was seeing Rani Mukerji. And with the kind of chemistry the two share on screen, it is not hard to believe. But that was until he joined JP Dutta’s unit of Umrao Jaan, where he was reunited with Aishwarya Rai, the heroine of his films Dhaai Akshar Prem Ke and Kuch Na Kaho.

Her appearance at his birthday party in Jaipur got tongues wagging even more furiously, though both parties have kept quiet.

But industry watchers are sceptical, for two main reasons. One, being linked with someone just when his star is on the ascendant might affect Abhishek’s stock. Two, Ash’s track record vis-a-vis boyfriends and their box office fate tells its own story.

Ash and Abhishek might just be the new jodi to watch out for. They have Umrao Jaan and Dhoom 2 coming up.

A producer, who wished to remain anonymous, says, “These days, it’s impossible to expect on-screen chemistry from a couple who’s seeing each other. John and Bipasha got involved only during the making of Jism, but failed with Aetbaar and Madhoshi. Kareena shared better chemistry with Fardeen than Shahid in Fida. Viveik and Aishwarya in Kyun! Ho Gaya Na… were too cold a pair for words.” Bachchan junior, for his part, has had well on-screen chemistry with Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Rani Mukerji.

Which leads to the question, will Rai influence Abhishek screen pairing (the Rani-Ash clash has been fodder for film magazines)? And will her strained relations with certain producers affect Abhishek? Trade analyst Vinod Mirani feels that “Abhishek Bachchan is too dignified to interfere in casting.”

Sonali Jaffar, editor of Stardust, adds, “Their relationship doesn’t affect their popularity at all. In fact, people would like to see the two of them together. Abhishek himself knew that she suits him perfectly.” About Rai, she says, “Even Aishwarya knows that he suits her fine. Abhishek has been smart enough to not say anything, but with daily reports of their involvement, no one would think otherwise.”

Jaffar dismisses the notion that Rai would influence Bachchan against working with actresses she doesn’t get along with. “Aishwarya has been in this profession long enough to know that stars don’t always let their personal lives dictate their professional lives. It helps that the Bachchans (Amitabh and Jaya) approve of Aishwarya and are fond of her. It’s a fact that she went for the premiere of Black at Amitabh Bachchan’s insistence despite her own movie Shabd premiering the same night.”

A leading actor, on condition of anonymity, points out, “There seems to be a pattern in Aishwarya Rai’s relationships. She got involved with Salman Khan when he was at the peak of his career. She started seeing Viveik Oberoi when his career was on the upswing. And now that Abhishek is doing well, we hear that she’s seeing him.”