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With Ash, Indians in seventh heaven

Indians in Atlanta zealously tuned in to the tube to see where Ash well, figured, writes Meeta Chaitanya.

india Updated: Jan 12, 2006 19:31 IST
ATLANTA DIARY | Meeta Chaitanya
ATLANTA DIARY | Meeta Chaitanya

As the much-touted and keenly anticipated dazzler, E! TV's countdown of the 101 hottest celebrity bodies came to a close this past week, Indians in Atlanta and elsewhere in the States zealously tuned in to the tube to see where Ash well, figured.

Not surprisingly, she was ranked as the seventh hottest star in the world, following among six others Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie- the Smiths seem to make it together everywhere) in the elite ten.

To get there, she ousted and outdid celebrities like Giselle Bundchen, Jennifer Lopez, Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra, Eva Longoria, Cameron Diaz, Charlize Theron, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Simpson, Laetitia Casta, Tyra Banks, and Elizabeth Hurley -- to name a precious few.

Mind you, these are only some of the women ranked lower than her on the list. The countdown, which comprised both actors, sportsmen and women, had many more top contenders who were effortlessly 'listed' in the rudimentary echelons of the rota.

Even Shah Rukh Khan, reportedly the star with the biggest fan-base globally made a silent entry and exit at seventy something. But it was Aishwarya Rai's grand ingress into this delectable eye candy that sent tongues wagging and eyes rolling. If you haven't guessed already; the reaction to this 'news' and all the hoopla around it veered precariously from awe to hee-haw!

For entertainment purposes only -- that's what best describes this TV show -- which incidentally comes after a long line of predecessors -- all prefixed with 101 this, or 101 that. It was, of course a fun show that catered to the voyeur's fantasy more than the critic's palette.

The so-called list remained subjective even as it ranked stars; needless to say, every star named is better than the other, fan to fan. Ash's spot on the program featured her numerous pictures, a voiceover crowning her the most beautiful woman in the world and a perfunctory interview with choreographer Shiamak Davar who waxed eloquent about the actress' beauty.

In February 2005, MSN announced that Aishwarya was the most searched for actress on the Net. Beginning May 2003 (Comme au cinéma) she appeared in highly regarded and watched television programmes internationally; 60 Minutes- 2 January 2004, Late Show with David Letterman- 8 February 2005, Oprah Winfrey Show- 24 April 2005, are among them. While reactions to her giggly interface were varied, to the interviewers, like Oprah she appeared "gorgeous", even erudite.

Off the show, by 'filmi' accounts, Ash is all but shunned by the razzmatazz of Bombay's movie people; most of who are actually churning out hits unlike her duds, but her foray into international territory isn't entirely without merit. More than being the face of Cannes and L'Oreal ever so frequently, she is all set to scorch the global movie marquee as she lines up three films due for a 2006 Hollywood release. She would be the first Indian star to have achieved this.

In days to come, films like The Last Legion, Provoked, and Mistress of Spices will either establish her steadily in the Hollywood firmament or make her the sporadic but delightful Indian presence that peppers every once in a while- like Om Puri, Kabir Bedi, Nasseeruddin Shah.

Her opening act internationally, Bride and Prejudice disappeared without a whimper, unlike Gurinder Chadha’s other foray Bend it like Beckham but for every Parminder Nagra that vanishes, there is a Keira Knightley that emerges. And yes, Ash stole the show, literally, from this beauty too in the 101 countdown, leaving the latter far behind in the ranking.

And so, here she is, a comparatively scarcely-there actress from India, who let’s face it isn’t even hugely idolised in India like the glitzy Khan bandwagon and who has been lambasted very often by the press and critics as wooden in craft and crafty at PR, becoming the only recognizable Indian star both sides of the Atlantic. Seven may not be a bad number after all; the connotations- Brad Pitt and the seven wonders are all alright. So is Ash.

First Published: Jan 12, 2006 00:00 IST