Beauty and talent is a rare combination because good looks and sharp brains do not travel together – at least that is what the common adage is. Aishwarya Rai, however, is the exception to the rule. She has been called the most beautiful woman in the world, and yet, Time magazine counted her as among the 100 most influential people in the year 2003 and in 2010, she was studying to be an architect when she won the Miss World crown in the year 1994.
So how do we classify this very lovely lady who defies description? Who is she – just a gorgeous woman; an icy, touch-me-not lady; a non-conformist; or just a regular lady who is good at her job; or maybe she is all of this and much more.
A good actor
Aishwarya Rai’s first true brush with success came with her Miss World title. After that she joined Bollywood, but it was Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam which announced the arrival of a new star on the Bollywood firmament. Devdas and Jodhaa Akbar added to her laurels, but there were many duds in between also. Rajnikant chose her for his magnum opus Robot. Internationally, she acted in films such as Pink Panther, Bride & Prejudice and Provoked. In Guzaarish, she gave an understated yet superb performance as a nurse working with a paraplegic. Today she is the only Bollywood actress who is regularly being offered starring roles in Hollywood films, and she is also the highest paid actress in Mumbai.
Aishwarya Rai – A Brand Icon
She first modeled for an ad when she was 9 years old, and today she is the international face for Longines and L,Oreal, among other brands. Her face is not the typical Indian face which is why she is able to grab endorsements by international brands. And those extraordinary blue-green eyes are recognizable anywhere. We remember her first appearance as Sanjana in the Coke Ad, and today we are watching her flirting with her husband in the Lux Ad.
Aishwarya Rai – Non-conformist and Independent
Few people realize that behind that exquisitely etched face there lies a woman of steely resolve. Aishwarya Rai has not compromised on what she believed in. Her life is as private as she can make it despite the papparazzis. Her comments about Salman Khan after their much hyped up break-up were among the few times when she has publicly spoken about her co-stars. Her difference of opinion with Shah Rukh Khan cost her many good films, but she chose to accept it and moved ahead in her career.
She did not try to curry favours with the big production houses, she wanted to be accepted for her talent and not for her sycophancy. Legendary film producer Dino De Laurentis chose her for The Last Legion, and in Provoked she gave one of her finest performances as a battered wife. There is no other Bollywood star who has achieved even a modicum of international success which Aishwarya Rai has managed in her illustrious career.
Awards and Recognition won by Aishwarya Rai
At Cannes she has been a regular, not just as the L’Oreal brand ambassador but also as a Jury member. She has taken part in many charity events and has been the face for the Eye-bank of India and also for the Smile Train. Again all this is done by her without publicity and as a part of her daily life. If you notice and appreciate Aishwarya Rai while she is doing this, well and good, if not, she is not going to go out of her way to announce it to all and sundry. Oprah Winfrey featured her on her show twice, she has been on the Tyra Banks show, and Vogue has featured her on their cover three times.
Aishwarya Rai – The typical wife and daughter-in-law
When she got married into the Bachchan clan, the general consensus was that this union would not last too long, considering her breakups with Salman Khan and Vivek Oberoi. Yet once again, she surprised us all, and once again she proved that for her, her family mattered a great deal. She has proven to be a great daughter-in-law and has been the best support system her husband could ever hope for. In this role we saw glimpses of her warmth and her joy, and her ability to adapt herself to a new family with ease and comfort.
So how do we define Aishwarya Rai? She has let us into her private world only up to a certain degree. We really do not know what is going on in that smart brain of hers, but we have learnt to admire every role that she has played – either onscreen or off-screen. We have still not fathomed the depths of Aishwarya Rai’s talent or personality, but we enjoy looking at her, enjoy watching her films and enjoy watching her make a success of her personal life.