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Aishwarya Rai Biography
Aishwarya Rai

While the rest of the fickle filmi world was busy labelling her 'the ice maiden', Sanjay Leela Bhansali put all his faith in Miss Grey-Green eyes and cast her in the difficult part of Nandini for his dream project, 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam' (1999). He explained his choice thus: "Aishwarya Rai had fire in her eyes when I met her for the first time. She desperately wanted to prove herself after being written off as a non-actress".


A careful viewing of the now famous film puts the director's view into perspective. For, it was only after the release of 'HDDCS' last year, that Aishwarya was first applauded and discussed purely for her acting abilities. The other reason for making news, of course, was her alleged relationship with co-star Salman Khan. The rumour mills are still churning out fresh data on the famous couple, but no one is ready to confirm marriage plans etc.

Besides, Aishwarya is too busy handling her newfound status as one of India's most sought-after heroines and this hardly seems the right time for matrimony. Particularly in view of the fact that the gutsy lady has had a long wait and a hard struggle for the pride of place she now enjoys. And contrary to popular belief, the going has never been easy for the angelic beauty whose first brush with fame happened over half a decade ago. Then, she was 'sexy Sanju' who left Aamir Khan speechless in a Pepsi ad. Soon after, she chucked her education and a prospective career in architecture after being crowned Miss India runner-up, and subsequently, Miss World. The revered title brought in its wake a steady stream of offers from directors like Yash Chopra and Rajiv Rai, who had been wooing her even before the world claimed her.

There are no theories on what changed her mind, but Aishwarya finally took the plunge close on the heels of Sushmita Sen, who had already received a warm welcome with 'Dastak (1996). Perhaps it was the lure of working with Mani Rathnam, or then the challenge of a double role. But woman who embodied every man's fantasy, finally deemed it fit to grace the silver screen with her presence in the Tamil film, 'Iruvar' (1996). Inspired by the life of film star-turned-politician M G Ramachandran, Rai's reel-life portrayal of the AIADMK chief Jayalalitha failed to translate into box-office glory.

Unfortunately, her Hindi debut, 'Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya' (1997) was equally disastrous. It was promptly written off by critics and audiences alike, and so was Aishwarya. But offers kept pouring in, even in the wake of 'Jeans' (1998), which did well in South Indian, but was a complete washout in its Hindi version. Such failures, coupled with Aishwarya's drastic errors in judgement did nothing for her. Refusing offers like Sooraj Barjatya's 'Hum Saath Saath Hain' (1999) (for lack of dates) and Rani Mukherjee's role in 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' (1998), seemed to be part of destiny's grand plan working against her.

Along came 'star maker', Subhash Ghai with the offer of 'Taal' (1999), which Ash jumped at. Apart from the usual hype surrounding all Ghai films, there was also the controversy over Mahima Choudhary's fallout with her godfather, facilitating Aishwarya's inclusion. But no one had reason to complain after the film was released, as the determined actress shut up her worst critics with another inspired performance. What's more she proved herself a dancer of utmost grace and poise. As Ghai himself put it before the release of 'Taal': "For years we have had no actress who can dance like Vyjayanthimala, Sridevi or Madhuri. Now… you will see the difference between Aishwarya and all the other actresses around. She is just superb."

Coming as they did, on the back of her nondescript record (barring the moderate success of Rishi Kapoor's 'Aa Ab Laut Chalein' (1999)), 'HDDCS' and 'Taal' perhaps marked the beginning of a statuesque ice-maiden's transformation into an entrancing screen goddess.

Now, with 'Josh' ready to hit screens next week, much is being expected of Ash (who plays Shah Rukh Khan's twin), as it holds enough potential to take her career to even greater heights.





Biographies:  Aishwarya Rai |  Ajay Devgan  |  Akshay Kumar  |  Akshay Khanna |  Kajol  |  Karishma Kapoor |  Manisha Koirala |  Pooja Bhatt

Preity Zinta  |  Rani Mukherjee  |  Salman Khan |  Shahrukh Khan

 

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