For most leading ladies in tinsel town, their career takes a downfall after they touch 30. But certainly not in the case of Aishwarya Rai, who continues to flourish in Bollywood as she turns 37 Monday and has two mega projects – “Action Replayy” and “Guzaarish” – lined up for release.
The former beauty queen has come a long way from being crowned Miss World in 1994, to working in Tamil films, moving to Bollywood and finally topping it up with international fame through movie projects as well as attending prestigious foreign film festivals.
But all through her 13-year film career, filmmakers feel she has remained a director’s delight, and is here to stay for a long time to come.
“Aishwarya always followed me during the shooting of ‘Taal’, and is a complete director’s actor. I’m proud she has evolved so much as an actor. She is giving good performances, she has achieved international fame, and she is leading a happy married life – what else can she ask for from life? But she is as grounded as ever,” filmmaker Subhash Ghai said.
The director, who worked with Aishwarya in 1999, says the actress will “definitely be in Bollywood for another 10 years” and is looking forward to associating with her once again.
Ace filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who gave Aishwarya’s career a big push with “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam” followed by “Devdas”, says she is a timeless beauty.
“Aishwarya is my muse, my jaan and I get terribly excited when I make a film with her because she is very, very special. Some people are timeless and Aishwarya will be there for another 20 years,” said Bhansali, whose third project with the actress, “Guzaarish”, releases Nov 19.
Aishwarya, who married actor Abhishek Bachchan in 2007, has broken the notion that married actresses discontinue their film careers… and her husband is proud of her.
“I feel great about Aishwarya’s achievements, I’m very proud of her. Whatever adulation she has got, she truly deserves it. I’m happy that she broke the notion that women can’t work after marriage. Why are we so regressive in our thinking? If she wants to work, her audience wants to see her, what is people’s problem? I as a husband am very happy that she is doing so well. I think she is doing better work now,” Abhishek had said.
Aishwarya started acting in 1997 with Tamil film “Iruvar”, followed by her Bollywood debut in the same year opposite Bobby Deol in “Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya” – both of which flopped.
But the next year, she won her first Filmfare Best Actress award South for Tamil film “Jeans”. She also bagged the Filmfare Best Actress Award for Bhansali’s “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam”.
She gave a power-packed performance in “Taal”, but then delivered a string of duds like “Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai”(2000), “Dhai Akshar Prem Ke”(2000), “Albela” (2001), “Hum Kisise Kum Nahi”(2001).
But it was Bhansali’s “Devdas” that resurrected her career and fetched her another Filmfare award in the Best Actress category.
She also gave good performances in “Chokher Bali”(2002), “Raincoat” (2004), “Guru”(2006), “Dhoom 2″, “Provoked”(2007), “Jodhaa Akbar” (2008) and “Sarkar Raj” (2008). She recently featured in Mani Ratnam’s “Raavan” and opposite superstar Rajnikanth in “Robot”.
Some of her English projects include “Bride & Prejudice” (2003), “Mistress of Spices”, “The Last Legion” (2007) and “Pink Panther”.
According to a 2009 Forbes list, Aishwarya Rai is India’s most bankable star in Hollywood, and is also counted among the 100 most beautiful women in the world.
She has been attending many international film festivals and was also the first Indian actress to be on the jury of the Cannes Film Festival in 2003.
Now she is gearing up for the release of “Action Replayy” on Diwali and “Guzaarish”, and is busy promoting them. But she hopes to spend some time with her family as she steps into her new year.