By Chaitanya Padukone
Riding on the crest of her success wave of her latest Pan-India blockbuster movie PS-1, gorgeous global-icon ‘ageless’ Aishwarya Rai Bachchan today, completes 49 years and has entered her golden jubilee 50th year. Even as she has completed 25 years (silver jubilee) as an actress.
‘Ageless’ Aishwarya! Because she looks so rejuvenated and still so stunning. As is known, the ravishing Rai started her acting career with the Tamil movie ‘Iruvar’ (1997) directed by iconic Mani Ratnam. Simultaneously, her first Hindi debut movie ‘Aur Pyar Ho Gaya’ was directed by Rahul Rawail also released in 1997. Career-wise versatile Aishwarya has come a full circle, That’s because after 25 years again, she has played the lead in blockbuster mega-hit Ponniyin Selvan :1 (2022) directed by the same illustrious Mani Ratnam. Of course, she has also been featured in movies like ‘Guru’ (2007) and Raavan (2010) directed by Ratnam. Interestingly, Aishwarya played a dual role in Iruvar, and this time once again in PS:1, she plays a dual role. And hold your breath, one of her screen characters in PS-1 is called “Nandini”. Which coincidentally was also the name of her award-winning lead character in ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999).
Way back in 1994, when Aishwarya had returned to Mumbai after winning her coveted Miss World crown, along with my buddy-star-actor Chunky Pandey, I met Aishwarya Rai in a palatial suite at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel at Colaba. Interestingly both Chunky and I had a fun-grilling media-interview (for Femina magazine) with the affable, zestful, and quick-witted Aishwarya. Both her doting-caring parents were with her all thru at the luxurious Taj Palace Hotel special suite.
During the informal chat with her, I clearly remember 21-year-old Aishwarya mentioning that “besides modeling, being cast the lead heroine in movies was among her priority career options”. She had not yet signed any movie during 1994. Later during that same conver-session, Chunky and I asked ‘Aish’ to share with us a hypothetical title option for a Hindi movie that she would love to be part of. Within a few seconds, wearing a smile, she suggested, “maybe a movie title like ‘Jadoo Meri Nazarr’ “, apparently keeping in mind, her own hypnotic light-eyes. Those days the romantic solo song ‘Jadoo Teri Nazar’ from the movie ‘Darr’ (1993) was a reigning chartbuster track.
Whenever after that I met modest Aishwarya at fashion events or other showbiz events, she was always courtesy-grace personified. In 1997 I reconnected with her for the release event of her debut movie ‘Aur Pyar Ho Gaya. And later again I attended the grand star-studded premiere of her movie ‘Jeans’ (1998) directed by Southside innovative showman S. Shankar, (of ‘Enthiran’ fame) at the Metro theatre (Mumbai). Even as I entered the large-lobby foyer of Metro theatre, I still remember how the unassuming heroine Aishwarya personally walked towards me to gracefully welcome me. She politely insisted that I should watch the entire movie and share my “honest feedback” with her, especially since had a dual character in ‘Jeans’.
Once, Aishwarya casually told me that she has a wonderful musical sense and loves to sing and hum. Several times she had felt the discreet urge to perhaps playback a song for herself. In fact, I remember Aishwarya informally saying that she “would have loved to try singing” the playback duet song ‘Apun Bola’ which is sung by Shah Rukh Khan in the movie ‘Josh’ (2000). The female track picturized on Aishwarya is sung by professional singer Hema Sardesai along with the King Khan.
We at Cine Blitz, wish the Bachchan parivaar’s exuberant, articulate Bahurani Aishwarya Rai Bachchan a super-delightful 49th birthday. May her career crown be always studded with dazzling gems of glorious achievements, all the way ahead.
(The writer Chaitanya Padukone, is an award-winning eminent senior film-journalist-author of memoirs book R D BurMania)