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'Aishwarya took her Miss World image very seriously'

Last updated on: November 01, 2023 10:18 IST
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'There was one sequence in Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya where her character exuberantly runs up to Bobby Deol, piggy-backs on him.'
'Aishwarya told me she couldn't do the sequence because people would not expect such behaviour from a former Miss World.'

IMAGE: Aishwarya Rai in Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya.

In 2024, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan will complete three decades in show business.

Three years after she won the Miss World crown in 1994, the brandy-eyed beauty debuted on screen with Mani Ratnam's political drama, Iruvar, in which she played a double role, Pushpavalli and Kalpana, opposite Mohanlal.

The same year, she debuted in Hindi cinema with Rahul Rawail's Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya in which she played a girl with two suitors, one of whom she has fallen in love with, and another with whom her family wants to fix a match.

As the actress turns 50 on November 1, Rahul Rawail tells Senior Contributor Roshmila Bhattacharya, "I knew she would have a long innings because she was so quick on the uptake."


'I believe a good conversationalist makes for a good actor'

IMAGE: Aishwarya Rai and Bobby Deol in Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya.

The primary reason for casting Aishwarya as the leading lady of our 1997 romantic drama, Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya, was because she had bagged the coveted title of Miss World in 1994.

When I met her at my place, she came across as a warm person. Even though she had never faced a movie camera before, once I spoke to her, I sensed that she would be a good actor.

She speaks really well and I have always believed that a good coversationalist makes for a good actor.

Once we started shooting, I was happy to see that she was coming across really well, except that she had yet to get over her Miss World hang-up.

Even when she walked, it seemed like she was sashaying down the ramp, but I guess, these were qualities which had been ingrained in her.

She took her Miss World image very seriously.

I remember there was one particular sequence in Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya, which we shot at Singapore airport, where her character Arshi exuberantly runs up to Bobby, who she's in love with, and embracing him from behind, literally piggy-backs on him.

Aishwarya told me she couldn't do the sequence because people would not expect such behaviour from a former Miss World.

That apart, she was a competent actress and a sweet, friendly girl on the sets.

'I liked her particularly in Ponniyin Selvan 1 and its sequel'

IMAGE: Sunny Deol, Aishwarya Rai and Bobby Deol in Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya.

What sets Aishwarya apart is that she's beautiful!

And as an actor, she tries and lives her character.

In our film, she empathised completely with the free-spirited Ashi.

She's a very good dancer, but still, the late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's Dhoondh raha hai aisa deewana, thoda sa pagla, thoda siyaana was a difficult song to carry off because it was set at a brisk pace and the tempo was hard to maintain.

In fact, our choreographer, Farah Khan, had tailored the movements to make Aishwarya comfortable and we were impressed with how effortlessly and gracefully she performed.

It's been almost 30 years sinceAur Pyaar Ho Gaya released and as a model, she is still as graceful when she walks down the ramp, like at the recent Paris Fashion Week.

As an actress, Aishwarya comes across stronger in Mani's (Ratnam) films as compared to others.

I liked her particularly in Ponniyin Selvan 1 and its sequel.

What stands out was her reading of the characters of Nandini and Mandakini Devi.

Of course, with a person like Mani behind the film, it makes a big difference.

In commercial Bollywood, I loved her introduction in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.

Again, that was Sanjay (Leela Bhansali) who's so good behind the scenes, but full credit to Aishwarya for delivering the vision of her directors.

'Even back in 1997, I knew she would have a long innings'

IMAGE: Aishwarya Rai and Vikram in Ponniyin Selvan 2.

She has done a few international projects too but despite Gurinder Chadha's Bride and Prejudice, her husband Paul Mayeda Berges' The Mistress of Spices, Jag Mundhra's Provoked or even a big-ticket franchise like Pink Panther 2, I don't really see her as a global film star. I think she is known globally for being a former Miss World.

I never went back to her with another project, for no particular reason really, but even back in 1997, I knew she would have a long innings because she was quick on the uptake.

Sushmita Sen, who was crowned Miss Universe in the same year that Aishwarya won the Miss World title, also entered the film industry around that time and I thought she had a lot of potential that could have catapulted her right to the top.

But Sushmita made some wrong choices while Aishwarya selected the right films, which is why she has stayed around for so long.

Today, I want to see her playing more mature characters, like the ones she has played in Mani's films.

That's what will help her continue her rule over this wonder world.

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