Star of the week: Aishwarya Rai
Let them say what they like. The fact is Aishwarya Rai is here to stay. And if you have any doubts about that, the premiere of her crucial crossover film "Bride & Prejudice" in London should put them to rest.
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
It's the morning after the premiere of "Bride & Prejudice" in London. And this is what the glorious Gurinder Chadha has to say: "It was fantastic! So much of the British film industry was there... and the actors and directors I spoke to said they were blown away with such an innovative British film. Ash and Martin (Henderson) looked great all through the evening. We all partied till early hours. I even slept with all my makeup on, ha ha."
As for Ash, Chadha told IANS on phone from London: "It was truly marvellous to see Ash interact with the British. All the English crew from the shoot love her. Now the press truly loves her. They were very impressed by her intelligent answers about the film."
Rai was the belle, rather the balle balle of the ball. Warm, poised, friendly and entertaining, she had the British press eating out of the palm of her hand, and not just at the premiere in London (where director Gurinder Chadha was happy to let the dazzling Ash take centrestage) but also earlier during the week when her wax replica was unveiled at Madame Tussaud's.
To be put next to Amitabh Bachchan at Madame Tussaud's is no mean achievement for anyone, let alone a female actor from Bollywood. But, then, Ash is no walkover. Not even in the male-motivated movie world of Mumbai.
Indeed, Aishwarya Rai has come a long way. Her climb up the steep ladder of stardom has been focussed, determined and surprisingly free of compromises.
Let me put it bluntly. Aishwarya never plays up to any of her heroes. I've seen the kind of leeway leading ladies allow the Big Guys just to remain in their good books.
I've seen Salman Khan pushing a leading lady right in front of me in my hotel room in Mumbai. Shocked, I asked her how and why she allowed the sozzled Khan to take such liberties with her. She just giggled. Today she has been 'rewarded' with two plum assignments with the Khan.
But Aishwarya Rai doesn't believe in compromising with her conscience to remain successful.
She fought on matters of principle with the powerful Khan triumvirate. First, of course, there was Salman Khan whom she categorically told to get off while he was still ahead. Then there was a difference of opinion with Shah Rukh Khan, which cost her precious films with India's biggest superstar. Finally, she opted out of Ketan Mehta's "The Rising" with Aamir Khan while Rani Mukherjee and Amisha Patel hopped, skipped and jumped all around the Khan-driven project.
There are definitely issues larger than co-stars that occupy Aishwarya's mind. She's out to make a place for herself among the all-time greats. In her quest for the crest she's unstoppable.
Co-stars are definitely a problem for Aishwarya. But if not the Khans, why not Martin Hendersen?
And if not Bollywood, Hollywood here she comes.
Clearly, cynics can go climb up the nearest wall. Aishwarya Rai is going global for sure. As for the rest of Bollywood wannabes, well, may their ambitions rest in peace!
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