I'll forever be a Mumbai girl: Aishwarya Rai
Even as the world and Hollywood beckons her, Bollywood queen Aishwarya Rai has said she has her focus firmly set on Hindi filmdom.
"Actors are like gypsies, they are nomads. They might have to move all over the world, wherever their work takes them," said Rai at a news conference here.
She is in the Indian capital to promote her latest film "Bride and Prejudice".
"I'm no bird that can keep migrating from one place to another. I am a Mumbai girl and will always remain so," smiled the gorgeous star, often called the most beautiful woman in the world, passing a diamond-bedecked finger through a lock of hair.
Directed by the British-Indian director Gurinder Chadha of the "Bend It Like Beckham" fame, "Bride..." is an adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel Pride and Prejudice.
In the film, Rai plays the lead character Lalita Bakshi (Elizabeth Bennet in the book) from Amritsar in Punjab.
Next she would star in "Chaos", playing a sex worker opposite Meryl Streep and "Singularity" with Brandon Fraser. She is also playing the lead in "Mistress of Spices", the directorial debut of Chadha's husband and scriptwriter Paul Mayeda Berges.
"Mistress of Spices" is based on a novel by the same name by Indian author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
"When I did 'Iruvar' with Mani Ratnam, no one asked me if I was shifting to southern India. When I did 'Choker Bali', no one asked if I was switching to Bengali films," said Rai, in a cream silk sari and a backless noodle-strapped blouse.
After winning the Miss World title in 1994, Rai entered Bollywood and acted in hit films like "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" and "Devdas".
At 31, she has been the first Indian actor to be part of the Cannes jury and has also featured on the cover of Time Magazine.
Described by Time as Queen of Bollywood, she now has her wax model at Madame Tussaud's in London.
Speaking about her first experience with acting in English, she said: "One has to be really natural in English acting. It is so different from acting in Hindi. I can speak English well, but that did not make the experience any easier."
According to Rai, it was a prior-to-shooting workshop conducted by Gurinder Chadha that had helped her gauge the whole atmosphere.
"The whole setting was very different, since we had people from the US, India and Britain in one film," said Chadha. "We all had to learn from each other, adapt with each other and finally be one with each in the film."
Even the songs, with Javed Akhtar penning the Hindi lyrics, and the English version written by his son and daughter Farhan and Zoya, are a medley of different kinds of music.
While the opening song "Balle Balle" is a typically Punjabi wedding number, "No Life without Wife" is a take on a song from the English classic film "Grease", and "Take Me To Love" with soft romantic lyrics, is a true blue English song.
"The film is a platform for a whole new Western audience to enjoy Hindi films, and for Indians to rediscover the value of classics," said Chadha.