This light eyed Ms. World is 41, but looks as stunning as the day she made her debut in Iruvar. Topping the charts as one of the most stunning Indian faces on the big screen, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has managed to deliver hits in every language she has worked in; Tamil (Ravanan, Enthiran), Telugu (Robot, dubbed version), English (Bride and Prejudice), Bengali (Chokher Bali) and Hindi (Dhoom 2, Guru to name a few). Accolades continue to pour in for the Padma Shri awardee. While Julia Roberts calls her, “the most beautiful woman in the world”, Will Smith waxes eloquent, “She’s the mold that God made the first woman from.”
We’ve kept our eyes on her, watching her growth with delight and Nykaa is proud to say, Aishwarya tops our list of all time favorites. Her look is always classy and elegant.
She once dreamt of being an architect, but destiny had other plans. After a brief modeling stint Aishwarya participated in the 1994 Miss India pageant. She stood second, narrowly losing the crown to Sushmita Sen. She went on to represent India at the Miss World pageant in 1994, winning the crown against stiff competition from 86 other gorgeous contestants. She also won the Miss Photogenic award during the pageant.
She continued to pursue a career as a model until she became an actress. Soon after, she got her first big break in the Tamil film, Iruvar, directed by Mani Ratnam. Her first Hindi movie was Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya opposite Bobby Deol but even though Ash went on win the Screen Award for the Most Promising Newcomer (Female), she couldn’t save the movie from being a box office disaster.
After the mediocre Aa Ab Laut Chalein (1999), directed by Rishi Kapoor, Ash delivered a breakthrough performance in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), going on to bag the Filmfare Best Actress Award for her stupendous performance.
Ash's talent for dance secured her the lead role in Subhash Ghai's blockbuster Taal (1999). She was nominated for the Filmfare Best ctress Award for her performance in the movie. In 2000 she starred in two movies with Shah Rukh Khan. In ;Josh, she played his twin sister while in Mohabbatein she played his sweetheart. Both films were blockbusters at the box office. Ash also featured opposite her now husband, Abhishek Bachchan, for the first time in Dhaai Akshar Prem Ke.
After the success of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Sanjay Leela Bhansali cast Aishwarya as Paro in his magnum opus Devdas, in which she was once again paired opposite Shah Rukh Khan. The film swept the box office; in the words of Beyoncé, “I loved Devdas, Aishwarya was amazing! I cried towards the end of the film.” It swept all the major awards and Ash went on to win the Filmfare Award for Best Actress, Star Screen Award and IIFA.
After Mohabbatein and Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin, Ash teamed up with future father-in-law, Amitabh Bachchan, again in Khakee (2004). Ash delivered one of her most acclaimed performances in the Rituparno Ghosh-directed Raincoat (2004), an adaptation of the short story ‘The Gift of the Magi' by O Henry. Even though the film was a commercial flop, it was a critical gem.
British film director Gurinder Chadha gave Jane Austen's classic ‘Pride and Prejudice' a desi twist in Bride and Prejudice ;that released in 2004. Aishwarya played the novel's protagonist Lalita, a Punjabi version of the fiesty Elizabeth Bennet, adding her own charm to the role. In 2006, Ash starred opposite Hollywood actor Dylan McDermott in The Mistress Of Spices, the film adaptation of Chitra Divakaruni Banerjee's novel once again directed by Chadha.
In JP Dutta's remake of Umrao Jaan (2006), Ash was once again paired with her future husband, Abhishek Bachchan. She had the difficult task of recreating the role of a 19th century Lucknow courtesan, which had won actress Rekha a National Award in 1981.Sadly, Ash and Abhi's sizzling chemistry could not repeat the magic of Muzaffar Ali's 1981 version. However, Aishwarya looked achingly beautiful and the movie marked the beginning of Ash's real life love story with Abhishek.
Also in 2006, action heist film Dhoom 2, saw Ash shed not only her demure, girl-next-door, perpetually-in-love image, but also her clothes! She completely reinvented herself with in this sequel to the 2004 movie Dhoom. Paired opposite Hrithik Roshan in the role of a sexy thief turned police accomplice, Ash worked hard to show off a toned bod that became the talk of the town.
Ash's next film Guru, which also starred Abhishek Bachchan, marked the turning point in her life. At the premiere of the movie in Canada, Abhishek popped the big question and Ash said yes! The loved up couple were married on April 20, 2007 in an elaborate ceremony attended by country’s who’s who.
Marriage didn’t stop Aishwarya from continuing to act. The actress delivered a commendable performance in Ashutosh Gowarikar's magnum opus Jodhaa Akbar (2008), where she played Rajput queen Jodhaabai opposite Hrithik Roshan's Emperor Akbar. While the movie generated some controversy for its depiction of Jodhaabai and Akbar's relationship, it went on to become a huge hit. Once again, her chemistry with Hrithik had hit the mark.
In the 2009 movie The Pink Panther 2, Ash played the role of a criminology expert, Sonia Solandres, opposite everybody's favorite funnyman, Steve Martin. She was the film's main villain and prominent eye-candy, holding her own against the Hollywood A-listers.
Ash's bilingual portrayal of the reinvented role of Sita in Mani Ratnam's Raavan and Raavanan in 2010 met entirely different fates. Raavanan was a huge hit down South and the actress saw that as a potential ready to be tapped. Another Southern super hit followed, this time opposite the redoubtable Rajinikanth, in Enthiran (2010). The dubbed Hindi version, Robot, was also a super hit.
Ash was once again paired opposite Hrithik Roshan in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Guzaarish in 2010. She played Hrithik's Florence Nightingale and reaped rewards for her sensitive but strong portrayal. Her kinda Freeda Carlo look was a super hit and gave braids a whole new dimension!
Aishwarya, who has attended the Cannes Film Festival as the face of L'Oreal Paris since 2002, announced the launch of her next film, Madhur Bhandarkar's Heroine, in 2011 on the French Riviera. Unfortunately for the film—and avid moviegoers—Ash opted out to have a baby and enjoy a long sabbatical. We applaud the enthusiasm with which she embraced motherhood, post pregnancy fat and all, thoroughly enjoying her baby. The new mum made her first major public appearance after her pregnancy break at Cannes in May 2012. Already under public scrutiny for not having miraculously shed the extra pounds, she had a mixed bag of fashion hits and misses at the Cannes. Her final red carpet appearance in a grey Elie Saab, accessorized with a huge smile and a carefree wave of her hand—unmindful of the fact that the dress clung to every plus sized curve—was a fashion high and a thumbs down for the fat shaming paparazzi .
Her body shaming critics were stunned into silence at Amitabh Bachchan's 70th birthday bash where the svelte and sexy stunner posed happily with hubby Abhishek looking even more gorgeous than before. Since then, she’s made countless public appearances. In 2013, Ash unveiled the new Filmfare trophy, featuring a gold base, to commemorate 100 years of Indian cinema. Her visits to Cannes have become the stuff of legends and we now wait impatiently for her comeback film to hit the theatres. Full marks to this incredible woman who plays all her roles—daughter, wife, mother and actress par excellence—with consummate grace and beauty.
Last but not the least she recently managed to blow us out of our senses on the cover of Vogue. That’s when I said, “She came, She conquered , She rested…Now Ash Is Back !”
By makeup artist Arshis Javeri (www.arshisjaveri.com)