Coronated as one of the most beautiful women of the world, reigning queen of the modeling world as well as Bollywood – Aishwarya Rai Bachchan turns 39 today.
19, November 1994 seems like yesterday, when glued to the couch, we saw Miss Rai ever-so gracefully accept the well deserved Miss World Crown. From there on, there was no looking back for the radiant Manglorean beauty.
Aishwarya made her baby steps into the acting world, with Kollywood’s ‘Iruvar’. Her Bollywood debut though, turned out to be quite nondescript with films like ‘Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya’ and Tamil to Hindi dubbed ‘Jeans’.
But the actress did not give up.
It was in 1999, five years after having conquered the ‘most beautiful woman of the world’ tiara, that Aishwarya gave one of her best films to Bollywood cine-lovers all over the world.
For Aishwarya it all started with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’. Released in English as ‘Straight From The Heart’ and based on Maitreyi Devi’s Bengali work ‘Na Hanyate’, Rai played Nandini – a woman in love with a man she was forbidden to marry, and then forced into a caste and class appropriate marriage by her family. Aishwarya played the happy go lucky to heart broken Gujarat-Rajasthani girl with aplomb. What fans loved the most was the lovely, blooming chemistry between her co-star Salman Khan and herself.
Most Memorable Moment: When Nandini challenges Sameer to eat raw green chillies. An ethereal Aishwarya clad in exquisite green and blue bandhej lehenga choli, goes up to the ‘steaming’ Salman to offer him one spoonful of honey after the other. Salman keeps slapping her hand away, only to finally give in. What an ‘awwwww’ moment!
Happy with the acclaim, Aishwarya delivered her next ‘must watch’ movie within the same year! In Subhash Ghai’s ‘Taal’. Aishwarya plays the daughter of a spiritual singer – a very talented singer and dancer herself, as ‘Mansi’ she falls in love with Akshaye Khanna playing Manav. Of course, Indian families come in between and the couple is torn apart by class distinction.
Most Memorable Moment: While all the songs in this film touch your soul, and Aishwarya’s dancing from jazz to exotic Indian takes you to a whole different world…It is the scene in which Aishwarya breaks off the necklace Akshaye had gifted her (as a promise of undying love) when he abandons her, that stays back with you.
By now an established actress, Aishwarya came into the Big League. While she had already starred against superstar Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Josh’, it was in ‘Mohabbatein’ that their chemistry really hooked onto fans. Playing ‘Megha’ the daughter of Narayan Shankar played by real life father in law Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya was the love interest of Raj Aryan Malhotra played by SRK. When her father disallowed their love to bloom, Megha commits suicide.
Most Memorable Moment: Even though Aishwarya had a relatively small role in the star spangled film, it was an important one. She is the driving force of anger and love between the older and younger man. When Aishwarya stands at the railing of her balcony wearing her mother’s ‘mangalsutra’, the night her father tells her the loving Raj was not permitted – it creates a lump in your throat. The moment before she leaps, your breath is caught, and you hope against hope that Narayan Shankar would melt. For her role in this movie, Aishwarya was awarded the ‘Best Supporting Actress’.
In 2002, Aishwarya was once again paired with Shah Rukh Khan in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Devdas’. And once again, a hero oriented movie, Aishwarya managed to stand her own. Her coy ‘ish’, her beautiful kohl lined eyes, her ‘diya’ which must burn forever are imprinted into our memories.
Most Memorable Moment: The song ‘Silsila Yeh Chaahat Ka’ where Aishwarya nimbly dances around but safeguards her ‘diya’ which stands for her one and only love, Devdas.
In 2006, Aishwarya was paired against her husband to be Abhishek Bachchan in the remake of Rekha’s ‘Umrao Jaan’. A film that centered around her, Aishwarya truly did justice to the role of the famous courtesan.