Hot Images Aishwarya Rai Biography
Aishwarya Rai (Tulu pronunciation [əjɕʋərjaː rəj]; born 1 November 1973), also known as Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is an Indian film actress and model. She won the Miss India and Miss World pageants of 1994, and has received two Filmfare Awards, two Screen Awards, and two IIFA Awards for her performances in Hindi films of Bollywood. She is a leading contemporary actress of Indian cinema and is often cited in the media as the "most beautiful woman in the world".
Rai made her acting debut in the 1997 biographical film Iruvar and starred in the commercially successful 1998 film Jeans. She received wide public recognition and several Best Actress awards for her leading roles in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 1999 melodrama Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and 2002 period film Devdas. She gained critical appreciation for her portrayal of Tagore's heroine Binodini in Rituparno Ghosh's 2003 film Chokher Bali, and a depressed woman in Ghosh's 2004 relationship drama Raincoat. Following a series of commercially unsuccessful films, Rai featured in the 2006 blockbuster adventure film Dhoom 2, the 2008 historical romance Jodhaa Akbar, and the 2010 science fiction film Enthiran. She garnered wide critical acclaim for her work in Bhansali's 2010 romantic drama Guzaarish.
Following a tumultuous relationship with actor Salman Khan, Rai married actor Abhishek Bachchan in 2007. Her off-screen roles include duties as a brand ambassador for several charity organisations and campaigns; she is a Goodwill Ambassador for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). She was awarded with the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2009, and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France in 2012.
1 Early life and modeling career
2 Acting career
2.1 Breakthrough and success (1997–2001)
2.2 Devdas and international recognition (2002–07)
2.3 Jodhaa Akbar and beyond (2008–present)
3 Off-screen work
3.1 Stage performances
3.2 Social work
3.3 Humanitarian work
4 Personal life
5 In the media
6 Awards and honours
8 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
Early life and modeling career
Rai was born in Mangalore, Karnataka to a family belonging to the Bunt community of Tulu Nadu. Her father, Krishnaraj Rai, is a marine biologist, while her mother, Brindya Rai, is a writer. Her elder brother, Aditya Rai, is an engineer with the merchant navy and the producer of the Hindi film Dil Ka Rishta (2003, starring Rai). Born to a conservative household, she was raised as a Hindu, a religion she continues to practice.
Rai's parents were settled for work in Mumbai, where she did her schooling from Arya Vidya Mandir Secondary School. While in the ninth grade, she appeared in her first modelling assignment for Camlin Pencils. After graduating from secondary school, Rai attended Jai Hind College for a year, and later passed high school from DG Ruparel College. While at Jai Hind, photographs taken by her English professor (an amateur photographer) were published in a fashion magazine. These pictures were spotted by advertising agencies and she was cast for several television commercials. In 1991, Rai won a supermodel contest (organised by Ford) and was eventually featured in the American edition of Vogue. After abandoning an idea to pursue a career in medicine, Rai enrolled for a course in architecture at the Raheja College of Arts. However, she dropped out of college to pursue a full-time career as a model.
In 1993, Rai gained public recognition for her appearance in a Pepsi commercial with actor Aamir Khan. The following year, Rai stood second at the annual Femina Miss India beauty pageant (losing out to Sushmita Sen). Rai eventually won the Miss World pageant of 1994 held at Sun City, South Africa.
Breakthrough and success (1997–2001)
Following a successful modeling career, Rai made her acting debut in 1997 with Mani Ratnam's Tamil film Iruvar, a semi-biographical political drama, featuring Mohanlal, Prakash Raj, Tabu and Revathi. The film was a critical success and among other awards, won the Best Film award at the Belgrade International Film Festival Rai featured as Pushpavalli and Kalpana – dual roles; the latter was a fictionalised portrayal of politician and former actress Jayalalithaa. Due to Rai's weak Tamil-speaking skills, her dialogues in the film were dubbed by a dubbing artist. That same year, she was cast as Ashi, a naive teenager in her first Bollywood film – Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya, a romantic comedy opposite Bobby Deol. The film was a commercial failure, and reviewers were critical of the film and Rai's acting ability.
Rai next appeared in the 1998 big-budget Tamil romantic drama Jeans, directed by S. Shankar and co-starring Prashanth and Nassar. Rai played Madhumita, a young woman who travels to the United States to seek medical attention for her ailing grandmother. A commercial success, the film earned Rai praise for her dancing skills. Unlike in Iruvar, Rai practiced and dubbed for her own lines in the film. Jeans was later submitted as India's official entry to the Academy Awards for 1998. Her first role in 1999 was in the melodrama Aa Ab Laut Chalen. Directed by Rishi Kapoor, the film was a critical failure and had a below average performance at the box office. Rai's portrayal of Pooja Walia, a traditional Indian woman living in the United States, met with negative reviews; Rediff.com published, "Aishwarya Rai sports a plastic smile and never gets a scene where she can portray any depth. All she does is cry and smile and look pretty".
Her next release, the romantic drama Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, marked a significant turning point in her career. The film, an adaptation of Maitreyi Devi's Bengali novel Na Hanyate, was directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and co-starred Salman Khan and Ajay Devgan. She played the leading role of Nandini, a Gujarati woman who is forced into wedlock (with Devgan's character) despite being in love with another man (played by Khan). TheMovieReport.com praised Rai's performance over her co-actors and noted, "Rai, in a luminous, award-winning performance (largely considered her big dramatic breakthrough--and justifiably so), fills in the conflicted emotional shades that Khan fails to bring with his one-dimensional presence". Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam emerged as a major commercial success and won Rai a Filmfare Award for Best Actress. Rai next took the leading role of Mansi, an aspiring singer, in Subhash Ghai's musical Taal; alongside Akshaye Khanna, Anil Kapoor, Amrish Puri and Alok Nath. A moderate domestic success, Taal was notable for being the first Indian film to feature in the top twenty listing at the American box-office. Rai received a second Best Actress nomination that year at the Filmfare Awards ceremony.
In 2000, Rai starred in Kandukondain Kandukondain, a Tamil language adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Sense and Sensibility. Directed by Rajiv Menon, the film also starred Tabu, Mammooty and Ajith Kumar in prominent roles. Rai was cast as Meenakshi (based on the character of Marianne Dashwood), the younger sister of Tabu's character. The film was a critical and commercial success and earned Rai positive comments from critics; a review carried by The Indian Express summarised, "Attacking her role with just the perfect dollop of innocence, Aishwarya does full justice to her part, and matches up perfectly to Tabu.".
Rai next starred alongside Shahrukh Khan and Chandrachur Singh in the action drama Josh. She portrayed Shirley Dias, the sister of Khan's character who falls in love with his arch enemy's brother (played by Singh). The casting of Rai as Khan's sister was considered an unusual pairing at the time; director Mansoor Khan, however, described it as "perfect". Despite earning mixed reviews from film critics, Josh emerged as a moderate commercial success. Satish Kaushik's social drama Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai was Rai's next release; she played Preeti Virat, a rape victim, in the film. Co-starring Anil Kapoor and Sonali Bendre, the film was well received by critics. Film critic Sukanya Verma praised Rai's decision to star in the film and added that she "conveys the turmoil and pain of a rape victim well. But it is her transition from an emotional wreck trying to gather the broken pieces of her life back together that is amazing.". Rai eventually earned a third Best Actress nomination at Filmfare.
Following a leading role in the box-office flop Dhai Akshar Prem Ke, Rai took on a supporting role in Aditya Chopra's ensemble romance Mohabbatein. Rai's role was that of Megha Shankar, the daughter of Amitabh Bachchan's character who commits suicide after a failed romance with one of her father's students (played by Shahrukh Khan). Despite earning mixed reviews from film critics, Mohabbatein emerged as the second highest grossing film of the year and earned Rai a Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination. The following year, she starred alongside Govinda and Jackie Shroff in the romantic comedy Albela. Upon release, both the film and her performance received mostly negative reviews; Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama criticised the film and mentioned Rai as "plastic in some scenes".
Devdas and international recognition (2002–07)
Rai at Cannes Film Festival 2007
After featuring in David Dhawan's slapstick comedy film Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, Rai appeared alongside Shahrukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's love-saga Devdas, an adaptation of Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel of the same name. She played the role of Paro (Parvati), the love interest of the protagonist (played by Khan). The film was screened at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and was featured by Time in their listing of the "10 best films of the millennium". The film emerged as a major international success with revenues of over 53 crore (US$9.8 million). Alan Morrison, writing for Empire, praised the performances of the three leads and wrote, "Aishwarya Rai proves she has the acting talent to back up her flawless looks". Devdas was chosen as India's official entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and received a nomination at the BAFTA Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category. In India, the film won 10 Filmfare Awards, including a second Best Actress award for Rai.
In 2003, Rai featured in two romantic dramas of Bollywood, her brother's production début Dil Ka Rishta, alongside Arjun Rampal, and Rohan Sippy's Kuch Na Kaho, alongside Abhishek Bachchan. Neither of these films fared well critically or commercially. She was later noted for her starring role in Rituparno Ghosh's independent Bengali film Chokher Bali, an adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore's novel of the same name. She portrayed the character of Binodini, an emotionally manipulative widow, struggling with her sexual desires in early-20th century Bengal. The film was a major critical success and Rai earned positive notice for her performance; Derek Elley of Variety noted, "Rai dominates the film with her delicately sensual presence and physical grace". Commercially, the film emerged as a sleeper hit.
After the success of Chokher Bali, Rai returned to mainstream Hindi film with Rajkumar Santoshi's Khakee (2004), a suspense thriller featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan and Tusshar Kapoor. The film tells the story of five constables embroiled in a mystery surrounding a terrorist attack; Rai's role was that of Mahalakshmi, a gun moll. While filming for Khakee, Rai was accidentally hit by a running car, which resulted in the fracture of her left foot. Upon release, the film received moderate critical and commercial success. In her next release, the romantic comedy Kyun! Ho Gaya Na..., Rai played Diya Malhotra, a university student who develops a one-sided attraction toward her friend Arjun Khanna (played by Vivek Oberoi). The film received positive to mixed comments from critics, but failed commercially.
In late 2004, Rai garnered international recognition for her starring role opposite Martin Henderson in Gurinder Chadha's British film Bride and Prejudice, a Bollywood-style adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. International film critics were appreciative of Rai's "beauty" but questioned her acting abilities; a review carried by The New York Times mentioned her as "radiantly beautiful but inert". With a worldwide gross of $24 million against a production budget of $7 million, Bride and Prejudice proved a commercial success. Rai next collaborated with director Rituparno Ghosh, for the second time, in the relationship drama Raincoat, an adaptation of O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi. Also featuring Ajay Devgan, Raincoat met with wide critical acclaim and among other wins, won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi. The Hindu noted, "[A]s Neerja, [Rai] appears to have shed her inhibitions about looking unglamorous. What is more, she seems to have made an earnest effort to emote, using less of her body and limbs and more of her face, and eyes in particular". She eventually received another Best Actress nomination at Filmfare.
Rai next co-starred alongside Sanjay Dutt and Zayed Khan in the 2005 adult drama Shabd, which tells the story of an author who convinces his wife to pursue an illicit relationship with a younger man in research for his next book. The film received predominantly negative reviews and proved a commercial failure. The Times of India concluded, "For the umpteenth time, Ms Rai looks drop-dead gorgeous. And that's about it. She is like that picture postcard you get when what you were actually waiting for is a letter. It's very beautiful to look at, but is of no use because it says nothing."
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan at the launch of Longines Dolcevita
That same year, Rai took on the lead role of Tilo in Paul Mayeda Berges's romantic fantasy film The Mistress of Spices, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. The film received unanimous negative reviews from film critics and emerged as a commercial failure. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian termed Rai's performance as "annoying" and wrote that she "wafts and simpers" through the entire film. Rai's only successful venture of 2005 was a special appearance in Shaad Ali's comedy Bunty Aur Babli, in which she featured in the publicly popular item number Kajra Re.
Rai had two film releases in 2006, J P Dutta's Umrao Jaan and Yash Raj Films' Dhoom 2. The former film, an adaptation of Mirza Hadi Ruswa's Urdu novel Umrao Jaan Ada (1905), tells the story of a doomed courtesan from 19th-century Lucknow. Rai played the titular role, a character famously played by Rekha in the first film adaptation of the novel. Reviewers, while comparing the film to its previous adaptation, were critical of the film as well as of Rai's performance. BBC noted, "While only Aishwarya could emulate the grace and poise of Rekha, she doesn't quite capture the intensity of Umrao's abiding melancholy", adding that "Rai's incandescent beauty and artistry [..] does indeed keep the audience watching, though not necessarily emotionally engaged."
In the Sanjay Gadhvi-directed adventure film Dhoom 2, Rai portrayed Sunehri, a small-time thief who helps the police catch an illusive criminal; the film had an ensemble cast including Hrithik Roshan, Abhishek Bachchan, Bipasha Basu, and Uday Chopra. Though critically unsuccessful, the film was Rai's first major commercial success since Devdas; the film was declared a blockbuster, and became the highest grossing Indian film of 2006 with gross revenues of over 111 crore (US$20 million). Rediff.com commented, "[She] is all gloss and no depth. You seldom feel any tension in her behaviour and expressions. [..] Sunehri enters the film nearly 50 minutes after its opening in a disguise. In no time, she is wearing the flimsiest of clothes. Once she opens her mouth—and she does it two minutes after appearing in the film—she spoils the image." Nonetheless, her performance earned her a sixth Filmfare Award nomination in the Best Actress category.
In 2007, Rai featured as the wife of Abhishek Bachchan's character in Mani Ratnam's social drama Guru. A fictionalised biography of businessman Dhirubhai Ambani, Guru tells the rag to riches story of an uneducated man who builds a multinational corporation. The film met with international critical acclaim and emerged as a box-office success. Richard Corliss of Time labelled her character as an "ornament", but Raja Sen from Rediff described it as "her finest performance, visible especially when she takes over the film's climax." Rai received her seventh Best Actress nomination at Filmfare for her performance in the film.
Rai next starred alongside Naveen Andrews and Miranda Richardson in Jag Mundhra's independent British drama Provoked, as the real-life character of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, a non-resident Indian who murders her husband after suffering from years of domestic abuse. Rai earned mostly positive comments for her performance. critic Indu Mirani from DNA wrote, "Aishwarya Rai plays the battered wife in what is undoubtedly one of her best performances to date. Rai convincingly goes through the various stages of shock, bewilderment, remorse and finally vindication". Internationally well-received, the film emerged as a moderate commercial success in the United Kingdom. That same year, Rai starred as Mira, an Indian warrior in Doug Lefler's epic film The Last Legion. Starring alongside Sir Ben Kingsley, Colin Firth, and Thomas Sangster, the film proved a major critical and commercial failure. New York Daily News noted, "[T]hough Rai may be the most beautiful woman in the world, [..] she's no actress."