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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Aishwarya Rai


Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (Tulu-Kannada: ಐಶ್ವರ್ಯಾ ರೈ, Marathi: ऐश्वर्या राय, was born on November 1, 1973. She won the Miss World contest in 1994 and went on to pursue an acting career. She made her film debut in Mani Ratnam's Iruvar (1997) and had her first critical and commercial success with Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), with whom she repeated this success with Devdas (2002). Since then, she has acted in nearly forty Hindi, Tamil, Bengali and English films. Today, she is considered to be one of the most popular actresses in India and the best-known Indian actress in the world. Rai is married to Indian actor Abhishek Bachchan and is daughter-in-law to Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan.

Early Life

Rai was born in Mangalore, in the South Indian state of Karnataka, to Krishnaraj Rai, a marine biologist, and Vrinda Rai, a writer. Her ancestors are from the Bunt community of Mangalore. Her family relocated to Mumbai (Bombay) after her birth. Rai has one elder brother, Aditya Rai who is in the merchant navy. Rai attended the Arya Vidya Mandir at Santacruz, Mumbai, then entered Jai Hind College, Churchgate, Mumbai for one year and then moved to Ruparel College, Matunga, Mumbai to finish her HSC. She was an A student and was on track to become an architect. Her mother tongue is Tulu. She also speaks Hindi, English, Kannada, Marathi and Tamil.

Rai began modeling on the side while pursuing for studies in Architecture, which did not materialise. In the 1994 Miss India pageant, she was placed second behind Sushmita Sen, and went on to win the Miss World title that same year and the Miss Photogenic award. After the one year reign as Miss World in London, she then worked as a professional model, in advertising and Indian fashion magazines and later got into the Indian film industry.


Rai debuted in Tamil language film, Iruvar (1997) with Mohanlal. She was introduced to Bollywood in the film, Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya with Bobby Deol as her co-star; the film was not a big hit on box office. However, her third project, a Tamil-language film, Jeans (1998) by S. Shankar was a critical and commercial success for which she was awarded the Filmfare Best Actress Award South. Aishwarya then appeared in many Bollywood films; a few successful films of her career include Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) and Taal (1999) for which her performance was lauded. She was awarded the Filmfare Best Actress Award for her role in the former. In 2000 she had a supporting role in the hit film Mohabbatein and also in another hit film Josh. Her third film in Tamil language project to date is, Kandukondain Kandukondain won her positive reviews for her serious portrayal of her character, Meenakshi.

In 2002, Rai appeared with superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit in Sanjay Leela Bansali's lavishly produced Devdas, which was a major box-office success. and earned her the Filmfare Best Actress Award. The film attracted overseas attention as well, receiving a special screening at the Cannes Film Festival. It was during this time that she garnered the attention of the West as an Indian actress and went on to appear in a few Hollywood projects.

As her name gained popularity in the West, she was chosen by Time magazine in 2004 as one of the World's "100 Most Influential People" and in 2003, appeared on the cover of Time magazine, ASIA EDITION (TIMEasia). She was the subject of a 60 Minutes profile on January 2. A month later she appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman. She was also featured on Oprah's "Women Across the Globe" segment. In 2003, she acted in the critically acclaimed and commercial success Bengali film, Chokher Bali, an adaptation of one of Rabindranath Tagore's novels by the same name.

Rai has been a regular at the Cannes Film Festival since 2002, and was a member of the Jury at Cannes in the year 2003. In October 2004, a wax figure of Rai became on display in London's Madame Tussaud's wax museum. The same month, her first foreign film was released: Bride and Prejudice. The film was an Indian version of Jane Austen's classic novel Pride and Prejudice. The film did well commercially in the U.K but not in India. Her next overseas venture, The Mistress of Spices, was critically acclaimed though not commercially successful. She then appeared at the closing ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, as part of a performance showcasing Indian art, on behalf of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, to be held in New Delhi. In between her overseas acting stints, she appeared in the Indian film Bunty Aur Babli in a hugely popular seven minute dance sequence for the song "Kajra Re".

In 2005, Rai signed a 3 year-contract with L'Oréal, as a spokesmodel for the cosmetics company.

At the end of the year 2006, she had two releases: Umrao Jaan and Dhoom 2. Umrao Jaan did poorly in India; however, her role in Dhoom 2, a sequel to the 2004 hit movie Dhoom brought her great attention. While it was a hit commercially, it also sparked controversy for a scene containing a kiss between Rai and Hrithik Roshan, which made several conservative female audiences uncomfortable, and a court case is currently pending in India. 2007 saw the release of Mani Ratnam's Guru which premiered in Toronto. The film, based on the life of Indian businessman Dhirubhai Ambani, was critically acclaimed and a big box office hit. Her most recent film, Provoked, based on the book "Circle of Light" where she portrays a real life character, was released on 6 April, 2007 in India and the UK. The film did well commercially in the UK. It was critically acclaimed all over the world. At the end of April 2007 her first American film, The Last Legion, was released in Russia and the Netherlands. The film opened in North American theaters in August 2007 disappointingly.

Personal Life

She dated model Rajeev Mulchandani and actors Salman Khan and Vivek Oberoi. Her turbulent relationship with Salman Khan filled gossip columns. Her parents also had lodged a complaint against him.

After much speculation concerning their relationship, her engagement to Abhishek Bachchan was announced on January 14, 2007

They married on April 20, 2007 in a private ceremony held at the Bachchans' bungalow Prateeksha. The event was heavily covered by the media.

Also see : Aishwarya Rai Gallery

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