Queen of Bollywood
"I'm just average woman with average concerns." Aishwarya Rai
The Queen of Bollywood (nickname, Bollywood: Indian film industry), Indian model and actress Aishwarya Rai first came to the spotlight when she was crowned Miss World in 1994. Ash, who initially gained praise for starring in the Bollywood film Devdas (2002), recently turned to Hollywood and played the lead role of Lalita, in the film inspired by Jane Austen's novel, Bride and Prejudice (2005, opposite Martin Henderson).
As a model, blue/green-eyed, 5' 7" inches tall Ash was recognized for appearing with Indian actor Aamir Khan in Pepsi commercials and being the spokesmodel for Longines watches. Additionally, the Indian beauty who is fluent in English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil and Urdu, was handed a contract by L'Oreal in 2003 to be the company's new worldwide spokesperson.
On a personal front, Aishwarya Rai once dated Bollywood fellow actor Salman Khan.
Ash, Aishu, Gullu
Childhood and Family:
Indian model and actress Aishwarya Rai was born on November 1, 1973, in Mangalore, Karnataka, India. Her mother is writer Vrinda Rai and her brother is producer Aditya Rai (older).
While in high school, Ash, also nicknamed Aishu and Gullu, was a straight-A student and popular in school. She also took classical dance and music classes, and studied architecture in college in Bombay. She began modeling at a young age.
Mistress of Spices
"Life may be one BIG drama, and we, character in it.... But... live it... Every moment in it." Aishwarya Rai
Aishwarya Rai initiated her modeling career at an early age. Her debut commercial, for Camlin pencils, took place when she was in the 9th grade and she later gained more notice as the "Coca Cola Girl" of Middle Eastern countries and starring with actor Aamir Khan in Pepsi ads.
In 1994, Aishwarya Rai won the prestigious title of "Miss World" in the Miss World beauty pageant. She competed with 86 other beauties from countries around the world for the title. Her new victory handed her several film offers, including her big screen debut in the 1997 films, ...Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya, and Iruvar.
Since her first silver screen appearance, Ash's film roles continued to flourish. She could be seen acting in such Indian films as Aa Ab Laut Chalen, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Taal, Ravoyi Chandamama (all in 1999), and Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000). After portraying Shahrukh Khan's twin sister, Shirley, in the romance-action movie Josh, Ash starred in such Bollywood films as Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai (2000), Dhaai Akshar Prem Ke (2000), Mohabbatein (2000) and Albela (2001).
In 2002, Aishwarya starred as character Paro in the musical Devdas, a romantic drama adapted from Saratchandra Chatterjee's novel. Also starring Shahrukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit, Ash received critical acclaim for her portrayal, winning a Screen Weekly Award, Filmfare Award, and International Indian Film Academy Award.
In the next years, audiences found Ash in such films as Dil Ka Rishta, Chokher Bali, Kuch Naa Kaho (all in 2003), and Khakee (2004). She also played idealistic, sensitive girl Diya Malhotra, in the romantic comedy, Kyun! Ho Gaya Na.
Ash entered the Hollywood scene in 2004. Film director Gurinder Chadha cast her to portray smart, headstrong Lalita, in his adaptation of the Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice, in the musical Bride and Prejudice (opposite Martin Henderson) and in 2005, she was seen in the Indian drama Shabd.
As for the coming years, Ash will star in two British films. She will play Indian outsider Tilo, who runs a spice store in San Francisco and has a magical gift of seeing into her customers' lives and desires, in Paul Mayeda Berges' romantic drama, Mistress of Spices, and team with Brendan Fraser in Roland Joffé's drama, Singularity. Ash will also be involved in several Hollywood films, including starring with Meryl Streep in Coline Serreau's drama, Chaos, and costarring with Michael Douglas in Steve Carr's adventure drama, Racing The Monsoon.
However, Ash does not leave India completely. She is currently scheduled to finish several upcoming films in India, including Bunty Aur Babli, The Heart of India, and Dhoom 2.
"Life will take its toll on all of us. We get injured. We get old. It's really sad to try to run away from these harsh realities of life. Looks are not everything. I am not going to look beautiful all the time." Aishwarya Rai
- Screen Weekly: Screen - Best Actress, Devdas, 2003
- Filmfare Awards: Best Actress, Devdas, 2003
- Awards of the International Indian Film Academy: Popular Award - Actress in a Leading Role, Devdas, 2003
- Zee Cine: True Indian Actress, 2003