In the time honoured tradition of beauty queens seeking Bollywood fame, Aishwarya decided to try her luck in movies.
Three years after winning the Miss World title, in 1997, Ash debuted with the Tamil film Iruvar, a fictionalised account of the lives of Dravidian political icons M G Ramachandran and M Karunanidhi. She played the role of actress-politician Jayalalithaa. Directed by Mani Ratnam, the film was a raging critical success.
In the same year, Aishwarya made her Bollywood debut with Rahul Rawail's Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya. Though Ash won the Screen Award for the Most Promising Newcomer Female, she could not save the movie from being a box office disaster.
Her next movie was the Tamil musical Jeans. The blockbuster, directed by Shankar, was India's official Best Foreign Language Film entry at the Oscars.