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Happy Birthday, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Loving Her @46 Is Not Mushkil

October 31, 2019 23:42
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    Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, often hailed as the world's most beautiful woman, completes 46 wonderful years today. From being the face of international brands to being a doting mommy to Aaradhya, life changed drastically for the former Miss World, but she has enjoyed her sabbatical to the fullest and came back with Jazbaa in 2015. On this special day, we take a look at the life and times of Bollywood's international ambassador as she turns a year older.

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    Aishwarya was born in Mangalore on November 1, 1973. Her family belongs to the Bunt community and speaks Tulu. Aishwarya's father Krishnaraj Rai, was a retired marine biologist while her mother Vrinda Rai, is a writer. She has an elder brother Aditya Rai, who is in the merchant navy.

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    Brought up in Mumbai, Ash studied at Arya Vidya Mandir High School, then moved to Jai Hind College and finally completed her HSC degree from Ruparel College. While in college, a young Ash dreamt of becoming an architect. However, destiny's favourite child quickly fell into modelling instead. In the 1994 Miss India pageant, she stood second, narrowly losing the crown to Sushmita Sen. Staying true to her indomitable spirit, Ash stuck to her guns and went on to beat 86 other contestants at the Miss World pageant in 1994.

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    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.

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    After the mediocre Aa Ab Laut Chalein (1999), which was directed by Rishi Kapoor, Ash delivered a breakthrough performance in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999). Aishwarya also bagged the Filmfare Award for Best Actress for her stupendous performance in the movie.

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    Aishwarya's talent for dance secured her the lead role in Subhash Ghai's blockbuster Taal (1999). She was nominated for the Filmfare Best Actress Award for her performance in the movie.

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    In 2003, Aishwarya forayed into Bengali filmdom with Rituparno Ghosh's critically-acclaimed Chokher Bali, which was based on a novel by Rabindranath Tagore. Critics heaped praises on her performance.

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    After Mohabbatein and Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin, she teamed up with future father-in-law, Amitabh Bachchan, again in Khakee (2004). The movie also featured Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn and Tusshar Kapoor.

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    British film director Gurinder Chadha gave Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice a desi twist in Bride and Prejudice(2004).

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    It was during this time that Aishwarya was reportedly dating actor Vivek Oberoi, who insisted on going public with their relationship. However, she was keen to keep it low-key after her failed romance with Salman made headlines. They even appeared together at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. However, after working with Vivek in Kyun? Ho Gaya Na! (2004), Aishwarya quietly ended the relationship and moved on.

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    In the year 2006, Aishwarya starred opposite Hollywood actor Dylan McDermott in The Mistress Of Spices, which was a film adaptation of Chitra Divakaruni Banerjee's novel.

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    The late Jag Mundhra, best-known for his erotic thrillers, took the true story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, who killed her abusive husband, and made Provoked (2006) with Ash in the lead role. After Raincoat and Chokher Bali, many consider it one of Ash's finest performances.

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    In JP Dutta's remake of Umrao Jaan (2006), Ash was once again paired with her future husband Abhishek Bachchan. She had the difficult task of recreating the role of a 19th century Lucknow courtesan, which had won actress Rekha a National Award in 1981. Sadly, Ash and Abhishek's sizzling chemistry could not repeat the magic of Muzaffar Ali's 1981 version. Even though Aishwarya looked overwhelmingly beautiful, the movie failed at the box office. However, the movie marked the beginning of Ash's real life love story with Abhishek Bachchan.

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    For the 2006 action heist film Dhoom 2, Aishwarya shed not only her demure, girl-next-door, perpetually-in-love image, but her clothes as well. She completely reinvented herself with this movie. A sequel to the 2004 movie Dhoom, Dhoom 2 saw Ash paired opposite Hrithik Roshan, in the role of a thief-turned-police accomplice.

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    Aishwarya's next film Guru, which again starred Abhishek Bachchan, marked a turning point in her life. At the premiere of the movie in Canada, Abhishek popped the question to her, and Ash said yes. Amitabh Bachchan announced the news on his blog, creating a media furore like none other. Directed by Mani Ratnam, Guru turned out to be a phenomenal success at the box office.

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    Aishwarya and Abhishek were married on April 20, 2007 in an elaborate wedding. Bollywood, however, took umbrage to the guest list, which included only a few close friends of the Bachchan and Rai families, blissfully ignoring many of the industry's biggest stars.

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    Marriage did not stop Aishwarya from continuing to work in movies. The actress delivered a commendable performance in Ashutosh Gowarikar's magnum opus Jodhaa Akbar (2008), where she played Rajput queen Jodhaa Bai opposite Hrithik Roshan's emperor Akbar, the woman who influenced many of his decisions. While the movie generated some controversy for its depiction of Jodhaa Bai and Akbar's relationship, it went on to become a huge hit. Once again, her chemistry with Hrithik had hit the mark.

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    Aishwarya and Abhishek's first film together after they were married was Ram Gopal Varma's Sarkar Raj (2008), the sequel to the very successful Sarkar (2005). Aishwarya played a character with subtle shades of grey, as did Abhishek. Sarkar Raj was based on Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather II.

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    In the 2009 movie The Pink Panther 2, Aishwarya appeared in the role of a criminology expert, Sonia Solandres, opposite everybody's favourite funnyman, Steve Martin. She was the film's main villain and also the prominent eye-candy, holding her own against the Hollywood A-listers.

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    Ash's bilingual portrayal of the reinvented role of Sita in Mani Ratnam's Raavan (2010) and Raavanan (2010) met entirely different fates. Raavanan was a huge hit down South and the actress saw that as a potential ready to be tapped. Raavan, on the other hand, was one of the most loathed films of 2010.

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    Another Southern superhit followed, this time opposite the redoubtable Rajinikanth, in Enthiran (2010). The dubbed Hindi version, Robot, was also a superhit.

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    After five years, Aishwarya returned to the big screen with Sanjay Gupta's Jazbaa, in which she played the role of a righteous criminal lawyer, forced to do the bidding of a goon to save her daughter. The film also starred Irrfan Khan, however was declared a box office dud.

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    Aishwarya was seen in Omung Kumar's biopic of slain Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, Sarbjit. She played the role of Sarabjit's sister Dalbir, who made it her life's mission to save her brother.

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    As 2016 ended, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil released to prove that Aishwarya is here to stay. Her onscreen romance with Ranbir created quite a stir among the audience. The film was the box office hit she needed.

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    In 2018, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan starred in Fanney Khan, co-starring Anil Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao.

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    Aishwarya made her first major public appearance after her pregnancy break at Cannes in May 2012.

    Already under public scrutiny for failing to shed her pregnancy weight, Ash had a mixed bag of fashion hits and misses at the Cannes. She earned a thumbs up with her dresses and gowns but left style watchers divided in a cream and gold embellished sari worn with a jacket-style blouse.

    Her final red carpet appearance in a grey Elie Saab, accessorised with a huge smile and a carefree wave of her hand, unmindful of the fact that the dress clung to every plus size curve, was a fashion high for her.

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    In 2009, Aishwarya was awarded the Padma Shri by the government of India.

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    In the year 2012, Ash finally accepted the second-highest Order of France, 'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres', becoming the fourth Indian actor, after Sivaji Ganesan, Nandita Das and Shah Rukh Khan, to be chosen for the award. She had earlier refused it because her father was suffering from a serious illness and she wanted her whole family to attend the award ceremony.

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    In 2019, she dubbed for the Hindi rendition of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

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    Here's wishing Aishwarya a very happy birthday and a great year ahead.

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