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Aishwarya Rai

Aishwarya Rai, co-star of the "Bride & Prejudice" Movie!

Born in a traditional South Indian family, Aishwarya started modelling at a young age. This green-blue eyed beauty stole ads for many prestigious firms, the ones which brought her into the limelight were the garden sari and the pepsi ad. Crowned Miss femina '94 runner up, she was a hot favorite to win the miss world title, which she did ! Her beauty and charm made her India's darling. Ash has now stormed into the Bollywood movie industry where she's out to prove that she make a good actress too! Her performance in Iruvar (1997) was critically approved and she bagged the screen best female debutant award for her role in ...Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya (1997). With more than a handful prestigious projects expected to be released it would be difficult to ignore her. Aishwarya was an architecture student before she entered modelling as her part time job. She was best known for her Pepsi commercial with 'Mahima Chaudhary' . With her green gray eyes, she was already approached by big names in India's film industry to star in films. She rejected the film offers since she aimed to be an architect. However, fate had other things in store for her after she was crowned Miss World 1994. Soon after her winning, again she received offers to star in movies. In Southern Indian, she was best known for her role as Madhumita/Veishnavi in Jeans (1998) and Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000). She bagged Filmfare Award for best actress for her performance in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) as Ajay Devgan's wife who is in love with another man. She also won rave reviews for her performance as a rape victim in Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai (2000).

Aishwarya Rai was born in Mangalore, in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, on November 1st, 1973. Her father, a merchant navy officer, relocated the family to Mumbai (formerly Bombay) when Aishwarya was four years old. She excelled at academics as a child and chose science as her area of concentration, hoping for a career in medicine (zoology being her favorite subject at the time). Instead, Ash -- one of her nicknames -- opted for a career in architecture, and passed her college entrance interviews with flying colors.

Aishwarya entered the world of modeling when she was in the 9th grade, appearing in an ad for Camlin Industries. Initially, she modeled part-time, while focusing on her studies. As more assignments started rolling in, Ash decided to take a break from architecture and concentrate on modeling.

Aishwarya became well known in India after she appeared in a Pepsi commercial. Other high-profile assignments quickly followed, including Palmolive, Casio pagers, Philips, Sheetal diva, and Prudent. What started off as a part-time activity quickly grew into a full-fledged career, as more companies hired the young beauty with the magnificent blue-green (and sometimes blue-gray) eyes.

In 1991, at the age of seventeen, Aishwarya was coaxed into entering the prestigious Ford Supermodel Contest by a friend. To her amazement, she won, and also took the Tulips Miss Super Vivacious prize, which was part of the same contest. Ash was spotted by famous photographer Steven Meisel, and was soon featured in Vogue magazine. Bollywood, the massive Indian film industry, quickly came calling, and she made her first film appearance in Mamagaru that same year.

Initially rejecting subsequent film offers, Ash still hoped to finish her studies as an architect, and be with her family. But her career plans were forever altered when she entered the Miss Femina World contest in 1994. The 20-year-old became the first runner-up, and was tipped to take the title at the upcoming Miss World pageant in Sun City, South Africa. She was crowned Miss World in 1994, was named Miss Catwalk, and was selected as having the Most Photogenic Face by the pageant's judges.

Aishwarya's stunning beauty, elegance and charm made her the darling of India. She became even more famous in her native country after winning the Miss World title, and was again approached by big names in India's movie industry to star in films. Although she had little acting experience, she won over the critics and audiences alike in 1997's Iruvar (a.k.a. The Duo). For her role as Aishi in 1997's ...Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya, Aishu (another one of her nicknames) picked up India's Screen Best Female Debut award. In 1998, she took on the dual role of Madhumitha/Vaishnavi in Jeans, which also won the actress critical praise and much male adoration.

Aishwarya was selected as the spokesmodel for Longines watches in 1999, and continued to appear in Indian films. She won the Filmfare Award for Best Actress for her performance in 1999's Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (a.k.a. Straight from the Heart).

In 2000, she starred as Meenakshi in Kandukondain Kandukondain (a.k.a. I Have Found It). That same year, she appeared in Mohabbatein (a.k.a. Love Stories) and won rave reviews for her performance as Preeti, a rape victim, in Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai. She was selected as Screen Weekly's Best Actress for 2000. Her acting career has largely overshadowed her modeling work. In 2002, Ash was featured in no less than five Indian films, including 23rd March 1931: Shaheed and Shakti: The Power, where she appeared as the Dream Girl. Bollywood's Dream Girl could soon become the world's Dream Woman, should Aishwarya Rai decide to take on European or American cinema as her next conquest.

Bollywood's Aishwarya Rai spices up Hollywood in latest

The actress known as the Queen of Bollywood is trying to make the transition from Indian sensation to Hollywood star.

Aishwarya Rai, whose first English-language movie was 2004's Bride & Prejudice, was in downtown Oakland filming scenes for her new movie, Mistress of Spices, about a shop owner trained in the art of healing with spices.

Rai, a former Miss World, is a superstar in India. She has made more than 30 movies and has served on the Cannes Film Festival jury.

"It's kind of like an ode to the Bay Area," Rai, 31, said of Mistress of Spices. The filmmakers spent Sunday shooting joggers and murals around Lake Merritt for background scenes for Spices, which is based on the novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

Aishwarya Rai Invited To Oscars

Once again the Hollywood spotlight is on Aishwarya Rai. Sources say the Oscar organisers have invited her to present a trophy at the awards ceremony on Sunday!

It would be a unique honour for an Indian entertainer, and one that Ash would not miss Gurinder Chadha, who directed her in Bride and Prejudice was reported as saying.

Aishwarya will be shooting for Paul Berges' Mistress Of Spices on the night before the ceremony so it will be cutting things fine as filming is taking place in the UK

The film's US distributors, Miramax, have opted for a large number of prints of Bride and Prejudice in the second week.
Miramax will be keen to get her to the Oscars, as it will provide primetime publicity for thier film and their star, though this could clash with the views of the films producers.

Therse will be little doubt that Ms Rai will attend and Miramax will get their way, this will be one opportunity that she cannot afford to miss in her attempts to make it in main stream Hollywood, so expect last minute late flights to the Awards.

Aishwarya Rai To Star In Taj Mahal Movie

Bollywood's Aishwarya Rai is reported as being set to star in a Hollywood blockbuster called Taj Mahal, the famous monument to love built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

A group of US-based Indian business men are to finance the movie which will be made using the IMax format with a planned released of January 2006, the Asian Age newspaper reported yesterday.

The name of the male Hollywood co-star who will play Shah Jahan to Rai's Mumtaz Mahal, has not yet been revealed.

The Taj Mahal an to Indian the monument was built in Agra in the 17th century by the emperor, who was heartbroken at the death of his second wife Mumtaz while giving birth to their fourteenth child. The monument has symbolised love throughout the world, and is named as one of the seven wonders of the world.
The movie is set to be one of the biggest budget films made outside of India and will be produced by India Lotus Inc a company formed solely for the production.

Taj Mahal will be the first Indian IMax film, which is shown on a screen 10 times larger than the conventional screen.It makes the viewer feel as if he is part of the film. The IMax version of Taj Mahal will be for only an hour. There will also be a standard 35 mm version filmed which will be considerably longer almost three hours long.

Aishwarya Rai, a former Miss World, has been trying to cross from the Bollywood film industry into mainstream Hollywood for some time having just starred in the Gurinder Chadha Directed movie Bride and Prejudice released by Pathe earlier this year.

She is also rumoured to have secured a role in a movie based on the Bhopal tragedy

Aishwarya Rai Wont Strip For Hollywood Producers

RAI FEARS FORBIDDEN STEAMY SCENES

Stunning Bollywood star AISHWARYA RAI admits Hollywood bosses will face a tough time persuading her to get raunchy in a movie - because sexy scenes are forbidden in Indian cinema.

The BRIDE AND PREJUDICE beauty has already captured the interests of major US movie-makers and is excited about pursuing blockbuster productions, even though she accepts onscreen acts as timid as a kiss could provoke outrage in her native India.

But Rai is hopeful she'll be able to collaborate with directors and scriptwriters in creating suitable alternatives to potentially raunchy - and offensive - scenes.
In an interview on CBS show 60 MINUTES, Rai says, "We'll cross the bridge when we reach it. We'll work on the story, work on the scene. I'll work on the part and - and let's see.

"In our society, you don't really see people around the street corner kissing or being extremely or overtly physically demonstrative."

Aishwarya Rai Most Searched For Name

According to internet giants MSN the most searched for actress is Bollywoods Aishwarya Rai.

Although not the best actress in the industry, often criticesed for being too posed, Aishwarya Rai's beauty is world famous.

Currently Ms Rai is trying to establish herself in Bollywoods illustrious counterpart Hollywood starring in the recently released Gurinder Chaddha's Bride and Prejudice.

Michael Doughlas travelled to India to sign her for his next film, Romancing the Monsoon which goes someway to confirming that she is succeeding in the States.
According to MSN Aishwarya is the third most searched for name after Mars Rover 1 and The Superbowl

Bride and Prejudice may not have been the box office hit she expected but it certainly gave her the chance to showcase her tallents and this publicity is certainly adding to the interest.

Though insiders within the Hollywood fraternity tell us that the main stumbling block to Aishwarya Rai's career taking off is her refusal to take parts that involve kissing or the more raunchy bed scenes.

Fast Facts About Aishwarya Rai:

* Born Nov. 1, 1973, in Mangalore, Karnataka, India.

* In 1994, won Miss World for India. She was working as a model while still a science and architecture student.

* As one of India's most famous models, she landed a prestigious Pepsi campaign and several Vogue spreads.

* In 1997, made her film debut in Mani Rathnam's "Iruvar," followed by "Aur Paar Ho Gaya'."

* In 1999, she was seen in "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam."("Straight from the Heart" – English title)

* In 2000, she was cast in "Mohabbatein"("Love Stories") and "Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai" ("You Have My Heart").

* In 2002, she portrayed Parvati in the highly acclaimed "Devdas."

* In 2003, she became the first Indian actor invited to serve on the Cannes jury.

* Recently, Rai has joined Catherine Deneuve and Andie MacDowell as a member of the elite L'Oreal Dream Team. She has graced the covers of India Today, Time magazine and was listed on Rolling Stone magazine's annual "Hot List."

Her quote:

"Sexy in India is not considered positive. But, with today's crop of fresh faces in the modeling arena, being sexy is an asset."

Introducing Aishwarya Rai

Aishwarya Rai is one of the biggest movie stars in the world, with more than 18,000 Web sites devoted to her.

If you're like many Americans, you may not have heard of her yet. But that's all about to change.

Since being named Miss World in 1994, Aishwarya Rai has become a worldwide phenomenon. She has emerged as the first lady of Bollywood, (the nickname of India's billion-dollar film business), winning multiple awards, and becoming its highest-paid star.

She's been on countless magazine covers, including Time magazine, which has named her one of the world's most influential people, and she has endorsement deals with such companies as De Beers jewels, L'Oreal, and Coca-Cola.

Now Rai makes her Hollywood film debut in a Bollywood-style musical update of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," titled "Bride and Prejudice," playing Lalita, a headstrong woman being pressured by her parents to marry, but holding out for true love.

"She sums up her culture," Rai tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith. "When this Darcy starts commenting on the Indian system or Indian culture, there she is right in there, standing up for her roots, and talking about the arranged marriage system as the global dating system."

In urban India, like Bombay, where Rai comes from, she says, "There would be girls who choose their partners and there would be families who they do still follow the arranged-marriage culture. It has a great success ratio, so you shouldn't judge it. Many couples are happy within that system."

But besides the plot, what stands out in the film is its style. "Song and dance is very much a part of the film," Rai explains. "That's the way our culture is. There are a lot of reasons to celebrate at weddings, festivals. It is a part of the lifestyle for our culture, and art imitates life. And it's part of the cinema as well, and we enjoy it."

As she steps into the West, Smith asks if she wants to be a star.

"I know I'll be judged and no one will believe me," Rai answers. "I think I've definitely gone past that. It's about catalyzing the movement of the Indian presence on the international platform. It's about doing good roles rather than taking on anything I might get to put my foot in the door."

The film also stars Martin Henderson ("The Ring") as Darcy; Naveen Andrews (ABC's "Lost"), Daniel Gillies, Namrate Shirodkar, Indira Varma, Nadira Babbar, Aunupam Kher, Meghna Kotari, Peeya Rai and Nitin Ganatra. Gurinder Chadha ("Bend It Like Beckham") directs.

Rai will next be seen in "Chaos" opposite Meryl Streep; Roland Joffe's "Singularity" with Brendan Fraser; and in the lead role of "Mistress of Spices," which Gurinder Chadha is producing for Paul Mayeda Berges to direct.

 

Aishwarya dazzles at 'Bride & Prejudice' US premiere

Dressed in a gold Gucci gown, Aishwarya Rai wowed the US audience at the premiere of Gurinder Chadha's "Bride & Prejudice".

In the US on a three-day tour, she gave the Americans enough reasons to swoon over before zipping off to Britain to film a screen adaptation of the novel "The Mistress Of Spices" to be directed by Chadha's husband Paul Berges.

"I'm of course there to supervise and act as official producer. But 'Mistress...' is my husband's baby all the way. And we're so glad to have Ash with us again," says Chadha.

The US premiere has resurrected Chadha's belief that "Ash is the only Bollywood actress who can win us brownie points abroad. They love her poise and beauty".

Aishwarya's presence at the premiere in New York attracted tremendous media attention. It was Fashion Week in New York. Photographers temporarily abandoned their commitments at fashion shows to be at the premiere to capture Ash's glorious debut in America.

"It was an incredible experience. Absolutely top of the line!" exults Ash. "I couldn't have hoped for better. The Americans seem to have accepted the film with pride and without prejudice."

Though "Bride & Prejudice" opened at only 32 screens in the US, its box-office collections were next only to the new Will Smith starrer "Hitch". Which is really as top notch as it gets.

In addition, Aishwarya made prestigious appearances on several talk shows, including David Letterman and Oprah Winfrey. Her appearance on both the shows was greeted with a great deal of warm affection in the US.

Now the Bollywood star is shooting in Britain for "The Mistress Of Spices" with Dylan McDermott.

The American triumph comes at a time when Aishwarya seems to be on the brink of a reinvention in Bollywood. In the last two months, her efforts to do more mature and mellower roles - Rituparno Ghosh's "Raincoat" and Leena Yadav's "Shabd" - came to nought with both the films biting the dust.

A move ahead, especially towards international cinema, was inevitable. It looks like "Bride & Prejudice" has given her that impetus.

For Ash, the world’s not enough

So, she was crowned the most beautiful woman in the world in 1994. She was also the most searched personality on the net in the past few days.

And now, America knows it too!

Aishwarya Rai made her Hollywood debut amid much anticipation as Bride and Prejudice opened in the US last week.

From being the iconic pretty face that wouldn't move audiences to tears or laughter, from being considered a krypton import who did little more than arch her brows and sashay to choreographed routines on and off the screen, this Bollywood phenomenon has risen, despite her detractors, (and there are many) to international fame and more daunting, an ever growing fan base both within and outside of India.

How then could Atlanta be unaffected by the charm of the actress who is now, fast becoming, the international face of Indian cinema?

That she has signed on movies with Oscar winning actors Michael Douglas and Meryl Streep separately is testimony to her serious ticket to fame and creditworthiness in the capital of moviedom, Hollywood.

Her tryst with Bride and Prejudice and Gurinder Chadha is now being hailed as harbinger to a far more spectacular dawn for her on the global marquee.

Back home, she may be shadow competition to acclaimed actresses of merit such as Urmila Matondkar, Rani Mukherjee and Priety Zinta, but overseas Rai is well on the road to becoming an unrivalled mascot of the oomph, class and chic persona of the contemporary Indian actress.

While Indians were glued to their TV sets for both 60 minutes and the recent Bride publicity chat on David Letterman to see Ash quizzed, analysed and revealed to the globe, there were others here who were more than bedazzled by the twinkling, emerald-eyed sensation in the days preceding her unveiling on television.

To begin with, Rai created a furore in the Sino-American community when her photograph appeared in a local Chinese newspaper here.

Many took to the statuesque Indian beauty with a doggedness that far outdoes the Indian craze for star chutzpah.

So much so, that at a popular Chinese restaurant in metro Atlanta, the owners put her photograph up on the wall with a caption that read, 'She is Indian, looks American and is petite (euphemising 'short'?), like the Chinese'.

Indians visiting the eatery were bombarded with questions about Rai's age, her marital status and the movies that showcased her best.

So much so that there was a rampage of surreptitious soliciting for posters of the actress!

US accepts Bollywood ‘Bride’ without prejudice

Bollywood stunner Aishwarya Rai ’s first English film Bride and Prejudice has got off to a good start at the US box-office.

Ash’s television appearance on the Late Show may not have gone as well as expected, but her movie certainly seems to be laughing its way to the top-20 chart and setting the cash registers ringing, despite a limited release.
According to box office expert Gitesh Pandya, the film grossed an estimated $388,000 from only 32 theatres over the weekend, delivering a strong average of $12,125 per theatre.

“That was good enough to give 'Bride' the second best average in the Top 20 close behind Will Smith's number-one hit 'Hitch',” Pandya is quoted to have said.

A Bollywoodish adaptation of Jane Austen classic novel of 1813, ‘Bride and Prejudice’ stars Aishwarya Rai, Martin Hendersen , Namrata Shirodkar and Naveen Andrews in the main roles.

So far, the reviews of film critics in America has been less scathing than the criticism ‘Bride’ met in the UK and India.

Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times described the movie as “a Hollywood musical comedy incorporating Bollywood elements.”

Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone absolved the film’s director of taking too much liberty with Austen’s story with his statement: “Purists who think Austen will be spinning in her grave will be wrong. She'll be dancing.”

I never thought of joining movies: Ash

Aishwarya Rai , whose first international film Bride and Prejudice , hits the theatres today, says that she had never thought of joining movies.

In an interview on NDTV, Ash says that after winning the Miss World Title, a lot of film personalities used to ask her whether she will join the movies and she used to keep saying no because she was also a student (of architecture) and she never thought of joining movies.
On being like Aishwarya Rai, she says that she is just busy being herself. She is a professional to the sincerest best that she can be, and she chose to be, and that’s about it.

On the pressure of delivering hits or the responsibility of the success of a product, Ash says that she has to deliver her job as a professional...as in the person who has employed her to deliver the job that she is supposed to do and that’s to the best of her ability.

Answering to a query that she and cricket star Sachin Tendulkar keep on calling themselves dropouts and this may lead to all children dropping out of school and college, Ash says that she made a very conscious decision after winning the Miss World pageant, when she came back. She realised that she was not going to be a normal student any more. And she didn’t want to be a celebrity student. So it would have meant going away abroad and completing her education or choosing an alternative career. And of course films, she was being asked about plenty, even prior to joining...

On being asked which is tougher in world of modelling and beauty contests or cinema, Ash says that It’s not the question of tougher, but films are definitely an ocean and cinema is just very, very fascinating. Modelling is fun, it’s exciting. Even the beauty titleholder...it’s a good thing that they give you a year for that because a year is wonderful. She had a very, very fulfilling experience. For her it was about being a representative of India.

On her favourite performances in cinema, Ash picks Iruvar as very, very special because that was her first film and that too with Mani Ratnam . ‘Jeans’ next, because it was a technically new film for her to work in. And also Devdaas , for which she says she must have been the only person on that team making that film who hadn’t seen the earlier Devdases.

'Bride' Actress Takes on 'Mistress' Role

Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai is about to spice up her career. The 31-year-old Indian beauty will star opposite Dylan McDermott in "The Mistress of the Spices," report news sources. Based on the novel by Chitra Divakaruni, "Spices" centers on Tilo, an immortal woman born in a mystical, faraway place, who is trained in the ancient art of healing with spices. The newly initiated Tilo opens up shop in California, but faces a tough decision when she falls in love with a handsome mortal.

If "Spices" follows the usual Hollywood formula, Rai can look forward to her first on-screen kiss. The former Miss World has only appeared in Bollywood films, which uses elaborate dance and musical sequences in place of PDA and sex. Even in her latest film -- "Bride & Prejudice" from "Bend It Like Beckham" filmmaker Gurinder Chadha -- which will open on U.S. shores, Rai still limits her passion to longing glances, hand-holding and chaste embraces.

Paul Mayeda Berges will begin shooting the project in one week. Berges is the husband of "Bride's" Chadha, who will produce with Deepak Nayar. "Bride," which opens Friday, Feb. 11, also features "The Ring's" Martin Henderson, "Lost's" Naveen Andrews and Alexis Bledel of Gilmore Girls.

Oscar Winner ´Romancing The Monsoon ´ With Aishwarya ?

Hollywood is buzzing that Oscar winner Michael Douglas will be producing and starring in the third installment of his 80s hit films: ´Romancing The Stone´ and ´Jewel Of The Nile´. The film is titled ´Racing The Monsoon´.

Both films revolved around the adventures of Jack Colton (Douglas) and a writer caught in the middle of treasure hunts. Well, an interesting bit of news is that Bollywood´s very own Aishwarya Rai will most likely play the lead role with the 60-year old Douglas. The film will also star other Indian actors, yet to be determined. Filming is expected to begin in early 2006.

Looks like Aishwarya is flying high after the success of "Bride and Prejudice" in the UK and awaiting its release in the US in February 2005.

Aishwarya Rai: Actors are like gypsies

Aishwarya Rai showed up on the Late Show with David Letterman in a short black dress, a black blouse and a leather jacket -- and made sure he wasn't going to have one up on her.

When he asked her how she got started in show biz, she threw a smile at him and asked how he got started in his business. Someone fell sick, Letterman said laughing.

Earlier, on his hour-long program on CBS, Letterman reiterated what are now familiar lines in America: Rai is the most famous star in the world adored by billions and she is also the most beautiful woman in the world.

Ash had the second billing on his show, following comedian Kevin James who makes his big screen debut in Hitch (starring Will Smith) which opens on February 11, the same day Gurinder Chadha's Bride And Prejudice (starring Rai) is being released in 15 American cities on about two dozen screens.

Unlike the CBS's 60 Minutes that was shot in Mumbai and followed Rai to the Siddhi Vinayak Temple (and showed her grabbing more attention than the deities), the Letterman interview took place in his studio in New York.

Rai's appearance on the show came less than 16 hours before she would walk on the red carpet at the Bride and Prejudice premiere at Union Square Theatre in Manhattan.

Unlike in the 60 Minutes show, Rai did not have tell Letterman about her queasy feelings about kissing on screen. She made a face at him for asking if it was common for grown-up children in India to live with their parents. Rai said the arrangement suited her fine; she did not have to take appointments to have dinner with her parents.

And she patiently answered the question over a dozen reporters, including one from Daily News, have asked her: Will she relocate to Hollywood? Actors are like gypsies, Rai said with a smile, and they have no problem moving around. But she wasn't thinking of a permanent move, she added.

The Daily News, with over 1.5 million readers, last week published a 1,200 word piece on Rai, titled India's Magnificent Obsession.

Ash is enjoying the wildest attention a foreign actress has received in recent years in America (it was a different era when Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida were lionised). Not even Zhang Ziyi, whose Hero grossed an impressive $50 million in the US leading her to the title role in Steven Spielberg's Memoirs Of A Geisha has received a fraction of the attention that Rai has commanded.

Despite all the attention Rai has been getting, her name did not appear in the quarter-page colour ad Bride And Prejudice distributor Miramax ran on Sunday in The New York Times. The ad, which used a still from the film showing her with Henderson, did not mention the names of the cast. But Chadha had her name in three places; along with her husband Paul Mayeda Berges as co-writer, as co-producer with Deepak Nayar and as the director.

In a few days, it will be time for a reality check; the reviews will start pouring in. Hollywood will have to decide if Rai is 'a world-class hottie' as Peter Travers declared in Rolling Stone magazine or just a beautiful 'still picture' as Richard Corliss complained in Time.

The interest in Rai also has to do partly with the success of desi directors such as Gurinder Chadha and Mira Nair in America. If they trust an actor, the logic seems to be, Hollywood has to pay serious attention.

Whether the publicity will lead Rai to a plum Hollywood role will depend considerably on how Bride And Prejudice plays to the crossover audience.

Some early reviewers have already written about Ash. '…A goddess in her native India, [she] will soon be adding Americans to her worshipful flock,' Travers declared in Rolling Stone.

Corliss, whose recent favourite movies include Devdas (that co-starred Rai), differed. 'She appears always to be fluffing her hair for the next fashion shoot,' he wrote. 'She's got moves on the dance floor; and… she smartly sells a few numbers that try to update the [Jane] Austen ethos ('I just wanna man who gives some back/ Who talks to me and not my rack'). What she can't do yet is suggest a complex spirit behind the lovely façade.'

Chadha is convinced Bride And Prejudice will outperform her surprise hit Bend it Like Beckham that grossed about $34 million in North America two years ago.

"Miramax knows, after several screen tests, that this is a populist film," declares Chadha.

She is not concerned if few people know about Jane Austen's novel that inspired the film. The film isn't advertised as based on the classic; at least the advertisements did not mention Austen.

"The novel was an inspiration, alright," Chadha says. "But we have given the film a contemporary and international outlook. Anyone can go into a theatre without knowing anything about Jane Austen or Bollywood and enjoy the film."

She wants the audiences to discover a whole new world, Chadha says, and a "wonderful star" called Ash.

But if her first film with an English-speaking role disappoints, Rai would lose much of her bargaining chips in Hollywood.

Another key factor that could come in her way of Hollywood dreams is that she doesn't want to move there permanently.

"Being visible in Hollywood means a lot," tennis player turned movie producer Ashok Amritraj, who had cast her in Jeans, had said last year. Big time actors can afford to live outside Hollywood, he said, but for someone from England or France looking for Hollywood roles, it was important to be seen and heard in the tinsel town. Nearly four decades ago, Shashi Kapoor failed to make inroads into Hollywood following Pretty Polly opposite Hayley Mills because he would not move to Hollywood or Britain. He had to be content with the films made by independent producers such as Ismail Merchant.

The only big Hollywood project Rai seems to be firming up now is the adventure drama Racing Monsoon, to be produced by Michael Douglas. But even in that film she will play an Indian character. Her big challenge will be to get a colourblind part or play a part other than South Asian in a big Hollywood production.

True, Rai has a part in the Meryl Streep film Chaos but the film doesn't look like a star-making vehicle for someone bound for Hollywood. Besides, it was announced two years ago and seems to have made no progress. Rai is credited as the lead actress in Roland Joffe's Singularity opposite Brendan Fraser, but details about the film's production schedule are not available.

 

Bollywood's Rai Filming Draws Attention

Bollywood film star Aishwarya Rai says she was taken aback by all the attention she received during the filming of "Bride & Prejudice," her first English-language movie, which premiers Friday.

The 1994 Miss World told the Daily News for a story in Sunday's editions that during scenes filmed in Amritsar, a dusty provincial city in northern India, unexpected crowds of locals arrived at the set.

"People just came in throngs and stood around," Rai said in a telephone interview from Bombay. "It was very overwhelming for my co-stars."

Director Gurinder Chadha added that more security was necessary.
"We thought we'd need a few extra police because of the crowds that wanted to see her," said Chadha, who also directed the hit "Bend It Like Beckham." "We weren't expecting that we'd need 400!"

"Bride & Prejudice" is a take on Jane Austen's novel "Pride and Prejudice" and features singing and Bhangra dancing.

Rai, India's most famous film star, has made more than 30 movies and is a spokesmodel for Coca-Cola, L'Oreal and DeBeers Diamonds.

 

Aishwarya Rai: India's magnificent obsession

Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai sets her sights on America

Aishwarya Rai is accustomed to adulation. After all, the emerald-eyed actress is India's most famous film star and the object of some 17,000 Web sites. Since being crowned Miss World in 1994, she has made more than 30 movies and become a spokesmodel for Coca-Cola, L'Oréal, Longines and DeBeers Diamonds. Celebrated for her grace and glamour, she's been described as the most beautiful woman in the world by none other than Julia Roberts.

But even Ash, as she is known, was amazed by the attention she received while making her first English-language movie, "Bride & Prejudice." The ebullient, all-singing, Bhangra-dancing Bollywood-inspired take on Jane Austen's novel "Pride and Prejudice" opens Friday .

The scenes filmed in Amritsar, a dusty provincial city in Northern India, were mobbed by locals. "People just came in throngs and stood around," says Rai, reached on the phone in Bombay. "It was very overwhelming for my co-stars."

"We thought we'd need a few extra police because of the crowds that wanted to see her," adds director Gurinder Chadha, whose "Bend It Like Beckham" was a smash hit. "We weren't expecting that we'd need 400! We were like, 'You've got to be kidding!'"

So dense were the masses that Chadha had to whittle her wish list of images. "I would have liked to have shot Ash on the back of a rickshaw," she says, "but there was no way we could shoot with her actually on the street. And we couldn't do the big wide shots because there were so many people who thought Ash might be there. She's so huge, and there are so many people in India and they just wanted to come and gawk."

While Rai is recognized wherever she goes in Bombay, she can easily pass incognito in Los Angeles. Truth is, most Americans have never heard of her. With the release of "Bride" and more than five English-language movies in the pipeline, that's destined to change.

The big question is whether Rai, who has never even kissed a co-star in an Indian movie, will do so in a Western movie (the closest she got in "Bride" was nuzzling co-star Martin Henderson).

"We don't want to offend our audiences, so there's embracing but no kissing," explains Priya Joshi, an associate professor of English at the University of California at Berkeley who's writing a book about popular Hindi movies. "But these are hyper-sexy films; they're not prudish. Hindi film is famous for its dance sequences and they're extremely suggestive in a non-raunchy way. A wet sari has become the way in which female flesh is displayed.

 

Aishwarya Rai: Mixing With Meryl

"I do recognize that this is a huge topic of discussion," admits Rai, who has said she is willing to discuss kissing scenes if the director considers them "imperative." "I don't believe in shedding my clothes to get attention or to create media buzz or to apparently make a movie more watchable. I look at it that you really work within your comfort zone and that's where conviction comes in. It's really about the roles themselves."

Rai recently wrapped "Taj Mahal: The Great Indian Experience," India's first IMAX film. She played Queen Mumtaz Mahal, for whom the extraordinary monument to love was built. Upcoming Hollywood parts include a battered prostitute in "Chaos," with Meryl Streep, and a mysterious spice shop owner in "Mistress of Spices," which will mark the directorial debut of Paul Mayeda Berges, Chadha's American husband. She has also committed to Roland Joffe's "Singularity," with Brendan Fraser; "Windfall," about 1984's devastating industrial disaster in Bhopal, India, and has tentatively agreed to star in "Ladies Night."

Last month, Michael Douglas traveled to Bombay and talked to Rai about working with her in his upcoming adventure flick, "Racing the Monsoon." "I'd be happy to be a part of the project," says Rai, who has just a hint of an Indian accent. "They've been really sweet and respectful. They said you have a right to see the final draft of the project. I guess they'll go through the formalities."

Despite her many Western roles, Rai has no plans actually to move to Hollywood. "Home has been Bombay, and I don't see any reason for any kind of permanent shift," she says.

Born in 1973, Rai grew up in Bombay, the daughter of a teacher and a chief marine engineer in India's merchant navy. With her hypnotic green eyes, honey-colored skin and heart-shaped mouth, she turned heads even as a little girl. In college, she landed her first modeling assignment, for Palmolive. The gorgeous teen quickly became one of India's most famous faces, representing several top brands. She appeared in her first movie in 1991.

At 21, she won the Miss World pageant and shortly afterward pledged her remarkable peepers to science. Her rise coincided with that of "New Bollywood," a generation of actors, writers, producers and directors determined to make better movies than the stereotypical, corny and often repetitive Hindi fare.

"Production values have improved, settings have improved and the stories are more Western," notes professor Joshi.

Rai's Romantic Troubles

Out of this creative shift was born "Devdas," Sanjay Leela Bhansali's heartbreaking musical drama about a romance destroyed by the caste system. In 2002, Rai won best actress at the International Indian Film Academy Awards for her portrayal of the lovelorn heroine.

In many ways, Rai is like any Western businesswoman. She works around the clock, helps negotiate her deals and has added "producer" to her résumé. At 31, she's unmarried, but has had several highly publicized relationships with Bollywood heartthrobs, including Salman Khan, a hunky action hero who was reportedly abusive to her, and Vivek Oberoi, an actor several years her junior. In one unsavory incident that thrilled the press, Khan made 41 threatening phone calls in one night to his rival Oberoi.

Despite the gossip, Rai remains a dutiful daughter who lives with her parents. In that way, she is similar to Lalita Bakshi, the character, based on Austen's Elizabeth Bennet, whom she plays in "Bride & Prejudice."

"I do definitely relate to her as someone who takes pride in being Indian in roots, culture and tradition," said Rai, who gained 20 pounds to make Lalita look more like a regular Punjabi girl. "She's strong-willed and yet emotionally vulnerable."

If Rai is vulnerable, she doesn't show that side to the public. A savvy operator, she joined Hollywood's powerhouse talent agency CAA and refuses to discuss her private life.

If all goes as planned, the so-called Queen of Bollywood will become, as Indian director Mira Nair puts it, "the next Penelope Cruz." The Spanish star, however, does sex scenes.

"I'm willing to put money," says professor Joshi, "on the fact that Ash will kiss when she comes to Hollywood."

Aishwarya Rai: Careful Julia, look out Nicole

Will Aishwarya Rai, Indian cinema's reigning queen, conquer America? We asked members of New York's Indian community what they think.

"Everybody loves Aishwarya. She's beautiful and a great actress, like Kate Winslet," said Nazma Newaz, 45, a clerk at an Indian fashion store in Jackson Heights, Queens. "I'd like to see her star in some Hollywood movies."

Sunny Mann, a 24-year-old video store manager, echoed the sentiment: "She's the best actress in Bollywood. She'll do well over here just on her beauty alone. She has those amazing eyes."

"Did you see Aishwarya on the '60 Minutes' show?" K. Baarikh, 52, asked. "She's the No. 1 beauty in the world. If she comes here it would be very nice."
But some people were not as enthusiastic about Rai's impending arrival on American screens.

"She's just an okay actress, and I don't think she's that attractive," said Rishit Mehta, 28, a chef from New Delhi. "Ash can dance and sing all right. But for me, it has to be Sushmita Sen. She's much more talented and a lot nicer looking."

Jackson Heights resident Aruna Narayan, 32, said of Rai: "She's not popular because of her acting, it's just her looks. She can be irritating when she giggles and sighs all the time. I don't think she'd do that well in movies here."

Barisa Sahel, an 18-year-old student from Jackson Heights, said: "In looks, she's the top Bollywood actress, but in acting, she's not the best."
But when asked about the impact Rai's unconventional beauty might have on the often Anglocentric standards of Hollywood, Sahel noted: "She definitely has a different look than what you'd normally see. It would be great if she became recognized here. It would be a nice thing to happen to the whole of Asia."

Flushing resident Shumy, 37, however, feels this is unimportant: "She does not need Hollywood to launch her career. Even if she isn't accepted here, she is still thebiggest actress in the world."

 

Aishwarya Rai to join Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan in an item number!

Movie buffs can now catch Bachchan Sr. and Jr. doing a tango together for a qawali number in Shaad Ali's "Bunty Aur Babli" produced by Yash Raj Films.

The duo would be accompanied by none other than Aishwarya Rai who has been convinced by Aditya Chopra to do the number. The only item number she did before was with Shah Rukh Khan in Boney Kapoor's "Shakti" and she was paid a whooping amount for that one.

 

Aishwarya Rai: Queen of Bollywood


This former Miss World with the captivating blue-green eyes has captured the hearts and imagination of millions of male admirers in her native India. Aishwarya Rai may not be well known outside of Asia, but we think it's only a matter of time (and perhaps a role in a Western film) before India's jewel becomes the whole world's darling. Aishwarya was crowned Miss World in 1994. She had previously done some modeling, and became well known in India after appearing in an ad for Pepsi. Since winning the Miss World title, she has become one of the most popular stars of India's huge film industry known as Bollywood.

Aishwarya Rai is one of the most recognizable names and faces in her native land. Her incredible beauty and grace have taken her to the top as a model, actress and general superstar in India and other Asian countries. She's almost considered a saint back home: During a trip to an orphanage, a child remarked that the warmth of her kindness was more radiant than her beauty
On the world stage, she has appeared in the pages of international fashion magazines, and beat out all the other beauties who participated in 1994's Miss World pageant. Despite all her positivity and achievements, Ash (as she's also known) claims that she's still paranoid about being an underachiever. From what we've learned about her, she's certainly no Bart Simpson.

Ash comes from a traditional southern Indian family with traditional values; despite her access to a very glamorous lifestyle, she's happiest spending time with her family and close friends. She abhors gossip and hypocrisy, and considers her willingness to take people at face value as her ultimate weakness. Aishwarya considers her sense of self-assurance to be one of her strong points. She admires strength of character in others, and is turned on by "razor sharp intelligence and witty repartee."

A bright woman, she considered a career in medicine and opted instead for architecture, until modeling and winning beauty pageants got in the way of her studies. She speaks a number of languages, including English, Hindi, Kannada, and a bit of Tamil. She possesses a naturalness in front of the camera, and has successfully managed to move from modeling to acting. Ash is also a terrific dancer, which is a major asset for anyone hoping to make it in the world of Bollywood musicals.

Aishwarya's seductiveness is subtle and understated. This 5'7" stunner claims she doesn't need to diet to maintain her foxy physique. Her full, luscious lips, sexy curves and ultra-feminine mannerisms give her top marks in this category.

Some advice for potential suitors: Ash's idea of sexy is a combination of vulnerability and intelligence. She claims that witty conversation turns her on more than anything else. And learning to speak a couple of exotic languages could only increase one's chance of making a positive impression upon her.

Ash won the Ford Supermodel Contest at the age of seventeen, and has been on a roll ever since. She began her professional career as a model in several high-profile advertising campaigns in her native India. A particular Pepsi ad helped make her a household name back home. Her modeling led to a successful run in the world of beauty pageants. After she became the runner-up in the 1994 Miss Femina World contest (as Miss India), Aishwarya won the Miss World title later that same year.

Since successfully crossing over into the Indian film industry in the second half of the '90s, Aishu (her other nickname) has appeared in almost two dozen films over a six-year period, making her a more prolific actress than most Western movie stars. In her native land, she was chosen as India's Screen Best Female Newcomer for 1997. She followed that up by winning the Filmfare Award for Best Actress in 1999's Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, and Screen Weekly's Best Actress in 2000. Her modeling career hasn't completely been eclipsed by her screen success; she became the international ambassador/spokeswoman for Longines watches in 1999.

This stunning specimen is a prime example of unadorned, 100% natural beauty. She relies on little or no makeup, and hasn't dyed her hair a lighter shade to feel more attractive. Aishwarya possesses breathtakingly delicate features and is known for her spectacular blue-green eyes (that sometimes take on a blue-gray shade). Her long, raven hair and inviting, warm smile make her all the more irresistible. It's no mystery to us why she is a former Miss World.

Ash's personal taste in fashion fluctuates from form-fitting gowns when she needs something formal, to jeans and a T-shirt when she wants to go casual. She likes to keep things simple: Ash doesn't like anything too "fussy and frilly" as she puts it, and as far as favorite colors go, she loves basic black. Aishwarya can make traditional Indian garments extremely sexy.

Aishwarya Rai Considers Kisses on Screen

Aishwarya Rai, one of the top stars of India's prim film industry, says she will not rule out kissing in films when she moves from Bollywood to Hollywood - although Aishwarya Rai says it is certain to create a fury among her fans.

In an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes," Aishwarya Rai, recently named by a British magazine as the world's most beautiful woman, danced around the subject of screen sex. She has never kissed on screen because kissing is taboo in the Indian cinema. Aishwarya Rai said if she did kiss someone on screen in a Hollywood movie, it would create a minor scandal among her fan.

"We'll cross the bridge when we reach it," Aishwarya Rai said, adding: "We'll work on the story, work on the scene. I'll work on the part and - and let's see.

Aishwarya Rai, 31, stars in the new British film "Bride and Prejudice," an adaptation of Jane Austen's classic tale, and is considering several projects that will bring her to Hollywood. Bride and Prejudice" will be released in US theatres soon. The British romantic movie, directed by Gurinder Chadha of “Bend It Like Beckham” combines elements of Indian and Western cultures.

Aishwarya Rai, a former Miss World, said that a kiss is not just a kiss in Bollywood movies, where song and dance routines are often metaphors for sex and passion.

Common misspellings: "Aishwarya Ray", "Aishwariya Rai".


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