Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, ಐಶ್ವರ್ಯಾ ರೈ, is an Indian actress and former Miss World. Before starting her acting career, she worked as a model and gained fame after winning the Miss World title in 1994. She born on 1 November 1973. During her career, Rai has acted in over 40 movies in Hindi, English, Tamil andBengali, which include a number of international productions.
Often cited by the media as the most beautiful woman in the world, Rai made her movie debut in Mani Ratnam’s Tamil film Iruvar (1997) and had her first commercial success in the Tamil movie Jeans (1998). She came to the attention of Bollywood in the movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Her performance in the film won her the Filmfare Best Actress Award. In 2002 she appeared in Bhansali’s next project, Devdas(2002), for which she won her second Filmfare Best Actress Award. After a low phase in her career during 2003–2005, she appeared in the blockbuster Dhoom 2(2006), which turned out to be her biggest Bollywood commercial success. She later appeared in films like Guru (2007), Jodhaa Akbar (2008), and Enthiran (2010) which were commercially and critically successful. Rai has thus established herself as one of the leading contemporary actresses in the Indian film industry. In 2009, she was honoured with the Padma Shri by the Government of India.
Rai was born in Mangalore to Krishnaraj Rai and Vrinda Rai. She has one elder brother, Aditya Rai, who is an engineer in the merchant navy and has also co-produced one of Rai’s movies, Dil Ka Rishta (2003). At an early age her parents moved to Mumbai where she attended the Arya Vidya Mandir high school in Santa Cruz. Rai then entered Jai Hind College at Churchgate for one year, and then moved to Ruparel College in Matunga to finish her HSC studies. She planned to become an architect, and started studying architecture, but gave up her education to pursue a career in modelling. She can communicate in several languages, including her mother tongue Tulu, as well as Hindi, English, Marathi and Tamil.
Rai appeared on such shows as Late Show with David Letterman, and was the first Bollywood personality to appear on Oprah's "Women Across the Globe" segment. In 2005 Harpers and Queen's list of "Most Beautiful Women in The World" ranked her ninth. In May 2006 Aishwarya was featured in People Magazine as one of the "World's Most Beautiful People". The UK magazine Eastern Eye ranked her third in the list of "Asia's Sexiest Women" in 2006, and she was ranked eighth in 2009. In 2008 American television channel E!: Entertainment listed Aishwarya's eyes as the sexiest on their Sexiest Body Parts list. In 2009 she made appearances on Martha Stewart's show Martha and on the The Tyra Banks Show. In the same year Forbes listed Rai at 387th out of 1,411 actors on their list of the most bankable stars in Hollywood. She is the highest-ranked Indian actor on the list.
In 2009, Rai refused to accept the second-highest Order Of France, Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, as her father was suffering from a serious illness, and she wanted her whole family to attend the award ceremony. She is the fourth Indian actor after Sivaji Ganesan, Nandita Das, and Shahrukh Khan to be chosen for the award. Amitabh Bachchan was chosen for another Order Of France, the Legion of Honour. In June 2009 she was declared the Female Star of The Decade at the tenth International Indian Film Academy Awards, held in Macau. In December 2010 she was declared the "Actress of the Decade" at the BIG Star Entertainment Awards.
In March 2011 Rai was honoured by Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa at World Kannada Meet (Vishwa Kannada Sammelana) for her contributions to the arts. Later that month she was presented with the "Decade of Global Achievement Honour" by FICCI. She attended the 83rd Academy Awards, along with her husband, Abhishek.
In 2005 she was the subject of a 60 Minutes profile on 2 January, which said that "at least according to thousands of Web sites, Internet polls and even Julia Roberts", she was "the world's most beautiful woman". The same year, a tulip in the Netherlands was named "Aishwarya Rai" after her. Also in 2005, Mattel released a limited edition of Barbie dolls of Aishwarya Rai in the United Kingdom. The British magazine Maxim ranked Rai first on their list of "Hottest Women of India"
Aishwarya Rai is a two-time winner of the Filmfare Best Actress Award, and has been nominated for Filmfare Awards eleven times. She has won numerous times at the International Indian Film Academy Awards, Star Screen Awards, Zee Cine Awards, and others. In 2009 Rai was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest Indian civilian award, for her contributions to Indian cinema. In 2001 Forbes named Rai among the top five Indian movie stars. In a reader poll conducted by UK's Hello! magazine, she was voted "the most attractive woman of 2003". In the same year, Rai appeared in Rolling Stone magazine's annual "Hot List". In 2004 she was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the world's most influential people, and appeared on the cover of its 2003 Asia edition. In October 2004 a wax figure of Rai was put on display in London's Madame Tussaud's wax museum. She was the sixth Indian and the second Bollywood personality after her father-in-law, Amitabh Bachchan to get this honour. In 2007 the same figure was displayed at Madame Tussaud's Museum in Times Square in New York.
In 1999 Aishwarya began dating Bollywood actor Salman Khan; their relationship was often reported in the media until the couple separated in 2001. Rai cited "abuse (verbal, physical and emotional), infidelity and indignity" on the part of Khan as reasons for ending the relationship. In a 2009 Times of India article, Khan denied ever beating her: "It's not true that I hit a woman."
Rai is married to actor Abhishek Bachchan, they met in 1997. Their engagement was announced on 14 January 2007 and later confirmed by his father, Amitabh Bachchan. The couple married on 20 April 2007 according to traditional Hindu rites of the Bunt community, to which she belongs. Token North Indian and Bengali ceremonies were also performed. The wedding took place in a private ceremony at the Bachchan residence, "Prateeksha", in Juhu, Mumbai. They have been described as a supercouple in the Indian media. Rai is very close to her family and lived with them in Bandra, Mumbai, until her marriage. Rai is Hindu and deeply religious.
Rai gave birth to a baby girl on 16 November 2011. Her daughter became quite popular by the name of "Beti B" which was christened by the fans and the media, since the couple took over four months to name their daughter. The baby girl was finally named as Aaradhya Bachchan in March 2012.
In 1999 Rai participated in a world tour called the Magnificent Five, along with Aamir Khan, Rani Mukerji, Akshaye Khanna, and Twinkle Khanna. In the same year, she was appointed as Longines Ambassador of Elegance. In 2003 she became the first Indian actress to be a jury member at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2003 she became a global brand ambassador of L'Oréal, alongside Andie MacDowell, Eva Longoria, and Penélope Cruz. Rai is the brand ambassador for The Eye Bank Association of India's nationwide campaign to promote eye donation in India. In 2005 she became a brand ambassador for Pulse Polio, a campaign established by the Government of India in 1994 to eradicate polio in India. In the same year, Rai was appointed spokesperson for the International Year of Microcredit, raising awareness of the main goals and priorities of the United Nations' poverty alleviation efforts.
In February 2005 Rai performed alongside other Bollywood stars at the HELP! Telethon Concert, an event to raise money for the victims of the 2004 tsunami earthquake. Along with other members of the Bachchan family, she laid the foundation of a special school for underprivileged girls in Daulatpur village in Uttar Pradesh in 2008. Construction is being funded by the Bachchan family, and the school will be named after Rai. She appeared along with various other Bollywood actors at the closing ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. The performance showcased Indian culture as a lead-up to India hosting the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
In 2009 Rai was appointed as the first Goodwill Ambassador of Smile Train, an international charity that provides free Cleft lip and palate surgery to children in need. Her work with Smile Train will focus not only on India, but on 76 different developing countries around the world.
Rai paired with Rajinikanth in the science fiction Tamil film Enthiran (2010), directed by S. Shankar. The film—the most expensive ever made in India—was released worldwide in 2010, and is the highest-grossing Indian film when all its versions are totalled. She appeared in Vipul Shah's Action Replayy opposite Akshay Kumar, which received mixed reviews from critics. Rai's final release in 2010 was Guzaarish, her third collaboration with director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and actor Hrithik Roshan. The film tells the story of Ethan Mascarenhas (Roshan), a former magician who has been quadriplegic for twelve years; after years of struggle he files an appeal to the court for euthanasia. Rai played Ethan's strict, devoted, and supportive nurse Sophie D'Souza. The film opened to positive reviews, and Rai's portrayal was praised. According to Nikhat Kazmi, "Aishwarya is a stunning picture of fire and grace, walking away with certain scenes by her sheer vitality." In 2011 she received her ninth nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress. As of May 2011, she is set to appear in Rajkumar Santoshi's next film, Ladies and Gentlemen, along with Abhishek Bachchan, and in Madhur Bhandarkar's next directorial venture, Heroine. The shooting of both films was postponed, due to Rai's pregnancy. She will not appear in Heroine, which is going forward with Kareena Kapoor.
In 2009 she appeared in Harald Zwart's spy comedy film The Pink Panther 2, playing the role of criminology expert Sonia Solandres. Like its predecessor, the sequel received negative reviews from critics, and did a moderate business of $34,590,360 at the U.S box office. In 2010 she collaborated with Mani Ratnam for a bilingual project, two films featuring Rai portraying a character based on the goddess Sita. The films were shot simultaneously, with Rai's role being one of the only roles which were played by the same performer in both versions. Upon release, the project received mixed reviews. Though both her portrayals of Ragini were praised, the Hindi version—Raavan, alongside Abhishek Bachchan—failed commercially, whilst the Tamil version—Raavanan—was successful. The Hindi version of the film got decent reviews in various US media, including the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, with the former saying, "Raavan has Bollywood glamour aplenty, with the lovely if occasionally dramatically challenged Aishwarya Rai Bachchan", and the latter describing Rai as a scene-stealer.
In 2008 Rai starred alongside Hrithik Roshan in Ashutosh Gowariker's historical drama Jodhaa Akbar. The story is a partly fictionalised account of the life of Muslim Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, played by Roshan, and his Hindu wife Jodha Bai, played by Rai. The film was a critical and commercial success, earning revenues of over Rs 590 million domestically. Rai's performance in the film was praised by critics, with Rajeev Masand writing, "Aishwarya Rai is wonderfully restrained and uses her eyes expertly to communicate so much, making this one of her finest outings on screen". She earned her eighth nomination for Best Actress at the Filmfare Awards for her performance. Later that year she co-starred with husband Abhishek Bachchan and father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan in Ram Gopal Verma's Sarkar Raj, a sequel to his previous film, Sarkar. She plays the CEO of a major power company that is proposing a new power plant in rural Maharashtra. The film was a critical and commercial success.
In 2007 she appeared in Mani Ratnam's Guru as Sujata. Speculated to be based on the life of Indian businessman Dhirubhai Ambani, it is a rag to riches story about an ambitious small-town man who ends up as the owner of the biggest corporation in India. The film premièred at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto, Canada, the first Indian film to have a mainstream international premiere in that country. The film was critically acclaimed, and performed well at the box office. Critical reception for Rai was mixed. While Nikhat Kazmi from The Times of India wrote that she is "just okay, and fails to register the growth in her character", Rediff.com's Raja Sen described it as "arguably her finest performance, visible especially when she takes over the film's climax." Rai received her seventh Filmfare nomination for Best Actress for her performance. In the same year she starred alongside Naveen Andrews and Miranda Richardson in Jag Mundhra's British film Provoked, as Kiranjit Ahluwalia, an Non-resident Indian woman who kills her abusive husband after facing severe domestic violence. Rai received mostly positive reviews for her portrayal. It was screened in the Marché du Film Cannes Film Market during the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Ahluwalia sat next to Rai during the screening, reportedly holding her hand and sobbing during the most violent scenes. In the same year Rai appeared as a warrior from Kerala named Mira in Doug Lefler's epic film The Last Legion, alongside Sir Ben Kingsley, Colin Firth, and Thomas Sangster. The film was a critical failure.
In 2006 Rai portrayed the title role in J P Dutta's Umrao Jaan, the story of a courtesan and poetess from 19th-century Lucknow. The movie is the second adaptation of the Urdu novel Umrao Jaan Ada (1905), by Mirza Hadi Ruswa. Rai's work received mixed reviews, and the film was a critical and commercial failure. Critics particularly felt the new version is poor when compared to the acclaimed 1981 version by Muzaffar Ali, which starred Rekha in the title role. BBC critic Poonam Joshi wrote, "While only Aishwarya could emulate the grace and poise of Rekha, she doesn't quite capture the intensity of Umrao's abiding melancholy", commenting that "her incandescent beauty and artistry... does indeed keep the audience watching, though not necessarily emotionally engaged." Later that year she appeared as a master thief, Sunheri, in the Yash Raj Films production of Dhoom 2, directed by Sanjay Gadhvi. The ensemble cast included Hrithik Roshan, Abhishek Bachchan, Bipasha Basu, and Uday Chopra. The movie was a blockbuster, and became the highest grossing film of the year in India, earning revenues of over Rs 770 million domestically. A controversy arose regarding a scene containing a kiss between her and Hrithik Roshan. Rai's performance received mostly negative reviews, with a reviewer on Rediff.com writing, "Ash's character too is all gloss and no depth. You seldom feel any tension in her behaviour and expressions as she accompanies the master thief on potentially dangerous missions. Sunehri enters the film nearly 50 minutes after its opening in a disguise. In no time, she is wearing the flimsiest of clothes. Once she opens her mouth—and she does it two minutes after appearing in the film—she spoils the image. There is no sensuality any more, and half an hour later, one wonders what made the master thief fall for her." Nonetheless, her performance earned her a sixth nomination for Filmfare Best Actress Award.
In 2005 she appeared in Shabd, a film based on a love triangle, alongside Sanjay Dutt and Zayed Khan. The film was unsuccessful at the box office; it received average reviews from critics. Her next release was Paul Mayeda Berges's The Mistress of Spices, based on the novel of the same name by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, in which she starred alongside Dylan McDermott. The film received negative reviews from critics, and was a commercial failure. The same year she made a special appearance in a hugely popular seven-minute dance sequence for the song "Kajra Re", with Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan, in Shaad Ali's Bunty Aur Babli.
In 2004 she appeared alongside Martin Henderson in Bride and Prejudice, Gurinder Chadha's Bollywood-style English adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. She played Lalita Bakshi, the film's version of Austen's character Elizabeth Bennet. Based on 131 reviews, the film has a rating of 64 percent at the review website Rotten Tomatoes. She played a negative role for the first time in Rajkumar Santoshi's Khakee, which also featured Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan, and Jayapradha. The film was a box office success. In the same year she worked with director Rituparno Ghosh for the second time, in Raincoat, where she starred alongside Ajay Devgan. The film was highly acclaimed by critics, with Rai receiving rave reviews for her performance. The Hindu commented "Raincoat can easily be Aishwarya Rai's best performance, and as Neerja, the former beauty queen appears to have shed her inhibitions about looking unglamorous. What is more, she seems to have made an earnest effort to emote, using less of her body and limbs and more of her face, and eyes in particular".
In 2003 she acted in Rituparno Ghosh's Bengali film Chokher Bali, an adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore's novel of the same name. She portrays the character of a young woman called Binodini, who is left on her own when her sickly husband dies soon after they are married. Rai's performance in the film was well-received by critics, with "Derek Elley" from Variety writing, "Rai dominates the film with her delicately sensual presence and physical grace". The film was critically acclaimed and did well at the box office, That year she appeared in the Bollywood film Dil Ka Rishta, with Arjun Rampal, and Rohan Sippy's Kuch Na Kaho, alongside Abhishek Bachchan, neither of which fared well at the box office
In 2002 Rai appeared alongside Shahrukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas, an adaptation of Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel of the same name. She played the role of Paro (Parvati), the love interest of the protagonist, played by Khan. The film received a special screening at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. It became the highest-grossing film of the year in India and overseas, earning a revenue of Rs 390 million domestically.Devdas won numerous awards, including 10 Filmfare Awards, and Rai received her second Filmfare Best Actress Award for her performance.
In 2000 she appeared in Mansoor Khan's Josh alongside Shahrukh Khan and Chandrachur Singh, in which she plays a Catholic named Shirley who falls in love with the sibling of her brother's enemy. The film was a commercial success. Later that year she appeared in Satish Kaushik's Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai, opposite Anil Kapoor. It was a moderate success, and her performance earned her a Filmfare Best Actress Award nomination. Later that year she played a supporting role in Aditya Chopra's Mohabbatein, alongside Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan. The second-highest grosser of the year, the film was a major commercial success, and earned her a Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award nomination. Later that year, she starred in the Tamil film Kandukondain Kandukondain, alongside Mammooty, Ajith Kumar, and Tabu. Rai plays Tabu's younger sibling, a dreamer at heart, whose hopes come crashing down when she discovers she's been cheated by her lover. Directed by Rajiv Menon, the movie was a successful venture commercially.
In the 1999 she appeared in Subhash Ghai's Taal, in which she played Mansi, a young village woman who becomes a big pop star after being hurt by her lover, played by Akshay Khanna. The film was an average grosser in India but was a big success outside India, especially in the United States, where it became the first Indian film in the top 20 on Variety's box office list. Her performance was praised, with a reviewer from Rediff.com writing, "After being praised for her looks and acting talent in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Aishwarya has excelled in Taal. She looks ethereal and unlike the former film, has a very sober and soft role. Though she looks pained and tragic in most of the film, she does a good job of a woman who is very protective of her father and one who doesn't think twice before rejecting a lover who has insulted her father." She received another Best Actress nomination from the Filmfare Awards for her work in the film.
In 1999 Rai starred in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, opposite Salman Khan and Ajay Devgan. The film had Rai playing Nandini, who is forced to marry Devgan despite being in love with another man (Khan). Her husband tries to help her locate her previous love, and his caring attention eventually wins her over. Rai's portrayal won her critical acclaim, with a review on Rediff.com stating, "Aishwarya looks beautiful as usual ... This film will most likely draw her accolades from all over, may be even get her recognised as an actress the way Manisha Koirala did in Khamoshi. In many scenes, there is no trace of makeup and she looks very fresh". The film was her first box office success in Bollywood, and earned her a Filmfare Best Actress Award.
Rai made her acting debut in Mani Ratnam's Tamil biopic film Iruvar (1997), where she worked alongside Mohanlal. The film was a critical success and won many awards, including Best Film award at the Belgrade International Film Festival, and two National Film Awards. Rai appeared in dual roles, one of which was a depiction of political leader and former actress J. Jayalalithaa. Rai made her Bollywood debut in the film in Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya, opposite Bobby Deol, which released the same year; the film was unsuccessful at the box office. Her third project, Jeans (1998), a high-budget Tamil film directed by S. Shankar, was a commercial success. The film included the song "Poovukkul", written by Vairamuthu, in which Rai's character is compared to the seven wonders of the world and described as the eighth. The film was India's official entry to the Academy Awards in that year.
In the 1994 Miss India contest, she won second place, behind Sushmita Sen, and was crowned Miss India World. She went on to win the Miss World title the same year, where she also won the Miss Photogenic award. After winning the pageant, she gave up her studies and spent one year reigning as Miss World in London. Rai continued to pursue a career as a model until she became an actress.
Rai became popular after appearing in a Pepsi commercial with actor Aamir Khan. She modelled for Longines watches, Coca-Cola, Lakmé Cosmetics, Casio pager, Philips, Palmolive, Lux, and Fuji films. She continued to model while pursuing her studies in architecture. She was named the official brand ambassador for De Beers diamonds in India.
One of her earliest modelling assignment was, when she was in the ninth grade, for Camlin Pencils. One of her professors at Jai Hind College took pictures of her which were published in a fashion magazine. In 1991 Rai took part in the Ford Supermodel Contest and also appeared in Vogue Magazine. She has been on the cover of Vogue three times.