The timeless beauty of Bollywood, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan turns 44 today and still remains one of the most beautiful and sought-after actresses. The star hasn’t just made her mark on Indian cinema but her influence and aura can be felt far beyond the borders of her home country. Her journey to becoming one of India’s most decorated stars is marked by epic performances and landmark life events.
Aishwarya’s entry to the world of glamour began with her walk on the ramp when she was crowned Miss World at the Miss World pageant in 1994, a moment in history that put India on the world map. The road the Bollywood wasn’t far from there. While the actress made her acting debut in Mani Ratnam's Tamil film Iruvar in 1997 opposite south superstar Mohanlal, her first Bollywood release came in the form of Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya that same year. It wasn’t until two years later in 1999 that she got a breakthrough with Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, where she starred opposite her then-boyfriend Salman Khan. The film was not just a huge commercial, it got Aishwarya her first Filmfare Award for Best Actress. The film marked a turning point in her Bollywood career after which the green-eyed actress got blockbuster films like Taal, Mohabbatein, Devdas, Jodhaa Akbar and Guru.
Even as fame and fortune began pouring in for the star back home, international offers were beginning to woe her. Aishwarya signed her first overseas film with Gurinder Chadha's British film, Bride and Prejudice, opposite Martin Henderson. A dozen Hollywood studios were making a bee-line for the star post the massive success of the film. Aishwarya went on to do a few more international films like The Mistress of Spices, Provoked and Pink Panther.By the mid-2000s, Aishwarya had her foot firmly and bravely planted as an international celebrity. She tread where no other Indian actress had dared to venture. Since 2002, the year Devdas was screened at the Cannes Film Festival, Aishwarya has been a permanent fixture at the world’s most prestigious film festival. Over the last 15 years, Aishwarya has awed and stunned audiences worldwide with her poise and grace. From taking baby steps at the Cannes red carpet, being the first Indian to feature on the Oprah Winfrey Show, being appointed as the Goodwill Ambassador for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS to becoming a flawless global icon, Aishwarya journey has been nothing short of sensational.
Bang in the middle of taking on the world, Aishwarya’s personal life was also looking bright. After two rocky relationships with Bollywood-family stars Salman Khan and Vivek Oberoi, the actress fell in love with her Guru co-star Abhishek Bachchan, a love that blossomed right on the sets of the blockbuster Mani Ratnam film. Guru is also that film that saw career- defining stellar performances by both Aishwarya and Abhishek.
Post her marriage to Abhishek Bachchan in 2007, Aishwarya’s cinematic appearances have been far and few between and further dropped after the couple had their first child, Aaradhya, in 2011. After her child's birth, the actress took a 5-year sabbatical only to return with a strong role in Jazbaa but the movie did not do that well. She then bagged the role of Sarabjit's sister, an authored role but according to the critics, her on-screen brother Randeep Hooda's performance overshadowed her's. She then decided to go for her friend Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil in which she has a limited but significant role. While her decision to be selective with her work may leave her fans in the lurch, Aishwarya remains a very bankable asset to the industry.
Today, as she turns 44, the actress is in a league of her own. Not to be threatened by peers or left unsought after in an era of resounding younger talent. Whether on home ground or international soil, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is a force to be reckoned with.