Patcy N in Mumbai
What keeps Aishwarya Rai Bachchan going, when most of her contemporaries seem to have vanished from the spotlight?
The actress has been a part of the biggest releases of the year -- Raavan/ Raavana, Endhiran/ Robot, Action Replayy and Guzaarish), a rare act for a 37-year-old married woman.
And going by Ash's stunning looks in all the films, we can expect a lot more from her.
In a candid chat with Patcy N, Ash spoke about her life in front of the camera, and the one behind, at home.
Congrats on the success of Endhiran. The film did very well worldwide.
Thank you very much. The entire team of Endhiran is ecstatic and very thankful to all the viewers for making it a success. Endhiran was really an incredible effort by the whole team.
Shankar (director) had incredible conviction about this film. Even the producers invested wonderfully to help us out in creating this piece of cinema. More than anything there was Rajni sir. I am thankful for the experience of working on this film.
'We did not refer to any one particular actor or actress for Action Replayy'
In your next film, Action Replayy, you play a character of the 1970's. Which actress of that era was the inspiration behind Mala?
We did not refer to any one particular actor or actress from that period. We kind of took a little bit from everybody to create Mala.
Mala is not a direct reference of any one particular actor's performance of that time. When it came to acting, Vipul (Shah, director) spoofed it up a bit to make it more of an in-your-face kind of acting. For example, Maya is loud and boisterous as well as coy. So it is a little spoof that Vipul wanted to create for the film.
'I always follow the director's lead'
What kind of research did you do for your character? Did you enlist your in-laws' help? After all, they were stars of that era...
Actually, no. Pa (Amitabh Bachchan) has always said that their body of work speaks for itself. So I don't need to actually sit with them to list out any references.
As fas as research is concerned, I always follow the director's lead. I follow my director's idea of the character. Once you know what your director is looking for, then you can bring forth your own contribution and ideas. That's what I do.
'I am multi-faceted'
In this movie you also play a 50 plus married woman. Was it tough to play an elderly character with a 20-year-old son?
Today, women are more self conscious. We portrayed that in the film as well. My hair is not totally grey in the movie. Manish (Malhotra, fashion designer) also styled the saris in a particular way.
In this day and age, 50 plus is not elderly. Just look around you, people in their 50s don't look old.
Yes, I play a mother to a 20-year-old son in the film. But as he goes back in time, our relationship is more like that of friends rather than a mother-son. Most times it was funny. One minute we were joking and the next he would call us mom and dad. So it was weird but fun at the same time.
You're said to play a tomboy character in the film. Are you the same in real life as well?
You will have to ask the people in my life about that. I will just say that I am multi-faceted.
'Akshay knows which hair piece would look goofy'
You have acted with Akshay in Khakee and now you are working with him again. How has he changed as a co-star?
To start with, I shouldn't be judging him because he is my senior. I'm glad to work with him. I wished we could have worked on more films together but because of our busy schedules we couldn't.
Akshay is great fun to work with. He makes everything look effortless. You wouldn't know from looking at his performance but everything he does is thought through. He even comes up with suggestions for improvisations. He knows which hair piece would look goofy and how to use it. He also knows his angles brilliantly. He improvises nuances, dance steps, songs and brings a lot of energy. He also comes up with ideas for comedy moments.
His enthuiasm rubs off on everyone which is good because making a fun film like this needs a certain fun atmosphere.
'Vipul was very clear about what he wanted for the film'
Vipul has directed and acted in this play in Gujarati long back. What kind of inputs did he give you?
Since he had directed the play before and knew the story, he was clear about what he wanted for the film.
Akshay and I wanted to make some improvisations in some things which Vipul accepted when he thought it would help the story. But for the most part, he was clear about what he wanted.
'If people don't like a movie, they will move on'
Action Replayy releases with Golmaal 3. The Golmaal series have had a good run at the box office. Are you nervous?
No, I'm not. I know it makes for a great copy and a wonderful sensational headline that this film and that film are clashing or that this actor and that actor are clashing, but it's all just talk.
It's a Friday and films do get released. People will go to watch them. If they don't like a movie, they will move on. It's as simple as that.
'My Miss World year was by far the busiest'
What is the secret of behind your longevity in the industry?
I don't know but I am thankful that my directors have been giving me incredible work all through my career.
I wanted to be versatile when I started out and hoped to be doing films in different genres. I never really limited myself to any particular kind of film. I didn't want to be compartmentalised into a type of actor.
I think I broke the stereotype in the sense that I did not do regional cinema just because I wasn't getting work nor did I shun regional cinema because I had good work in Hindi. I did all genres that excited me. But I could only do it because my directors brought me that kind of work with wonderful memorable characters.
I am a very enthusiastic actor till date, and more than anything else, I am grateful to my audience for being so wonderfully generous, loving and accepting. The audience inspires me to want to keep exploring cinema.
You have been in the industry for 13 years. What are the lessons that you have learnt over the years?
It's been a long journey. My journey started right out of college. My Miss World year was by far the busiest. I dove right into films after that. Since then, it's been a whirlwind journey. Everyday is a learning experience. I just embrace each day.
'I came from a family with nobody from showbiz'
With such a hectic schedule, how do you find time for your family?
Family is an absolute priority. It is exceedingly precious and has always been even before I got married. So I make the time. I always have and will continue to do so.
I came from a family with nobody from showbiz, I've gotten into a family with everybody in showbiz. We all understand the dynamics. At the same time, all of us are so into each other that we all make the time despite a crazy, hectic and chaotic lifestyle.
Do you cook?
No, not enough. I did a bit of cooking during the grihapravesh. Since then I haven't had the opportunity. Once in a while Abhishek mentions something which I have tried to make.
'Motherhood will happen when it is meant to be'
Do you feel pressurised to become a mother?
No. I don't. I would love to become a mother and I genuinely believe it will be blessing from God and that's exactly the way we view it. It will happen when it is meant to be.
What are your plans for your birthday on November 1?
I will be busy with the promotions of my two releases, Action Replayy and Guzaarish. But I have kept some free time aside to spend with my family. Let's see how the day rolls out.