Precisely 21 years after she came into the limelight for winning the Miss World pageant (and almost a five-year-hiatus-from-Bollywood later), Aishwarya Rai Bachchan still manages to walk into a room full of spectators and leave them starstruck. Why? She has it all - the grace to make you fall, the charm to make you bend backwards and the power to make you listen with rapt attention. In an exclusive, bare-all interview with POPxo, this actor reveals how she made it this far. The best part? She makes it all seem achievable. Here’s what she says...
1. On surviving being in the public eye - in style!
“In terms of personal style, one thing that has always remained with me is comfort. A lot of times a photograph cannot communicate what is happening in your life at that moment. There might be a lot of things that go wrong, a bag you intended to use might not go with the outfit planned, a seam might come apart, the pants might not fit; taking all of that into account, a stylist’s job is very important but doesn’t define you or your style. If an outfit is disastrous people don’t take the circumstances that went into putting those outfits together into account.”
2. On making a comeback
“Time has flown me by and possibly not at the same pace as everybody, but if people have recognised that a lot of time has gone by before my comeback then I have to say, ‘thank you for missing me.” It didn’t technically feel like a break because I have been busy with brand associations, talking to filmmakers and so many other things. Plus, a baby is a handful and more.”
3. On weaving your life situation into your career - and making it work!
“The subject matter of Jazbaa is something I would’ve done five years before or five years hence. I would’ve been as convincing in the role of a mother then as I am now. The only difference is five years ago I would’ve been acting out a mother differently because it would’ve been out of my imagination.
“Today, I think I just bring more integrity to the role in terms of recognising emotions because I am a mother myself. There is a truth in tonality and nuancing that I bring to the role of a mother in Jazbaa. And as a mother I hope no mother ever has to go through such a situation (of losing a child). I know where Anuradha Verma (her character in the film) is coming from. I wouldn’t wish it upon my enemy.”
4. On re-entering the business with an “unconventional” partner!
“It was fab working with Irrfan. We have a very comfortable rapport and that translates on screen. He’s not about small talk. He has a quiet sense of humour which works so great. The way he delivers his lines is an extension of who he is - an easy guy who is deep and has a sense of humour at the same time. It was a very easy give and take on set with Irrfan.”
5. On building - and sustaining - something
“Long-Standing Relationships Require Commitment.” The proof is in the pudding when it comes to my experience with Longines. It has been a sixteen-year-long association and this is one of the longest brand associations I have had. The reason we have lasted together is because the brand is exactly who I am as a person - subtle and sophisticated. It’s all about the attitude and staying committed and that takes a lot of strength and willingness to give."
6. On growing, evolving, balancing
“Change is the only constant and evolution is a good thing. One moment you’re in college, the next you’re a celebrity and you’re on various platforms. Experience is all that counts be it in your craft or in your life; it is the greatest tool one can be equipped with. Go for things that interest you and for everything you believe in. Evolution and commitment is the only way I find my inner joy and bliss to balance family life with a busy career.”