Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who turns a year older on Sunday November 1, shares some birthday thoughts with Subhash K Jha.
It’s your 16th birthday?
(Bursts out laughing) Your lenses need to be changed. I know how old I am and I don’t need to pretend to be younger. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all my well-wishers. They’ve never let me down. I am so thankful to them for giving so much love to me and to my daughter.
You have a unique place in the people’s heart. How aware are you of this?
I’d be blind not to see it. I feel it all the time. As for my sense of responsibility I thank my parents for bringing me up with the right values. I was aware of my responsibilities from the day I became part of the entertainment industry. I’d like to pass on my values to Aaradhya. I never had to be told the dos and don’ts.
You’re considered the epitome and metaphor of beauty. Does that get boring?
People pay me a compliment by calling me beautiful and I say, thank you very much. But I have to be considered beautiful from inside. That’s my definition of beauty. If I am called beautiful for who I am then I truly treasure it. Blessedly even when my beauty is mentioned my performances are not ignored. I don’t feel my looks have overshadowed my work
You don’t look your age at all and neither does it seem like five years since you were last seen on screen?
Oh my God! You’re so right. We keep talking about my absence from acting for three years because Aaradhya is 3 going on 4. But before I came back with Jazbaa I hadn’t faced the camera for nearly five years. It was Abhishek who pointed out that the last time I faced was for Guzaarish five years ago. I’d have never imagined time could fly by so fast.
When you faced the camera after your return did you feel any difference?
None at all. I guess once an artiste always an artiste. Actors never take a break. When they do they suddenly feel their world to be so different. But in my case it was not a break I was doing something else that consumed me completely. I was so blissed-out in my duties of motherhood that I didn’t know how and when time flew by and there I was reading another script doing another film.
What was like to do the first shot after the return?
I remember after the first shot for Jazbaa all of us, Irrfan, Sanjay Gupta, cinematographer Sameer Arya looked at one another. I said, ‘Done’ and we all cracked up. It was just another day at work. No creases and hassles at all. But there was so much love and support all around. And that’s what I’d like to remember.
Can you recall any incident of stress during any of your shooting?
When Madhuri Dixit and I were dancing to ‘Dola Re Dola’ in Devdas, there was so much pressure on us about out-performing one another that we purposely messed up the first shot. Then we looked at one another said, ‘That’s done. Now let’s get on with the dancing.’
Your birthday thoughts?
Thank you for everything. The accolades, the comeback, Padma Shri, my daughter and husband. I never took the comfortable route. When I made unusual choices with directors like Rituparno Ghosh people said I was going off the mainstream route. But today those films like Raincoat and Chokher Bali are mentioned the most.
If you had one birthday wish?
I’d want Rituparno Ghosh back. I can’t tell you how much I miss him. Treasured and revered in Bengal. If he was here he would have been celebrated in Hindi cinema. If well planned no film needs to flop. I can today do a Devdas and a Jazbaa side by side without either losing money.