Aishwarya Rai: The return of the queen?
The Queen of Bollywood, and one of the most beautiful women in the world, talks for the first time about courting controversy on-screen, her weight, and whether she will return to film.
Sir David Frost travels to Mumbai to meet Aishwarya Rai, one of Bollywood's biggest stars.
Rai discusses her rapid rise to fame: “I was virtually invited into the industry with very good assignments.” She also talks, for the first time, about her first on-screen kiss, saying: “You're going to get me to talk about something I haven't, in any of my interviews.”
After much acclaim at home, Hollywood came calling for her global pulling power. But her conservative Indian background held her back from raunchier roles. Rai tells Sir David why she turned down a chance to star opposite Brad Pitt in Troy: “The very material on celluloid involved a lot of lovemaking scenes that I wasn't comfortable with.”
She married into Bollywood's most famous family. But when Rai became a mother four years later her fans turned on her for failing to lose weight quickly after the birth of her baby. “I was comfortable and that's why I've been who I've been. If I did think it was a big deal I would've been in hiding or would've done something about it,” she says. And, over a meal together, she tells Sir David: “I've never dieted. Never.” She talks about her favourite home cooked meal, and introduces Sir David to Indian cuisine.
Rai talks about India's new middle class and its burgeoning desire for more real-life films tackling taboo topics. “We have a lot going on creatively. It's a very interesting time because the audience is diverse and the opportunity is tremendous,” she says.
And, she tackles the question all of her fans want an answer to. After a two-year break from the big screen, will she return? “I'd love to.” But, she cautions: “The day I'm bored, if it does not excite me I will not make the time.”
She sits down with Sir David in the heart of Bollywood to talk about her life, address her fans' criticisms and explore the role of new Indian cinema.