November 1st marked the 41st birthday of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, former Miss World, Indian film actress, philanthropist, mother & wife, and my role model. I dedicate this post to the woman who's inspired almost my every move thus far - literally!
Many of you may not know this about me (especially with the saturated posts about my health recently) but I've spent a good chunk of my life chasing the dream of becoming an actress – in particular, a “Bollywood” heroine. From a very early age, I became fascinated with the idea of being a triple threat – an actor, dancer, and singer all in one career. So, at the age of 4, I decided that's exactly what I was going to be. I pursued this career path up until the age of 22 having been classically trained as a Kathak dancer for 15 years, attended an acting institution in Mumbai, featured in 14 foreign language music videos, and took voice lessons for over a decade (dreadful). Most recently, I starred as the female lead in an English-language independent film titled Humble River. Yup...this is basically my best kept secret on my blog; the cat's out of the bag ;)
Back to the premise of the post. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan – also globally recognized as the most beautiful woman in the world - was one of the main reasons I really wanted to be a Bollywood actress. She's the epitome of sophistication, versatility and talent. Her name has become synonymous with beauty. Aishwarya's screen presence is unparalleled. Her graceful dance performances have left audiences in complete awe. Over her 20 year career, Aishwarya's been one of the most sought after artists in India, establishing herself as a muse to filmmakers, photographers and fashion designers. To me, she's not just a pretty face – she's a woman I've aspired to be like. She's one of the most influential women of our times - she is India's pride.
Alongside the abundance of praise, Aishwarya's also seen her fair share of negativity from a lot of haters over the years. It's amazing how much scrutiny Mrs. Bachchan faces; people love to pick on her. One of the reasons I admire her so much is because she's mastered handling flack from the media like no other. Seldom has she lost her cool or allowed any unfair criticisms (i.e. post-baby weight) bring her down.
In celebration of her birthday, I've organized a list of a few of Aishwarya's successes to simply illustrate how amazing she is (and especially to prove her haters wrong!)
- Won the Miss World crown in 1994
- Has acted in over 40 films (Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali)
- Was the 1st Indian to become a Jury Member of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in the early 2000's. She's been an internationally-highlighted attendee at the event since 2002.
- Appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 2003
- Became a global brand ambassador for L'oreal Paris in 2003 (she's also had brands like Longines, Pepsi, Fuji, De Beers on her resume)
- A tulip in the Netherlands was named after Aishwarya's beauty in 2005
- Featured on popular American shows including Oprah (twice – and even draped a sari on Ms. Winfrey), David Letterman, 60 Minutes, Good Morning America
- Was interviewed by Sir David Frost in 2012
- Her humanitarian work includes being the UN Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/AIDS, Smile Train, The Eye Bank of India, Polio, to name a few causes...
- Received the prestigious Padma Shri award from the Indian government
- Honored by the French government in 2013 with the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres)
After having spent most of my life (up until recently) being obsessed with Bollywood, I've gotta admit that I've completely lost interest. I can't believe these words are coming out of me considering I pursued a career in that industry for years. The majority of films nowadays are produced solely to make money; rarely do they showcase talent. It's become all about "the 100 crore" club and selling to the masses. For the most part, actresses have become mere eye candy. In my opinion, none of the actresses of the current lot come close to Aishwarya's caliber whether it's from a talent standpoint, aesthetics, or general demeanor. Though she hasn't been in a movie in over 4 years, she's managed to remain at the forefront of audiences' minds - now THAT is star power! Plus, which other Bollywood actress (or actor for that matter) say they've done all of the above?
Anyway, I wish Aishwarya the happiest of birthdays and even more success. She's the only celebrity I'd ever cry for if I met and yes, it'd be an absolute frikken dream come true if I did. I'll admit it, she's been my woman crush for 20 years. xx
PS. Here is a link to my “past life” - Enjoy ;)