“I am very grateful for all the opportunities I have had in my career as an actor. It was also something I sought when I started working. I was being welcomed into the industry even before I went for the Miss World pageant. I keep reiterating that Miss India was not a way to enter Bollywood because I had been getting offers before I went for the pageant.
At that time I was reluctant to enter Bollywood because I didn’t want to give up my studies,” she says, adding, “Later on, I learnt from my dear friend Rajeev that Mani wanted to cast me in Bombay, Dharmesh wanted me for Raja Hindustani, Yashji and Subhashji wanted to launch me. I had already been spoken to for these movies before I did Miss India. I had met Shekhar (Kapur) and he was making Bandit Queen at that time. He told me that I could get my degree but that I would come back to Bollywood. He told me that he had done his C.A. but he was making movies and he was sure that I would join movies too. Yashji used to tease me that I could do architecture, then designs sets for them and they would make me an actress. He told me that I would be in the movies. Everybody believed that I would be here, in Bollywood. After I did Miss World, I had six months off till college reopened and I started considering filmy offers. I am glad I took the plunge because I am so much at home, being an actor.”
Talking about her debut film, she says, “When I chose to work with Mani first in a Tamil film, I did not do it because I was not getting work in Bollywood. I wanted to break those myths. I like to break pre-conceived ideas. I am very thankful that the professionals I work with allow me to do that. Every girl wants to do that but sometimes your Destiny does not allow you to do that. I am glad I had the opportunity to kind of break myths. My first film, Iruvar was a Tamil film and not a typical launch film. I had two different roles to play and the film was not about me. I still chose to do it. People who watched Iruvar appreciated my work, irrespective of what people wrote after that in Bollywood. Many directors saw Iruvar and gave me good reviews. I tried to strike a balance between Tamil and Hindi movies but later on I did a Bengali film too.”
Talking about her Hollywood ventures, she says, “Much ado was made about me doing English films and moving to Hollywood. I have always been very clear that I did not move to Chennai or Calcutta so if my schedule allows it, I will do an English film.”
Aishwarya has been called the Princess of Cannes. “Cannes started with Devdas. The French have given me a fantastic welcome and a lot of love and a great platform and I am very thankful for it. The exposure is not limited to France. I have been to the Berlin Film Festival and it was insane and fabulous. The response has been similar in my other travels. I am thankful that life, opportunity and destiny have given me opportunities to broaden my horizons. I have a very strong international audience and that is very gratifying for me as an actor. It has strengthened my conviction of not treading the conventional path. I have not done films that are guaranteed super-hits and you know that the time you sign them. You know you work with banners and certain actors and aankh bandh karke, the film is a hit but I have tried to be different,” she smiles.
“In a year when I have many offers, I try to choose four different characters so that the audience gets to see a different Aishwarya. Obviously, fir har film ki apni kismat. If it is a hit, great, if not then at least I got to do something different and memorable. My audience has given me that freedom,” concludes Ash.