Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Jan 5 (IANS)
Aishwarya Rai says she has gone through enough in life
to feel the part of the self-deluding, frustrated and
defeated housewife she plays in Rituparno Ghosh's elegiac
She's done it! After a string of no-no's, Aishwarya has
delivered a walloping performance in the film.
In the right hands Aishwarya is always up to challenges.
I've seen the performances Mani Ratnam, Rajiv Menon,
Rituparno Ghosh and Sanjay Leela Bhansali have got out of
her in the past.
Yup, given a chance she could have a histrionic blast. The
only problem is the beauty. So overpowering is her image as
the country's number one brand ambassadress that we tend to
discount, if not entirely dismiss, her bravura attempts to
get into character.
In "Raincoat", Aishwarya, in some ways, goes beyond what she
did in Ghosh's "Chokher Bali". It isn't because here she's
required to be contemporary and rustic. Nor do I think it's
because in "Raincoat" she was able to dub her lines in a
language she understood.
It's more to do with her hunger to prove herself. All Ash
has heard in the last one year is that she's a plastic
as she sits over a volcano of praise she can afford to
smile. "This whole beauty thing is so redundant. It's the
people around me who have a problem with my looks. It's they
who allow it to come in the way of assessing my
performances. I never thought about how to consciously
diminish my looks while playing Niroo in 'Raincoat'. Sure,
she's washed-out and faded. But when I decided to put dark
circles around my eyes Ajay told me to take it easy. 'No one
does all this,' he warned me. But I was just being in
In fact, being in character was a constant issue on the sets
of "Raincoat". Ghosh not only padded Aishwarya Rai to
indicate a life gone to flab, he also made her wear homespun
underclothes to 'feel' the part.
The actress blushes at her brush with method acting. "That's
true. Ritu and I went all out and all in," she giggles her
characteristic giggle, and then sobers down.
felt a deep sense of empathy for my character in 'Raincoat'.
She isn't really poor. She can still afford silk saris and
gold jewellery. But, god, what a frighteningly wretched
What about those who say she cannot feel her character's
abject misery. "Why?" she shoots back. "Because I haven't
known hunger and financial insecurity? Because I haven't
been married to an insensitive man? Believe me, I've gone
through enough in life to feel what Niroo has gone through."
A look of haunted pensiveness passes through her immaculate
face. "People said I giggled too much. What was I supposed
to do? Cry and show my bleeding heart in public? To hide
what I was going through I had to laugh my way through the
Fortunately 'the crisis' has blown over.
Now the time has come for Aishwarya to let the world know
she's no Barbie doll. Sure her performances during the
earlier part of the year were hooted. But after 'Raincoat",
no one can accuse her of not trying.
There's an acute shortage confronting her life though, that
of leading men who click with her. The last year proved she
can't jell with Vivek Oberoi or Martin Henderson on screen.
She worked far better with Ajay Devgan at the beginning and
end of the year in "Khakee" and "Raincoat".
how many films can Ajay and I do together? I know we vibe
really well and we've done some high-quality work together
in 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam' and now 'Raincoat'. But I don't
want the audience to tire of us."
None of the Khans is willing to work with her. Salman is out
of question. Shah Rukh has fallen out with her. As for Aamir,
he won't forgive her for walking out of "The Rising". In
fact, recently when they came face to face at a social do,
Aamir looked straight through her.
"Where did you hear that?" she neither confirms nor denies
the rumour. But the hurt shows.
She sighs, "It's true, there's a scarcity of leading men.
Whom do I work with? There's Sanjay Dutt and Ajay... I'm
very happy working with them. But who else"