By a providential coincidence, Aishwarya already had the Bachchan middlename ‘Rai’ in her name when she became the Bachchan family’s daughter-in-law.
“Isn’t it a lovely coincidence? As if if the One above had planned it,” she once said to me.
Javed Akhtar has an amusing take on Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s beauty. “People can’t believe certain things, like Lataji’s voice. Or Aishwarya’s looks.Zaroor koi raaz hai(there must be a catch). How can she be so beautiful? Chal jhoothi!(don’t lie)”
Over the years Aishwarya has become a metaphor for physical beauty.So blinding is her beauty that people forget she has a very intelligent mind ticking behind those looks.
Many fell in love with her . She fell in love twice.One whom she couldn’t marry. The other whom she happily married.Aishwarya fell in love with Abhishek Bachchan during the shooting of J P Dutta’s Umrao Jaan. They would be missing from the sets for hours driving the finicky Dutta up the nearest papier-mache wall. Once during their courtship on the sets of Umrao Jaan JP got so exasperated that he ripped her costume into pieces after waiting forever for her to reach the sets for a dance number.
Aishwarya now balances her duties as a mother beautifully with her career.Aishwarya’s in-laws Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan have no interest or say in her career decisions. She doesn’t discuss the films she signs with them . Jaya once told me she was surprised to see her daughter-in-law in a film whose premiere she attended. Only then did she get to know Aishwarya was in the film!
While doting on daughter Aaradhya and refusing to let her out of sight Aishwarya is also the disciplinarian in the family. While hubby Abhishek, mother-in-law Jaya and father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan spoil Aaradhya silly, mom Aishwarya knows where to draw the line.
Aishwarya says she and Aaradhya have a soul connection. The mother’s day begins and ends with her daughter. From the moment Aishwarya wakes up her entire perspective on the day is centred on her child.
Aishwarya once got very emotional talking with me on her daughter. “Her constant presence in my life is not even something I consciously think about it. It’s just there! And I wonder how I lived before she was born.Only a parent would understand how I feel.My world changed the day Aaradhya was born.Everything is the same around me. But she has changed the way I look at the world.The world that I now occupy with my daughter is my reality. Everything else is a secondary.”
Aaradhya has learnt to cope with her mother’s superstardom. Says Aishwarya, “What is really reassuring is that she has incredible resilience, by God’s grace.She has seen this public attention from infancy. When faced with crowds she becomes very silent and observant, as though taking it all in.Yes, she clings to me in public because there are people screaming and jostling. In fact I get more nervous when I am in crowds with her than she.
Aishwarya admits she is paranoid about her daughter’s safety in the public. Not that anyone means any harm. But in the sea of humanity even a little jostle can hurt her daughter. “I take her with me everywhere so she is a part of my multi-tasking life. I keep it as real for her as possible, and very normal.Now she is in school like any normal girl. But even when she was a toddler I’d take her to the play-park to be with other children. It becomes difficult in Mumbai. But when I’m travelling I take her out to the park . Even there, there are people who recognize us. But they are normal parents and children.Aaradhya has to have a normal life. I’ve explained to her that is my life and now she’s part of it. So she’s comfortable in it.When people meet Aaradhya they say she’s such a normal child.That’s my reward as a mother.”
People assume Aishwarya has a posse of workers helping her with her mothering duties. Wrong! She’s never had nurses or nannies for Aaradhya.This was partly due to ignorance. When Aaradhya was born Aishwarya didn’t even know one could hire reliable help for one’s child.
Aishwarya looks forward to growing old with her husband an daughter.We look forward to seeing all three on screen some day.