Aishwarya Rai Bachchan turns 39 today! Sure, she’s drawn a lot of flak for her recent weight gain, her appearances at Cannes and her acting skills, but scroll through a list of the biggest hits in the past two decades and she’s in almost each one of it! Unlike other Indian beauty queens whose shelf lives were limited in Bollywood, Aishwarya’s romance with Bollywood has been a lingering one. Her list of achievements includes being the brand ambassador of Lóreal, being a permanent fixture at Cannes, acting in Hollywood movies, marrying into the first family of Indian cinema and of course being friends with Oprah. The last one is on my to-do list as well and therefore I’m totally jealous of her.
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999)
Aishwarya played a Gujarati lass and wore traditional Gujrati ghagra cholis in bright shades with heavy embellishment in the first half of the film. Her heavy ethnic jewellery and the mini blue ghaghra choli in the Nimbuda stopped many hearts.
Aishwarya played a Bengali girl in this iconic film. Her favourite designer Neeta Lulla styled her in sarees draped the Bengali way. The short, puff sleeved blouses with tassels and lace inserts became a rage with women across the country that year. And she made for quite a vision in the red and white sari in the Dola Re song.
Aishwarya shed her goody two shoes image with the Ishq Kamina number in Shakti. In her raw, sexy avatar achieved with a knotted backless cholis and chotu sarees.
Bunty aur Babli (2005)
Aishwarya stole the show with the famed Kajra Re number. She wore minimal makeup and jewellery, but her short choli with a plunging neckline and her low waist brocade skirt played up the oomph factor.
Umrao Jaan (2006)
Aishwarya enacted the role of a courtesan in this movie. Neeta Lulla again worked her magic on the actress with gorgeous, heavily embellished anarkalis. Yes there were comparisons with Rekha, who essayed the role in the original, but Aishwarya looked ethereal in each scene, making Abhishek Bachchan fall hook, line and sinker for her both on and off screen.
Ash was back to playing a Gujarati girl and the 1950s village belle role required her to wear simple cotton sarees with practically no embellishments, a tiny bindi on her forehead and a plait completed her look. She brought a certain amount of elegance and nobility to the role.
Jodhaa Akbar (2008)
Neeta Lulla dressed Aishwarya for her role of a Rajput princess. The extravagant gold jewellery and the warm palette of yellows, saffrons and reds made her look as grand as the film itself.
Sabyasachi Mukherjee dressed Aishwarya in Raavan. She was mostly seen in anarkalis in bold colours with minimal embellishment. Her look was simple and true to the character.
Aur Pyar Ho Gaya (1997)
In her third film, Aishwarya showed off Western wear effortlessly. Fresh out of the modelling world, the form fitting clothes in the film flattered her svelte body. Be it a bowler hat or a striped bandanna, she was always spot on.
Aishwarya played a scrappy Goan tomboy in this film. She looks fresh faced and innocent and wore short skirts, sun dresses, tunics, long dresses. The leather jacket and black string choker on her neck gave her an edgy look.
Halter neck tops, strappy dresses and black gowns that were all the rage in the 90’s made up the majority of Aishwarya’s wardrobe in this film. Her make-up was characteristic of the times – dramatic eyes and red lips.
Sabyasachi dressed Aishwarya for her role of a Portuguese caretaker. Long Victorian frocks, shawls, silver jewellery and cat eye glasses complemented her bold red lips in the film. The colour palette mostly comprised of black and blood red and there was no missing the red rose that she wore on her hair. Vintage glam!
Aishwarya’s futuristic look comprised of OTT headgear, futuristic hairstyles and costumes. Her make-up was bold and her hair was styled with feather pieces and statement headpieces. If she was a Greek goddess in one scene, she rocked a Manga robot look complete with earphones and steel corset in another.
Now when I look at her – a new mom with new layers of baby weight, all I know is this – she’s still in the game. Happy Birthday Aishwarya! May you blow us over in the years to come.
Stay tuned for more on Aishwarya’s personal style from her favourite designer Neeta Lulla this afternoon.