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Hey Kids, what a treat weíve got for you; a rare, exclusive chat with a lady whose middle name must be The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.  Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has become the symbol of the rise of Bollywood in the West.  The lovely, acclaimed actress has made a rare Hollywood appearance in Pink Panther 2.  Sit in as she talks about having fun on set with Steve Martin, winning Indiaís highest artistic honour and throwing elegant shade on obnoxious paparazzi.  So classy.

 

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

 

The Lady Miz Diva:  Namaskara, Shrimati Aishwarya!  Please allow me to congratulate you on the tremendous honour of the Padma Shri Award given to you by the Indian Government.  Thatís like the Medal of Freedom in the US or the French Legion of Honour.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan:  Namaskara.  Thank you so much, itís an absolute privilege.  Itís really humbling.

 

LMD:  What did that mean to you to be honoured by your government that way?

ARB:  It really, really is absolutely a very special honour because itís granted to you by your country.  Itís a recognition accorded to you by your country, by your government and it really holds a very special place.  I truly cherish it.

 

LMD:  Was there a ceremony?

ARB:  Yes, that will be in a couple of months and itís going to be awarded by the president.

 

LMD:  Wow!

ARB:  Yeah, it feels good.   What makes it really special is when people react to it and respond to it the way that they do, it just makes it that much more special in your life. Itís among the four top honours granted by the government and itís special.

 

LMD:  Of course we must talk about Pink Panther 2, which was so much fun.

ARB:  Exactly! {Laughs} Iím so glad you said that because thatís something Iím fighting with reminding the viewers that thatís the core of it, but thatís exactly it. Thatís exactly the reason I was so happy to be a part of it, because itís a franchise Iíve grown on. Itís just fun, itís a fun film, its Pink Panther. Steve Martin is a total institution in entertainment and I think he is just fabulous as Clouseau. After Peter Sellers, who we grew up on to have Steve Martin take it forth is just wonderful.

 

LMD:  How did you even come up for consideration for the role of Sonia?

ARB:  Well, through my manager I was asked about the movie and the script and they ran the script by me and I thought the role was fun.  I mean, you already know what Pink Pantherís gonna be like; you know itís gonna be one hell of a journey, you know itís gonna be fun and family entertainment.  So, when they sent me the script, I was like - I hate that Iím finding myself repeating myself Ė but thatís it, the word fun is what describes it.   And there was a great ensemble cast that have been brought together, so I was like this is an experience that I will definitely cherish, because where do you get an opportunity to work with the kind of team which has this incredible body of experience behind them, whether it be Steve Martin, of course, whether itís Jean Reno, Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina, youíve got John Cleese, youíve got Jeremy Irons doing a cameo, youíve got Lily Tomlin doing a cameo, itís just such a fantastic team.  Emily Mortimer is in it {and} Yuki {Matsuzaki}.  So I was like, one minute, this is gonna be the chance of a lifetime, where youíre doing a fun film, and then again having the opportunity with actors who are all willing to be a apart of this fun journey, even thought everybody has this wonderfully diverse experience in terms of their own individual body of work. So I was like ďAll right, great.Ē I signed to be on board in a quick duration, it was a short, tight schedule and fun.  I was very happy to be on board.

 

LMD:  I was surprised by the quality of the actors appearing in Pink Panther 2 like all those you mentioned.

ARB:  It just goes to show that all these actors, who do an incredible variety in terms of the kind of work that they normally accept, when theyíre willing to be a part and I literally mean a part of a project like this.  You know itís just gonna be a fun trip and come together and put up a good show, thatís really the spirit with which weíve all come together and thatís how we were happy to be onboard.

 

LMD:  And you can really see that the whole cast is having a good time.

ARB:  Exactly, and no one here is a beginner.  Everybody here has done their gig and youíve been acting for a couple of years, you donít have to reiterate in terms of ĎAll right, youíre here and youíre serious about your work.í Youíre just happy to take on a variety of work, do different kinds of roles.  There are some movies which are intense acting pieces, there are some movies which just like this, a fun trip an ensemble cast happy to be aboard, there are some movies where it is a biography or historic piece. Itís great when you can mix it all up and just give your audiences different facets to you as an actor and this is one such trip.

 

LMD:  We got to interview Steve Martin a week ago and he kept us in stitches.

ARB:  {Laughs} Thatís totally him!

 

LMD:  I wondered if he was that funny all the time onset? Did you laugh a lot making the film?

ARB:  Yeah, we all had a really good time making it because it was just natural; the kind of scenes we were putting together, it was all a laugh.  It was great that we did it in that spirit and with that kind of energy and God Willing thatís what got translated on screen.

 

LMD:  I asked Steve Martin, Jean Reno and your director Harald Kwart about working with you and they said you were absolutely wonderful, but Steve said he had no idea of your following and your popularity until you filmed in Paris and these huge crowds of fans and the paparazzi showed up.

ARB:  {Laughs}  Yeah and that was the first day of filming and they were like, ďWow, does it get this way?Ē Because they had blocked off the street to shoot and they were everywhere. {Laughs} There was a huge crowd.

 

LMD:  Are you used to that, paparazzi following you wherever you go?

ARB:  Itís a fine line because youíve got paparzzi and then youíve got your well-wishers. {Laughs}

 

LMD:  Well, thatís a problem too, isnít it? Because you want to be good to your fans.

ARB:  No with fans itís never a problem, because theyíre just expressing their love. I mean itís people here weíre dealing with. They just want to make that connection and to talk. Everyoneís out there just appreciating your work; theyíre just being loving. You know thereís a fine line between stalkers and fan and well-wishers - I donít like the word ďfans,Ē I always say well-wishers - so, thereís a fine line between that.  That apart, well-wishers are easier; if youíre busy, if youíre at work everyoneís very understanding.  Itís incredible, their patience, I mean, sometimes Iím like ďGuysÖ,Ē you know?  I mean you feel guilty, because like when we were in Paris and itís cold and youíre filming and theyíre just so sweet, they just wait.  Iím like ďAre you serious?Ē and theyíre there.  On a humane level, I never find it impossible to make the connection with well-wishers. And paparazziÖ well, what can you do? {Laughs} You just have to accept that itís part of the territory; I mean otherwise I think youíre deluding yourself.

 

LMD:  In my research of your, I found a clip on YouTube where you were asked this incredibly rude question by an Indian reporter and you told them off with such grace and logic in two languages!

ARB:  Thatís how I try speaking {Laughs}

 

LMD:  How do you keep your cool in that situation when there is so much interest in your personal life?

ARB:  Well, I guess youíve answered that question already.  With patience, with grace and dignity; which is something that youíve grown up with.  By trying your best to communicate and hope that people get you.  And if they donít, then they just donít - and they never intended to, you know what Iím saying?  You try to make the communication because this is part and parcel of our life and weíre always going to get the opportunity to speak to each other, but if a person is willing and receptive, then the word will be put out as it actually is.  And if youíre not receptive then you recognise that the intention never was and you move on.

 

LMD:  I spoke with Akshay Kumar and he revealed that he has done 120 films.

ARB:  Wow, really?

 

LMD:  Yes, thatís what he said.  I wondered if making that many films that was something you could picture for yourself?

ARB:  I didnít know, has he really?  Wow!  No, my number is nowhere close, but then again I donít remember having a free day.  I think the kind of films I have attracted and worked on in my duration, which I donít think is as long as Akshayís, but within that time I think just the kind of films Iíve worked on have been huge by the time itís taken into making them.  Iíve put my best into the kind of work Iíve done. No, the number is nowhere close and no regrets on it.

You know, itís not about the number of films, I mean God Bless him and good luck to him and his energy is incredible, but I think itís just the kind of films that you do than the number and itís just what your schedule and your time permits. Thatís always a huge deciding factor in my array of film that I eventually end up doing, because sometimes they give you so many more, which are just so attractive and exciting, but thereís no way you can fit them into your schedule. So time has always been a huge, huge deciding factor in eventually narrowing it down to the number of films I can do.

 

LMD:  I need to ask about Slumdog Millionaire and whether youíve seen the tribute to a certain member of your family? {Indian cinema legend Amitabh Bachchan is Aishwaryaís father in law and Slumdog Millionaireís young Jamil Malik leapt into an outhouse cesspool to get his autograph}

ARB:  {Laughs} You know, because of my schedule I still haven't managed to see it.  I wasnít even in Mumbai, I was filming elsewhere. Anil {Kapoor} did call for us to go to the premiere, but I wasnít even in the city.  I was really happy for the entire team; for the amount of pride itís brought them and the kind of laurels and accolades. I think thatís fantastic. {A.R.} Rahman is just so special. He is someone Iíve worked with in so many movies and Iím a fan, I love him.  He is just a wonderful person, so Iím really, really happy for his awards and Iím sure there are many more coming. Iím happy for the entire team and I look forward to watching the movie.

 

LMD:  Whatís next, Aishwarya?

ARB:  Ha, whatís next? Whatís current!  Currently Iím already working on Mani Ratmanís Raavana; Iím working on both the Hindi and Tamil version.  Then thereís Shankarís Robot, which is a Tamil movie.  Next, Iím going on Vipul Shahís movie with Akshay.

 

LMD:  With Akshay? Oh Great!

ARB:  YeahÖ and theyíre already cracking jokes that both Padma Shris are in it. {Laughs} {Akshay Kumar also was awarded the Padma Shri along with Aishwarya} And thereís Sanjay Bhansaliís with Hrithik {Roshan} later in the year and Abihnay Deoís with Abhishek {Bachchan, Aishwaryaís husband}.

 

LMD:  Okay, when do you breathe?

ARB:  See what I mean?  And still itís nowhere close to 120.  But, yeah, itís full, the diary is full and itís a busy year, in good films.  I mean good subjects; Iím excited as an actor to be doing different things in each of them, which is what I always look for.  Yeah thatís about it, and Pink Panther, Iíd like to keep reminding the viewers to remember itís an ensemble film and itís Pink Panther. Itís a fun trip and thatís the way it ought to be viewed!

 

LMD:  In light of that insane schedule, Iíd like to thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us.

ARB:  Thank you.  Please give all to your readers all my love and thanks for their appreciation.

 

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

February, 1st, 2009

 

 

 

 

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