Dark, heavy dresses; stark red lipstick. Braided hair, piled into an olde worlde bun. Fuller cheeks and a serious expression. The Aishwarya Rai Bachchan of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish is a stark contrast to the Indian beauty of Raavan and the feisty retro babe of Action Replayy.
“My look is very important to me in every film,” says the actor, confessing that she would hate to look like the same person in every role. “Right from the beginning I try to have a certain ‘look’ – it defines the film and it defines the character. It’s the first thing a person sees and it says a lot about the character.”
Ash says she discusses the character’s persona with the director and then they approach stylists and designers and work closely with them. “Movies give me an opportunity to play a different woman each time, so why not?” she laughs.
What’s the real Aishwarya’s style. “Comfort”. She quickly says that being comfortable is more important to her than making a statement with her clothes and brings us back to the topic of her look in Guzaarish.
“My character Sophia is a caregiver and a nurse, a Goan girl from a simple background. Her look is unique- she has hand embroidered handkerchiefs that she probably made herself, she wears a lot of black and stark red lipstick. Through the course of the movie, as you learn her backstory, you realise that she’s dressing up as much as she is hiding something.”
We point out, very diplomatically, that it looks as if she’s put on a few extra kilos. “Yes, there was a little bit of putting on weight, for both Hrithik (he co-star) and me. And we maintained it through out the film. There needed to be a sense of realism, to fit in with the character and her circumstances. There’s a certain degree of weight and tiredness that needed to get conveyed.”
Questions about weight are always tricky, and we’re worried that the actor may be offended. Instead, she’s actually happy. “Everything is not necessarily translated. There’s a lot we try and say through little things, and it’s great that people have noticed the smaller details about Sophia.”
Last week, a Mumbai tabloid reported that Ash had asked Bhansali to edit certain scenes from Guzaarish, where she and actor Hrithik Roshan get “intimate”. Reportedly, Ash and Abhishek were uncomfortable with them. Her response: “It was a silly story. Serioulsy, after all these years in the industry, why would I film something that I was uncomfortable with in the first place? And then, why would I go and have those scenes cut? It makes no sense!”
Besides Guzaarish, which released this Friday, Ash has had three releases this year. Raavan and Action Replayy, which failed to work wonders at the Box Office, and Rajinikanth starrer Robot – a phenomenal success. Despite the flops, Ash says it’s been a spectacular year for her. “Individually the response I got for each performance was gratifying. With Action Replayy I got to explore a new character. With Robot, that my presence was appreciated by Rajini was great, and Raavan was an incredible experience. So, at the end of the day, it’s been a fabulous year for me.”