In 2007, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was approached for a role in Vipul Shah’s Akshay Kumar-starrer Namaste London. She didn’t have the time to take it up then. But three years later, when she got a chance to work with the “great combination” again in Action Replayy, she knew she had to do it.
“I’m so glad that when I finally got to work with Vipul and Akshay; we got to work on a subject where we’ve pushed the envelope in the comedy genre. Akshay is great fun to work with. He makes things look light,” says Aishwarya, whose character in the film, Mala, she calls “boisterous and tomboy-ish, but only in the first half of the film”.
The actor, who has a stream of releases this year, has discovered a pattern in the line-up. After Raavan and Robot earlier this year, she will be seen in Vipul Shah’s Action Replayy this Friday, followed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish in December.
“I recognised a pattern. It was interesting how life has come a full circle for me. All these directors who I am now working with — Mani Ratnam in Raavan, Shankar in Robot and now, Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Guzaarish — are all directors I have done memorable roles with, as a newcomer early in my career. Whether it was Iruvar (1997) with Mani, Jeans (1998) with Shankar or Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) with Sanjay… a cycle of a new beginning seems to be taking shape,” says Aishwarya.
The actor, who has mostly done character-based roles so far, will be seen in a comic avatar in Shah’s film. And immediately after, she will be seen in Bhansali’s Guzaarish, where she seems to be playing another intense role. When asked whether she studied actors and films from the ’70s to get under the skin of Mala, she says, “It’s not like I sat and watched movies. The memories of the movies from that era are very strong. My character is a collage of a lot of references. There is no signature reference of any actor.”
Aishwarya doesn’t differentiate between comic and serious roles; she calls all of them “memorable, enriching and intense”. Clarifying her stance as an independent artist, devoid of any interest in the various “camps in Bollywood”, she makes sure her body of work speaks for itself: “I’ve never looked for any combinations or starcast while reading a script. Every film should be as challenging, difficult or easy. I push myself and am committed. I don’t think comedy is not intense because getting mauled in Raavan was. Or for that matter Guzaarish. Playing my character in Action Replayy was as intense a deal as Guzaarish.”