Monday, September 3, 2012

Who dare say Aishwarya Rai can't act?!

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is often considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, which makes her an easy target to hate. As a big fan of hers since Jeans (1998), I can never understand the claims of some of her haters who accuse her of coasting along on her beauty alone and not being able to really act. I am always baffled each time I read this over and over again. I do agree that Indian award juries always choose winners based on box office collections and are not as integrative as their Hollywood counterparts. But nevertheless, I don't think Aishwarya would have won all those awards if she was completely untalented.

To prove that Aishwarya deserves some recognition as an actress and not just a beauty queen, here is a list of her top five best performances in movies to date.

5) Provoked
Story has it that producers had difficulty finding funds for the film while critically acclaimed method actresses like Tabu and Shabana Azmi were being considered for the title role. But once Aishwarya Rai was confirmed to play the role of the abused NRI wife, money came flooding in. Though the film largely received mixed responses from both critics and audiences alike, a majority of people would agree that despite the bungling direction, it is Rai’s heart touching performance that saves the film. The real-life Ahluwalia who Rai played on-screen, sat next to Rai during the screening, reportedly holding her hand and sobbing during the most violent scenes.

4) Chokher Bali
Another offbeat independent film by this mainstream Bollywood queen that won her rave reviews. Her slightly restrained performance is apt for the role. Once again, her doe-eyed charm, emotes a silent rage which the character demands.

3) Guzarish
The film performed averagely in the box office, but that is understandable since a story about a paralysed person can be too depressing for your typical Indian moviegoer.Nevertheless, it is largely a film to educate, not to entertain, though it does have fun moments like when Aishwarya’s character breaks into dance during the Udi Udi scene. One critic who was very negative towards the film noted that the only thing worth seeing here is Aishwarya. 

2) Raincoat
Critics agreed that for someone who is often considered the most beautiful woman in the world, Aishwarya looks depressing in the film. That's a compliment by the way. Her mannerism is a mixture of a submissive Indian housewife and a borderline neurotic lover. Without all her glamour and elegance, she is more than convincing as a broken woman. It can easily be considered one Aishwarya Rai's best performance to date. Thanks to those large, beautiful eyes, she can easily emote all kinds of emotions with her facial expressions rather than her body gestures. This film was clear proof that Rai is indeed an actress capable of doing films other than her typical Bollywood romantic dancing-around-trees role.

1) Kandukondain Kandukondain  
This modern day Indian adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility sees Aishwarya in her best performance to date. Despite being swarmed with Hindi film offers, Rai claimed that she accepted the role of Meenakshi because could strongly identify with her character which is based on the character of Marianne Dashwood. Back when strong independent women were often depicted as vamps like in Padayappa, Aishwarya brings justice to her role by portraying Meenu as a fiercely powerful yet romantic young woman. 

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