I have to say the first time I ever saw former Miss World Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan (which was in 1999’s ‘Aa Ab Laut Chalen’) I didn’t particularly like her. I felt her co-star Suman Ranganathan (where is she now?) was a better actress. Aishwarya seemed far-fetched in the role she was playing…she was too much thanks to her looks…she looked unreal…almost like a ridiculous threat you didn’t want to take seriously and for those reasons alone when I see people posting hateful or jealous remarks about her, to some extent I can understand where “SOME” of them are coming from because if you’re not a fan it’s very easy to hate on Aishwarya just based on her looks and nowadays…her status and accomplishments. What changed my mind about her was (1999’s TAAL) a film I didn’t initially like but was blown away by all that she had to offer in that film thanks to her drive to prove everybody wrong plus the amazing Anand Bakshi/AR Rahman songs, the innovative choreography by Shiamak Davar and of course great directing by Subhash Ghai all of whom helped her showcase her talents perfectly. In fact, the film’s soundtrack was the first Bollywood CD I ever bought. Later that year came ‘Hum dil de chuke sanam’ and the rest as they say is history. I still haven’t seen any of her work prior to 1999 but she has certainly come a long way since ‘AALC’ and with how much she has flourished since her humble beginnings, one can only hope the best is yet to come. Looking back now, little did I know that what had startled me about Aishwarya was the fact that she (and former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen) were quietly and perhaps unknowingly re-inventing Bollywood, taking it to another level which is part of the reason why both are still immensely relevant actresses/business women today. In my opinion, they were the ones who changed the classic look of the heroine, coming off of their respective Miss World & Miss Universe wins with their pageant-skinny-picture-perfect-glamourous-model-like looks putting an end to the voluptuous vixen era of the late 80s and early 90s. All other pageant winners who have since found careers in Bollywood might not willingly admit it but they all followed suit seeking careers in Bollywood and scored big time following the newly minted format. Aishwarya has swimmingly breezed through 2 eras (the late 90s and the 2000s) in Bollywood (her detractors will argue 3) and at age 39 (come November) is bracing for the 3rd, now a married mother of one, still in high demand, still generating interest and still remaining as relevant globally as when she won her Miss World title back in 1994.