I tried hard to resist. I thought of avoiding the cliched path. I thought this topic is best left buried. But I read about one more American TV appearance of Aishwarya Rai, and I knew that I had to write about it.
What's with this Aishwarya mania? I really don't get it. Agreed, she is considered undisputably beautiful in India. It is also understood that she has zero selling power at the box office by herself. She really hasn't had any hits beyond the Bhansali camp and the odd Taal and Mohabbatein here and there. I am one of her fans, but only of her looks. I'd like to reiterate that Aishwarya Rai in a saree is God's gift to mankind (pun intended). But really, she isn't paid the kind of obeisance in India as she is being paid abroad right now. When she made it to the jury of Cannes, that was a shocker. She has no body of work to talk about (neither did Meg Ryan, but at least she had Harry and Sally :-))
Is it because she looks beautiful and is urbane enough for the Western audiences? This is the age of Asia, say the Western TV executives. Let's promote people from India. Whom do we promote? Who is looking westward? Who can actually speak English? Lo and behold. There's the beauty queen from India. Why not call her over? Time Asia called her the Face of Bollywood (the crappiest article on Bollywood possible). On all Western shows, she is repeatedly called the most successful actress in India. Hello?
Then came the appearance on 60 minutes. For years, she has been accused of being fake, a plastic beauty. Well, she reiterated it on the show. Look at how she plays the slighted diva when she says the best compliment someone ever paid her was that she looks real!!! What's with all the giggling? You can see the obvious effort to appear smart. Oh, by the way, you can watch the appearance here. I also saw her appearance on David Letterman. She was irritating even more than on CBS. I guess she was trying to pander to the Nascar/NFL crowd, unlike people who watch 60 minutes. And what's the big deal about her doing a kissing scene? It has now become an international issue.
Alright, enough of the criticism. Here are some positives. I like the fact that she tries to sell India, and is a defensive mode when the interviewers feign ignorance about the country. I like the fact that she has been bold enough to think beyond the borders of India and is thinking of true international stardom. I guess I am just jealous that we might lose our beauty queen to the decadent western powers :-) I like the fact that she still looks a million bucks!
When I started the post, I mentioned another TV appearance, right? Here's the breaking news: she might appear on Oprah.