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The other Aishwarya Rai: 5 artistic gems

Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan was born on November 1, 1973. She made her acting debut with the 1997 Tamil film, ‘Iruvar’, directed by Mani Ratnam. Having completed 26 years in the industry, the actor has delivered numerous memorable performances. Here are some of her underrated roles:

Iruvar (1997)

Aishwarya Rai plays a dual character in her debut film directed by Mani Ratnam. Her character, a timid wife to Anandan (Mohan Lal), dies from an illness. However, the film sees her coming back as Kalpana, Anandan’s new love interest. At first, her striking resemblance to his dead wife makes him stay away, but he can’t help but feel an attraction.

Iruvar is said to be the depiction of a fictionalised version of the lives of M G Ramachandran and M Karunanidhi, their conflicts and their tryst with cinema and politics.

Chokher Bali (2003)

Directed by Rituparno Ghosh, ‘Chokher Bali’ is a Bengali film adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s novel that explores the extramarital affair between Binodini, a young widow and Mahendra. Aishwarya Rai plays the role of Binodini. She received critical acclaim for her performance. ‘Chokher Bali’ focusses on the prevalence of child marriage, the plight of widows, patriarchy and promotion of female literacy in early 19th century Bengal.

Raincoat (2004)

‘Raincoat’ is a poignant tale of two former lovers who meet under unforeseen circumstances and weave a web of lies about their lives. Love and nostalgia grow between them and they end up making a sacrifice for each other despite being distraught themselves. This heart wrenching story is the retelling of O’ Henry’s ‘The Gift of the Magi’. Aishwarya Rai plays the role of Neerja while Ajay Devgn plays her lover Manoj.

The Mistress of Spices (2005)

Aishwarya Rai plays the interesting and unusual role of Tilo, aclairvoyant, a chosen mistress of spices. The film is an adaptation of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s novel of the same name. As a mistress of spices, she has to follow certain rules — one of them being she can never touch anyone. Things get complicated when she meets someone special.

Guzaarish (2010)

Rai plays the role of Sofia D’Souza,a nurse, in this romantic drama directed by Sanjay Leela Bansali. Sofia has been staying with a former magicianEthan Mascarenhas who isquadriplegic. The film explores the growing relationship between the two. Ethan soon files an appeal in court for euthanasia. This is one of the first few Indian films to explore the concept of euthanasia.

(Published 27 October 2023, 20:59 IST)

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