2005 2004 2002 2001 OTHER SECTIONS
2004 2002 2001 OTHER SECTIONS
2002 2001 OTHER SECTIONS
Aishwarya Rai, the reigning queen of Indian cinema who has starred in 24 Bollywood films over the last seven years and a classically trained dancer, has been called the most beautiful woman in the world – according to thousands of Web sites, a British magazine, Internet polls and even Julia Roberts.
Despite being virtually unknown in the United States even though fans have created more than 17,000 Web sites devoted to her and her beauty compared to Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman and Elizabeth Taylor – she is among the elite of an industry that attracts a global audience of 5 billion people, which is twice the reach of Hollywood.
The reasons Bollywood films have such universal appeal and influence is that the industry produces three new films that are distributed worldwide every day and because they're squeaky-clean. There are no sex scenes, not even kissing. Every time you think someone's going to do it, they'll burst into song instead.
She has never kissed on screen -- not even after 24 films because kissing is taboo in the Indian cinema. Rai said if she did kiss someone on screen in a Hollywood movie, it would create a minor scandal among her fans. “In our society, you don't really see people around the street corner kissing or being extremely or overtly physically demonstrative," she said. However she won't rule out kissing in films when she moves from "Bollywood" to Hollywood -- although she says it is certain to create a minor scandal among her fans.
Rai grew up in a strict middle-class home, who lives and works in Bombay India, is the daughter of a merchant marine and a writer. She was an "A" student on track to becoming an architect, until the "Miss World" pageant came along. At age 21, Rai became Miss World and soon becoming the brightest star in Bollywood.
This independent and astute businesswoman negotiates her own contracts, including endorsements for L'Oreal, Coca-Cola and DeBeers diamonds. She is not only one of the wealthiest women in India, but Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people on the planet. When she's seen in new clothes, it invariably sparks a new fashion trend. Choosing what to wear, she says, is not so much about caring as it is, "just about being open to life and trying different things out."