(1998) Aishwarya Talks

Aishwarya Rai Talks: “Dad was sailing constantly. So mostly, it was mum, brother and me”

Even as a child, I was a dreamer. I conjured up my own dreams and created a world of my own. At the same time, I was this sensible kid. In the family, I always spent more time with my aunts and uncles than with my cousins. It was not like a kid trying to be grown up. It was a comfortable atmosphere. My parents had always encouraged open communication.
Between the four of us – mom, dad, my brother and I – we were a very closely-knit family unit. Grown-up things were discussed; I don’t mean the birds and bees; but family matters, relationships, friends…

My dad was on ship, sailing constantly. So, most of the time, it was mum, brother and me. I always behaved more grown up than my brother. Even today, people are surprised that he is older than me. It’s very funny. Even in school, my juniors, my classmates and some of my seniors would so naturally discuss their problems with me.

I was a very talkative child. I used to speak better than other kids my age. I was always ahead of my time. I got into these little conversations with people and I was convinced that I was putting my point across, even if they were perceived as arguments.

“I loved to watch Chayageet”

As a child, I was exposed to a lot of music at home. Various kinds of music. My brother, who is 3 years older to me, obviously put on what he liked. There were no CDs at that time. He’d buy some tapes, he’d record some… pop music, mainly. And my mother used to listen to old Hindi songs. Later on, I also learnt Hindustani Classical and Carnatic music. I loved music and dance. I trained in Bharatanatyam too. I was inclined towards the fine arts right from the beginning.
We watched films as kids, but not excessively. It wasn’t part of our normal routine. There was television and the Sunday movies, which were the big events of the weekend. After that, you started feeling guilty about your homework for Mondays. I loved to watch Chayageet on Doordarshan and all the Hindi movies. I was enthralled by the magic of cinema even then. Videos were new and it was a big thing to watch the latest movies on them, whenever we could. Films weren’t a taboo. They just weren’t allowed to be the centrepoint of our lives, just like we weren’t allowed to go crazy over chocolates or going to games parks.

“If the occasion demands that I be a chandelier, I will be so”

Adolescence is a strange phase. One goes through all kinds of transformations. This was that stage when I’d constantly get into fights with my brother, not because he was my elder brother, but because I now felt on par with him. When I was getting into college, I thought, “Uh-oh, Elder-Brother Syndrome is going to take over big time!” But after a while, amazingly, we became the best of friends.

I was never into fashion really. I don’t know if I still am. I was always easy about dressing. If the occasion demands that I be a chandelier, I will be so, impassionately. But the kind of clothes I wear personally is a very different matter. Comfort is the main criterion, and of course, moods. But my clothes are never extravagant. In college, I was very simple in my dressing – just jeans and a shirt or a salwar kameez or something.

Biology and Zoology were my favourite subjects, but I didn’t see myself making a career in medicine. One needs a kind of dedication for such careers which, at that time, I thought I wouldn’t be able to put in. I took up architecture and then developed a love for it as I was studying it.

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