(2006) Want To Marry

Astrologers love ‘speculating’ on Aishwarya Rai’s love and marriage?

“Frankly, I didn’t know astrology could be so entertaining. It certainly made for great half hour specials. Even we were tuning into all that stuff – like, ‘Hey, what’s all this about?’ It was good viewing.”

There’s so much talk about your ‘marriage’. When’s D-day anyway?

“Look, I do want to marry. When the announcement comes from me officially, you and the world will know about it. There’s nothing to hide – I believe in it. It’s a beautiful institution. I leave it to God. My family and my man’s family will be the deciding factor as to when, how and when you will know about it.”

At one time you were so west-focused – the foreign media loving you totally – but of late you seem to be making more news in desiland…

“No! Somewhere I’ve been misrepresented or misunderstood. Right from the time of my doing my first English film. In all my interviews, from the time I began Bride & Prejudice, I’ve always said I’d do an English film in the same way I did a Tamil or Bengali film. I’m based in India. As actors we’re gypsies; so we go where work takes us in physical terms. And over the past ten years my family has witnessed that; I’ve hardly been home. Not necessarily because I started English films. Some members of the media have got this wrong or it’s got lost in translation in the written word.”

“I’ve not gone away because I’m working in English films, I am doing it because opportunity knocked at my door to do so. I’ve always been available and have evidently worked in many Hindi films consistently. I am what I am because of my Indian audience. I’ve done Bengali, Tamil and English films because I’ve been fortunate to have films come by me rather than me looking out for them. You don’t do varied cinema because you are no longer into your cinema. You don’t do a Raincoat because you’re no longer a commercial actor. I want to break all these myths. Directors can’t slot me as a typical kind of actor. They see me in varied roles.”

Preity Zinta has been quoted as saying that irrespective of what others may say, only one Indian star gets recognized on the Cannes red carpet – and that’s Ash. Comment?

“She’s a dear friend and it was very sweet of her to say that. I appreciate it.”

But wouldn’t that discount the appearance of say, a Mallika Sherawat, who’d shared glory on the same carpet?

“Not at all. Mallika was invited there as a member of a team of the movie ‘The Myth’ – that was the reason for her being there; because she was a core member of the film. She had every right to be there as a representative of her project.”

For the Mani Rathnam film Lajjo weren’t you the first choice before Kareena? The tabloids were speculating that post the Mangal Panday experience, Aamir wasn’t keen you do the project?

“I leave it to Manisir to comment; but the fact is that he had spoken to me of Lajjo. Later, he discussed Guru and I told him I’d do any film with him because such is my relation with him. ‘You’re my first director, my guru,’ I said. So whatever he asked I’d be happy to do. He told me we’d be doing Lajjo later, after Guru; It was ‘yes’ from me and here I am in Guru. I don’t know what happened with Lajjo – I just heard of it. That’s it. And knowing Mani, I’m sure he has the right reasons for it. He’s just so clear-headed.”

Already there’s talk of Dhoom 3 with you and Shah Rukh in it.

“The talk had a couple of names in it. But I always leave it to the producer or director to make the announcements. Unless there’s a team conducting a press conference for it. There have been speculations, yes; I did see my name featured there as well but I leave it to Adi to make any announcements if he sees me in the project.”

After your sizzling screen chemistry with Hrithik, guess people should simply flock to see the ‘good-looking Moghuls’ in Jodha Akbar. Is a story really needed?

“We’re here in cinema, always telling a story. That’s what creates the magic. That’s where the director, the visionary plays the most important role. He’s the captain of the ship. The magician who takes the audience through a visual and emotional journey. As long as you’re in the narrative you won’t know whether it’s a visual or emotional journey. That’s when you capture the audiences’ fascination.”

Comparisons with Rekha’s Umrao Jaan and your adaa have been fast and furious?

“I say that we’re actors and we’re greedy and we’re completely thrilled when we get fantastic characters to essay irrespective of whether they’ve been captured before, in our cinema or in any international cinema. Great characters are always extremely inviting and we have the privilege to replay them; that’s something I recognize, respect, acknowledge. Every actress does not get these opportunities.”

“As for me having done a film that’s been done wonderfully before; which Rekhaji is synonymous with, I’m thankful for. To me it’s an honour. In terms of comparisons, it’s not me who has done so. It’s the media or the audiences who do that. That goes with the territory. I can only say that Rekhaji and I have a wonderful relationship in sense of a ‘connection’ that was made even before I joined films. She was probably amongst the first people who’d seen me when one of my earliest commercials was out.”

“I was at 16th Road, Khar, when she spotted me, came upto me and said in her deep haunting voice, ‘Ash!’ We all turned around and everybody was totally shocked on seeing Rekha in a white salwar kameez, pink lipstick, looking stunning. She said, ‘I’ve seen your photographs and I know you will be in the movies. You’re mine… I’ll see you around.’ Even now, wherever we meet, at public functions or premieres, she’s always personally connected to me. Very encouraging, always positive. I’m thrilled that we’re compared in similar vein.”

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