Why Aishwarya Rai Will Never be Good Enough for us
By Reema Moudgil | Published: 28th May 2014 10:41 AM |
BANGALORE: The country can heave a sigh of relief. Aishwarya Rai has walked the red carpet at Cannes and vindicated her fashion chops but it is not over yet. Someone exclaims, “Finally!” An article asks, “She may be ready to come back to films...but will we take her back?” Someone jeers, “Is that all she does, the whole year?” So, as we have seen in the past too, not one moment in her 20-year-long career can completely vindicate her. She can’t win. Not Aishwarya Rai.
Yes, she won Miss World. But Sushmita Sen won Miss Universe! Yes, she is beautiful. But too beautiful and not talented enough. That giggle. The term ‘plastic’ that everyone uses like common currency despite Guru, Jodha Akbar, Josh, Iruvar, Kandukondain Kandukondain, Chokher Bali, Raincoat, Devdas and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. She performs only when there is a good director to mould her.
Who cares about the Padmashree and the unpronounceable French honour, the American talk shows, the film offers that won’t stop? Two years ago, she was too fat.
Now she is slimmer but somehow can’t compete with the histrionics of a Richa Chaddha or the youthful charm of an Alia Bhatt. Remember that headline in a serious broadsheet? “She has no Hollywood hits. She has no Bollywood hits!” That sums her up, doesn’t it? Then how did she outlast her contemporaries? How is she still relevant? Because of PR? Endorsements?
She is always dismissed but then somehow resurfaces much to our discomfort and perverse delight so she can be dismissed again. From her baby pounds to her baby, her husband to her gowns to her accent, we are consumed by her and yet pretend that she does not matter.
I remember writing after she was panned for her baby weight at Cannes, “She owes it to us to be Aishwarya Rai. Icy, distant, unattainable, impossibly perfect so that she can be hated. Not fat and motherly. Anyone can get to be that.”And yet, we don’t want her to be extraordinary because every time her pictures appear on the net, trolls lash out, “Why can’t the aunty stay at home and look after her baby?” Why the hell is she out there still? She is like the daughters-in-law in TV soaps who are constantly asked to prove themselves and never ever must say, “I have had enough of being micro-managed...go get a life!”
A woman must not disregard opinions about her and because Aishwarya Rai does so, we hate her even more. How can a woman be so beautiful, so successful, so self-sufficient that we cease to matter to her? How can she get away with it? It is only male stars who can be forgiven their age and even hit and run accidents among other indiscretions.
Not many women can afford to be as nonchalant. That even Rai has had to face so much negativity over her beauty, her talent, her weight, her relationships indicates how much worse things must be for ordinary women without a reassuring bubble of success.
Rai may be walking the red carpet but she is no different from you and me because though she may be judged by different yardsticks, she is being watched and judged still just like her nameless sisters. But while we talk, she walks and maybe that is the only way to be a woman in an unforgiving world.