Aishwarya Continues to Run in Slow Motion

Despite the disdain her‘come-back’ has been greeted with, she is not going anywhere

Published: 14th October 2015 05:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th October 2015 05:19 AM   |  A+A-


QUEEN’S ROAD:For the umpteenth time, it is not easy being Aishwarya Rai. While, male actors, older than her continue to walk in slow motion towards box-office success, watch with what disdain Rai’s ‘come-back’ has been treated by erudite critics who have mocked her uncreased pants  as she plays super mom and top-notch lawyer without missing a beat in Sanjay Gupta’s Jazbaa. This in a country where Salman Khan’s hyperbolic muscles tear a shirt off his back. Much derision has also been heaped on her red-rimmed eyes, how the film has been tailored to treat her like a star, how a race at her daughter’s school is contrived to look like she is winning because ofcourse, how can Rai win anything. A cinematic  puff-paste hero can ofcourse somersault along with a SUV, be Dabangg and kick and slay an entire village of thugs without evoking a single titter amid a profusion of whistles.

And for the millionth time, Rai has been called stiff-necked, cold, plastic and grudgingly, just too beautiful to be real when there are many top ranking male stars who have not in a long time flexed anything other than their biceps and have never been called untalented or unworthy of their success. They are called charismatic and anointed as bhais and baadshahs and even win awards.

Her role has been called ‘’age appropriate” with a national daily headlining the review as, “Mummy, bachao!”

This ageist sarcasm is never directed at Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan who continue to play men in their twenties or thirties. Shahrukh will soon be seen in an unconventional film with Alia Bhatt, an actor probably just a few years older than his daughter.  The histrionics of leading male stars are never an issue though their box-office clout is calculated  to the last crore.

Women in Bollywood after a certain age are either called legends and expected to judge talent shows or play their age like Madhuri Dixit and Sri Devi. They are applauded but never considered box-office front runners like the men they once starred with but Rai is still around and somehow, we must not let her luxuriate in that space but mock her back into full-time mommyhood. Because even after 21 odd years in the industry, she is not good enough for our critics. Her bad.

We maybe combing film scripts and media imagery to make sure that our stories are no longer sexist and lopsided but damn, we still can’t apply the same fastidiousness to the manner in which we review cinema and the work of  certain female actors who seem to be too self-sufficient to need our approval anyway.

Her Hollywood splash was pale, they said. Her Cannes appearances are never up to the mark, they insist. She giggled too much on Oprah. Oh, that pout in Bride and Prejudice. What is with that accent? Even her wax replica was less fake than her. A lesser actor and weaker woman would have retreated into her shell a long time ago but Aishwarya Rai refuses to fade into oblivion, quietly. The woman keeps running in uncreased pants. From one decade to another. Through viciously green, sloppy, messy reviews. Through a hail of brickbats. Because, whether you believe in the cheesy marketing line or not, she really is worth it.


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