If you are Indian you may have guessed this is about Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The global face of India with poise, beauty and talent that no one actually wants to hire for the last of those qualities, globally. They tried before, of course, but figured out she cannot do her job pretty quickly. No amount of beauty, poise can make up for lack of talent. I am not talking about endorsements, after all Helen Mirren is not going to go down in history for being a L’Oreal ambassador. Aishwarya was a fine model and should have remained just that.
Through the years I have watched her and I like to observe, because, as it turns out I am actually good at my job and scientists must make observations. I have watched many improve in ways unimaginable, Saif Ali Khan, Ranveer Singh, Shahid Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit Nene, Pooja Bhatt, Priyanka Chopra(PC) ,while many started working almost fully developed to the extent they are going to, like Amir Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, Kajol, Rani Mukherjee, Alia Bhatt, Vidya Balan and of course my favorite Kangana Ranaut. While some are hopeless from the very first and nothing can save us from them: Sonam Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.These are only the popular actors I am talking about of course, not others who I don’t think should be compared even on the same platform. They would not be the correct controls, in the experiment of acting in popular mainstream bollywood movies. It still needs acting, mind you, and that is primary and it is not easy, obviously. A lot of them learn to act only to forget and become ham-stars (like PC, Saif), but just because people choose not to be good any more does not mean they never were and if they once were, it is good to take note. I always do.
ARB just never was. Good at her second job I mean. I don’t doubt for a minute about the beauty and the poise, the harder path to success she had because she didn’t come from a star-connected family, neither did PC, Ranveer Singh, Madhuri Dixit. Here I would like to digress a little and emphasize the struggles of Kangana Ranaut, if anyone has missed to read in between lines and what Ranaut had to go through, I have only two words Aditya Pancholi. Remember the story of Jia Khan, who also dealt, fatally, with the family(she was with the son), I have no doubt Kangana went through a similar ordeal, but perhaps she is made of stronger stuff and lucky. If one read more they will know what true struggle is and the will it takes to succeed at all costs just because in her heart she knew she was really good at her profession of choice. For those who do find the time to look at that few snippets of the story, they will see it was revealed as if in error and almost apologetic in its manner. Despite Pancholi never have been even a had been. Probably because who was Ranaut again? No one. Pancholi was a man at least and the man is going to get his word out in a book he definitely is not writing himself. Kangana is busy making a legacy, she is only 28.
Oh, but one must never compare ARB to anyone else, why do we need to? She is her own woman (EVERY WOMAN IS!!) and I am sorry, but being evaluated is part of her job (the one she is not and never has been good at). She can be smart (relatively speaking), she is certainly not dumb, she has grace and doesn’t say anything when she is not sure about the topic (but she is prone to giggling at all questions, and no I am not against giggling, just seems something the Kardashians would do, and even they don’t! ARB is the global face for Indian women, remember? With power, comes responsibility, of not looking like a giggling celebrity with no brains!) She completely commits to anything she does, sure thing. Who said she didn’t? She completely commits and YET is no good at it, that’s the point. Plus, really, I have no time for anyone who wouldn’t. I am taking time to write about her because while she may not be good at her job, she is very good at being professional,creating a good impression and keeping it. That is not a small feat. Yay Indian women, but what, was it ever a question that Indian women couldn’t be committed to what they are doing? There are other Indian women totally committed to political activity and reform (Irom Chanu Sharmila, Soni Suri e.g.,) Who are doing it without being crowned Miss World and the world at their feet. Yes yay Indian women, but because of the right Indian women this time!
I just can’t help but compare her to PC, seems almost too much of a temptation. Both Miss worlds. Both from average middle class background. Both not that good at accents. Although PC, can seem almost human ( and no less pretty) and she is now on american prime time TV, which is almost Hollywood, has great exposure the possibility to be a true household name, internationally. So she underwent cosmetic surgery, many times, it seems, isn’t it possible that she had a real goal of being a known face in Hollywood and did whatever it took (and possibly got carried away, and still, does manage to look human)? American TV is about over-acting, over the top stories and over the top scripts. PC just wanted in, and mind you, she managed, without a boyfriend or a husband in the field. I have to appreciate that takes grit. I won’t be writing PC off in a hurry.
Whereas. Mistress of Spices (2005) was hardly Julie and Julia (2009). Oh no, I keep forgetting one cannot compare ARB to Meryl Streep! Not to Amy Adams either. They are hollywood actresses par excellence and ARB is merely the face of India. I wouldn’t do the injustice on this post any way.
If one wants to dwell on how long ARB has lasted in Bollywood and how that could be without talent, her being a woman and not Salman Khan. Except she was with him, for some time. And he hasn’t changed a bit in the past 25 yrs and his girl friends always get movie offers and often become quite famous, if you have noticed. She totally continued being dignity personified once Salman made an exit from her life, not dwelling on the details, and while he was always an idiot (and a criminal), I cannot imagine the considerable charm he must exude for anyone intelligent to be charmed by him. Before we move on, one moment on domestic violence. Aishwarya Rai was already well known (because of her crown and her beauty) and she could have taken a much bigger stand on the issue. She didn’t and that is okay, but hardly makes her the woman of substance (then again, why have such high expectations from only her? I don’t. Just stating a fact).
I must make another very important point here that Salman Khan is not even a person, barely a human being and in all such terms totally incomparable to ARB, who in most respects seems to be a perfectly nice person.
Anyway now she is the Bachchan bahu. It is the Bachchan family we are talking about. After or along with the Kapoors, the one family with clout that is indefatigable. No, it is not women with real talent that last that long, many don’t even with talent and many do despite complete lack of it. It is people with connections and clout. Talent is hard to find as we see her eyebrows dance at every spoken word in a sentence. It is also missed sorely as one witnesses overuse of hand gestures in exasperation (both in reel leading to more of it, for the people watching, in real) to what was meant to be delivered with voice modulated dialogue. Err another chance totally destroyed as she attempts to sound all professional and fails, yet again (in Jazbaa). She always acts like she thinks a great lawyer would act, she is mistaken, yes she acts, no it doesn’t make her seem like one. You just couldn’t believe she actually was one (or could be one). Ever heard the best criminal lawyer in the country talk to a judge? I haven’t in real life, and neither has ARB it would appear.
If not a woman in command we would appreciate a little comic timing. Alas, she has never been remotely funny : in the ‘comedy’ movie with Akshay kumar, Action Replayy, every time they argued after marriage, her grimace as they fought was neither realistic nor comic, only annoying. She can cry sometimes and look sad or dreamy as long as no words are spoken, like in Devdas. While Vidya Balan can be sexy and overweight, ARB never quite managed being sexy despite being perfect, not to me anyway ( I am not an adolescent or middle aged man, I suppose).That is not being an ice queen, it is simply someone who cannot deliver. Not even sharing the screen with Irrfan can cure that and apparently, the hand gestures that Shabana does NOT use, teach her nothing. If living with Jaya didn’t do anything, I suppose, Shabana never had a shot.
I must watch too many great British female actors, Amelia Bullmore who you know just is DCI, no nonsense superbly efficient, totally in control of her job as a police chief. But yes, I am comparing again… I apologize for being so critical. Actually, I don’t. I wish Irrfan hadn’t had to do a movie with her, but everyone has to make a living. And Irrfan could do that role half asleep anyway.
If having a thick skin and self -confidence was the job title, she would be good at it. Only, it isn’t. A thick skin is always great to have. Anyone who has drivers and three Bentleys is bound to have some self-confidence and they don’t need a thick skin. Its okay. She is (?, how much longer!!) just the face of India, right now, the PM is a bigger problem. He has the arms and controls the mind. Also, please go and watch Jazbaa because it should honestly be the last time one is forced to watch her and note the eyebrows and the desperate hands, the very last time.