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An exclusive one-to-one Interview with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
The bright and cool morning of March 11, 2015 in Kuwait saw one of the most elegant and beautiful women in the world descend on its shores. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan visited Kuwait to endorse Longines – a brand synonymous with the traits in her personality—elegance, beauty and commitment.
Strongly devoted to tradition, elegance, and performance- Longines has been based in Switzerland since 1832 and has outlets in over 140 countries. In order to strengthen their global presence further, Mr. Walter von Kanel, President of Longines and Mr. Ali Morad Behbehani- Behbehani Group President announced the partnership of Longines with the Behbehani Group by adding Longines to its multi brand boutiques and this announcement was graced by the presence of the Longines Ambassador of Elegance and former Miss World, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
Amidst the flurry of activity lined up for her during the day, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan took out time to chat exclusively with IndiansinKuwait.com (IIK). Following are excerpts from her conversation with Dr. Navniit Gandhi.
Navniit Gandhi: A hearty welcome to Kuwait!!! Is this your first visit to Kuwait?
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: This is my second visit actually to Kuwait…. However, the first time was when I was just an infant. Hence, practically—this one is the first visit.
Navniit Gandhi: What impressions do you have of Kuwait? Something that you have read or heard about Kuwait?
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: Of course, I have heard a lot about Kuwait and I have heard just about everything that one should hear. It’s been interesting so far, though quite brief as well. I just flew in yesterday night and a little bit I could see this morning. Of course, I have not seen so much that I can make profound statements but I do look forward to many more visits.
Navniit Gandhi: A question which has always intrigued me is that how does it feel to be admired and adored by millions of people worldwide? How does it feel to be looked up at by millions of admirers?
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: I genuinely believe that we are very blessed people; blessed to experience this kind of love and adulation. We wake up in the morning and get to do what we love. And, this itself is such a blessing. It is a privilege to call your passion your job. Having said all that, it is lot of hard work as well. It may sound flowery, which it is in a way, but there is a lot of hard work involved. I have worked all odd hours for the longest time in my life. After I became a mother, I laughed and said that probably it was all a training for this… I could then go for days without sleep, because I had already trained myself for vigorous work. Working hard has been my way of life for a very long time.
NG: Are the lives of celebrities more interesting than of those who aren’t?
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: Being a celebrity, one learns to adapt; to adjust with a wide spectrum of people all around. When we are making a movie, the unit becomes a family and we embrace the whole family. We are all in it together, creating a piece of imagination that a writer has written. Yes, our experiences are exciting and interesting.
A night before the Miss World contest, I was just a student, and then overnight I became a celebrity who got an opportunity to represent her country worldwide. For me, it was not about winning a beauty pageant; but rather it was about getting an opportunity to pursue my passion. I was surprised that my celebrity status was changing people’s perspective about Indian women, worldwide. And when people appreciate what you are doing and admire you for who you are, it all becomes worthwhile.
NG: Did life change much thereafter?
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: I went into films and became an actor, but I continued being myself. Perhaps because of this, my relationship with my audience went beyond the character I was playing on the screen. I felt a deep sense of love and connectivity with my audience. A lot happened in life thereafter. I got the opportunity to go to Cannes to represent Devdas; and then to represent my Indian film fraternity as a jury member… For the first time, an Indian was on the jury. There were a lot of firsts, I was blessed with. And I always felt encouragement and appreciation around me.
I could have continued doing what is technically the blockbuster cinema, but I quietly said to myself that let me break the pre-conceived notions. I acted in Tamil films and after Devdas, I worked with RItu parno Ghosh and did Choker Bali and Raincoat… Then I chose Bride and Prejudice, which was an English classic. I kept making different choices and the audience went on accepting me all along.
NG: How has life been as a whole?
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: On the whole, life has been a series of gratifying experiences. Even after my marriage with Abhishek, no matter where we went we were being congratulated for years thereafter. We are embraced by people who love us and treat us as family. I experienced that after Aaradhya’s birth too that there is a large family out there which loves me and it humbles me immensely, while also makes me want to do much more and give back more till my last breath. Love and positivity around you always makes you want to be a better human being.
NG: What do we look forward to now? What milestones are lined up?
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: Ohhh, I don’t know… (laughs…)
In terms of work, I am happy to be back on making movies now. It is challenging. The challenge does not as much lie in facing the camera, as much as it is in scheduling and rescheduling an entire day. Of course, I schedule my day according to Aaradhya’s day. There is Advertising and other commitments. I must give full credit to Sanjay Gupta now and Karan Johar ahead for their support all throughout which enables me to remain a committed professional while also remain an exceedingly committed mother. The love for either cannot be compared and should not be…
I want to experience giving to every aspect of my life that I take on as my responsibility. I do not like to take on more than I can on my plate if I can’t give back whole-heartedly. Jazbaa is already being made and a couple of movies are lined up for early next year.
NG: You have so many endorsements, social responsibilities, and other commitments for which you travel extensively. I have always wondered whether one still gets excited about travelling and going to distinct locales and experiencing varied ways of life? Or is travelling now just all about work, commitment, business etc.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: Of course, the excitement always remains… I have come to Kuwait and I did find myself wanting to discover it more. Travelling is something I have always enjoyed. My father has been a marine engineer and it’s probably in the genes… I love travelling and exploring new places. It’s important to see all around… the changing world and the changing ways of life.
NG: Another reporter from Lebanon whom I happened to meet outside told me that you are immensely popular in Lebanon. I was happy and proud to hear this… Let me also tell you that you are hugely popular here as well, and admired immensely by the natives in Kuwait.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: Oh, thank you so much. I would like to use this opportunity through IIK, IndiansinKuwait.com, to say Thank you to everybody for all the love and blessings and appreciation.
NG: You have come here to endorse Longines.. What is so special about this brand that you are associated with it as its Brand Ambassador for about fifteen years now?
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: The brand found me fifteen years ago, and I was happy to be on board. Brand-association is very much a part of our lives now… But it is important to recognise one’s responsibilities. For me, Brand-association is not just modelling for it. I need to feel a personal connect with the brand I am giving a face, name and voice to. When Longines came along, I knew about the timepieces but I discovered much more after my association happened. It has traditions spanning over 180 years… and I immediately connected with their motto: Elegance is an attitude. It is wonderful to be associated with a Brand that is so conscious and particular about its representation… Before me, they already had iconic representation. They go beyond looking out for celebrities. They stand for integrity and it matters to me. And, I personally do believe that elegance is an attitude!
Longines is also family now… and am glad of my association with it.
NG: There are many young aspirants to a career in Media, Advertising and Bollywood—in India and even in Kuwait. What would you say to them?
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: Firstly, I would say that the world is your playground… Go out, and discover for yourself your dreams. But you must be prepared to work hard for it. It isn’t a cake-walk…it isn’t all glitz and glamour. More importantly, do not just throw away your education, believing that this is an easy access to instant fame or higher income. I feel that there is a lot of this happening where in our students believe that there is quick money out there somewhere… Many seem to be happy with short-lived careers in the showbiz, instead of trudging along a long journey. Please do not be short-sighted.
You have to invest hard work, time and commitment. Make professional choices… Be prepared for a long career in your chosen field. Do not be allured by easy money and quick fame. Be far-sighted…
NG: That is quite relevant and sound an advice!!!
Well, we wish you the very best in all your endeavours, in your career and in your parenting…
Thank you for speaking exclusively to IIK.
Dr. Navniit Gandhi is an academician, writer and an author. Having published four Books, two e-Booklets, and over a hundred articles and columns in several newspapers and magazines in India, is a member of the Writers’ Forum, Kuwait and the Indian Women In Kuwait (IWIK). She is a regular writer at IndiansinKuwait.com
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