Aishwarya “Cannes” Rai

19 May

I’m afraid I will never understand what the Indian media makes of Cannes. It’s like they’re so enthralled by all the pretty people in all their pretty finery parading up and down the red carpet, that it’s completely slipped their attention that its a film festival comprised of the biggest movie snobs in the world. Yes, it’s full of Eurotrash and movie stars and glitzy parties on yachts but that’s merely the sideshow. The real business is all about the movies.

This is a crowd where even critics’ darlings like the Coen brothers slink out of the hall after gauging the mood in the theatre because when a movie gets booed in Cannes, it’s basically the creme de la creme of the international film community telling you you suck. And nobody wants to hear that.

Which is why I thoroughly enjoyed hearing, back in 2002, that Sanjay Leela Bhansali had taken his Devdas to screen in Cannes. The last time Indian cinema had been this welcome at Cannes had been in the 1950s – now Bhansali was taking his version of the 50s to the Cannes. I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed imagining the baffled faces of the international critics as Shahrukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai made their stilted, hammy way through the bloated script, drenched in what must have looked like bordello colors to the Europeans. Richard Corliss, one of the rare international reviewers who liked it, has said before that he was pretty much the only person left in the hall once the movie shuddered its way to a stop.

I love it when people raise a giant fuck you to the establishment. And in Devdas‘ case, I don’t think Bhansali even knew that was what he was doing. Icing on the cake.

Anyway, Devdas‘ drunken debut onto the world stage heralded another, more significant event – the emergence of Aishwarya Rai as a Cannes regular.

It’s rather unclear what she does in Cannes – I believe the French would sooner slather their crackers with Kraft cheese than screen the likes of Steve Martin’s Pink Panther, one of her upcoming movies, at Cannes – other than look pretty for L’Oreal but thank God she does that because otherwise the Indian media might have been forced to talk about the movies instead and that’s always a disaster.

So here you have it – Aishwarya Rai gilding the lily in everything from a parrot green Neeta Lulla outfit to a silvery off the rack (oh, the ignominy!) Armani. One ton of paint on her face and Jaya Bachchan dressed like a she-leprechaun lurking the background with trusty sidekick Amar Singh, and she still looks better than you, doesn’t she? Them’s the breaks, cupcake.

*click to enlarge image*


Posted by on May 19, 2008 in Celebrity, Entertainment, News


27 responses to “Aishwarya “Cannes” Rai

  1. M

    May 19, 2008 at 2:44 pm


    Wasn’t she on the Cannes Jury a few years ago? Couple of times maybe? It seems like the organizers at Cannes are as fascinated by her, as we are, by her presence at Cannes!

    That said, thankfully her look is improving – as I posted on Aspi’s blog – I think her body language in some of the dresses she’s wearing is so uncomfortable, she looks all awkward (and yes, despite that, way more beautiful than I could ever hope to be!) – but I loved her in the Fuschia dress this year.

    Jaya Bachchan – sigh. Poor lady. *Something* is wrong there….she was dressed just as horrendously at the Abhi-Aish wedding – she used to look so very elegant in the 70s/80s.


  2. Raja

    May 20, 2008 at 1:01 am

    Amrita, the tragic thing is that they’ll screen *absolutely anything* at Cannes, in the non-competitive section. So yeah, you gotta fork up some dosh, but they’ll show the Pink Panther 2.

    Remember when they premiered Jackie Chan’s Myth at Cannes and Time magazine compared our very own Ms Sherawat to Bardot? 🙂

  3. Gagan

    May 20, 2008 at 2:07 am

    They come off as such posers but I am not sure if the word applies. A poser is someone who puts on an act, a bit of flash, different from who he/she typically is. It implies a willful move away from normality for the purposes of show. These Bachans are 24/7 so there seems no normal, just this weird little bubble they inhabit. They have the act down and can even remember the lines they have to deliver for self deprecating irony but it seems like something they have to say to cover their tracks, they’re clones of some science experiment., desi stepford wives and husbands for public consumption, I’m convinced of it Amrita 🙂
    Oh except for Ash, she has no program for irony or self deprecating wit. She doesn’t need it. People look at her and just lose all their critical faculties. The best plan is not to look at her but that’s a lot easier said than done. 🙂

  4. Over Rated

    May 20, 2008 at 6:58 am

    Maybe Jaya Bachan was trying to out-leprechaun Sarah Jessica Parker?

  5. desigirl

    May 20, 2008 at 7:11 am

    Am I the only one who doesn’t like Aish? Or the only one fed up with the whole lot of them? No?

  6. Rada

    May 20, 2008 at 7:56 am

    “Jaya Bachchan dressed like a she-leprechaun..”

    So aptly put!

    Couldn’t stop chortling! 🙂

  7. Tanay

    May 20, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Amrita, is it Ash Rai or Ash Rai Bachchan or Ash Bachchan Rai ? just have this confusion…or does that hold good only for a few occasions…

    guess this lady is one of the brand ambassadors of L’Oreal, have seen some huge Ash billboards in Paris when i was there….may be she uses this time to work for the endorsements, and better not work on more disasters for viewers to watch….

    i feel next year onwards, junior Bachchan would also start endorsing for some global apparel chain in Paris, else what else would he do when in Cannes as the paparazzi would be wooing his wife…don’t you feel he took his parents this time becos he won’t feel lonely when his lady is out posing for the lensmen 🙂 don’t you think that was a game plan 😉 courtesy his uncle+strategy manager, amar singh…

  8. Ian

    May 20, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Hi Amrita,

    Firstly, can I say “thanks” for Aish2 – she looks (even more) gorgeous in that photo.

    Here’s a link that suggests business is being done at Cannes this year:

  9. Amrita

    May 21, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    M – I agree, there’s a world of difference between how she looked the first couple of times and how she looks now. I just wish she’d lay off the pancake. if ever a woman didnt need it, its Ash Rai.
    And she was on the jury the year after she went as part of the Devdas entourage. I remember thinking that must have been her reward from God for putting up with the Bhansali nonsense of carriages and SRK in a tux. That man was simply not made for a bowtie.
    Jaya B needs to invest in some simple sarees. Short people are not made for the outfits she likes to sport.

    Raja – I remember that whole Mallika hysteria! wtf was that about anyway?! she forgot her dupatta at home and every body was like oooh, aaah, so sexay! rakhi sawant should go. she’d make a killing.

    Gagan – have you read maximum city? coz I swear to god, this is exactly the impression i got from that book!

    OR – canNOT be done. that woman is in a class by herself 😀

    DG – well i’m definitely fed up with the lot of them. what the hell happened to Abhishek is what I want to know. he was hot for a nanosec and then turned into THIS. ew.

    Rada – well she is!

    Tanay – it’s downright creepy how Amar Singh tags along absolutely everywhere. its like he has them under constant surveillance or something. AB must owe him something big.

  10. Jayalakshmi

    May 21, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    Glad someone writes about waht Ash does in Cannes!. A great piece too.. Thanks. Could not help my loud laughter.. 🙂

  11. fas

    May 22, 2008 at 6:57 am

    Even i wondered what Aish does at Cannes except dressing up in Neeta Lulla outfits.

  12. Ian

    May 22, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Hi Amrita,

    (I’m submitting this a second time, although if you opt not to publish, that’s up to you. But just in case you didn’t get the first).

    I noted in this article in the Times, that there is some “real business all about the movies” being done.

  13. Gagan

    May 22, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    that book kind of sealed it for me Amrita 🙂
    They seemed as weird in their private life as they do in their public

  14. narendra shenoy

    May 22, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Comment by a member on the wodehouse fan group that I belong to.

    “Aishwarya madam’s problem is that she’s a horse. I know that casual observation does not reveal this fact. Indeed, many misguided folk have asserted that she is a very pretty woman. She might look like one, no denying, but if you see her dance, you will be readily convinced of the truth. Which is that she is a horse, trained to participate in equestrian dressage events of the highest level. Princess Anne, a former Olympian equestrian champ, had to be physically restrained from putting a saddle on her, if rumors are to be believed.”

    Sigsbee “Honest Joe” Waddington

  15. Avinash

    May 23, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Amazingly well written. While on the topic of the Bachans (or however that name is spelt), some samaritan should take upon himself or herself the task on explaining the mystery of that balding toad amar singh who tags along to every social gala that this family goes to. I am sure he has got some black mail thing going. Why else would someone like Amitabh take this jerk to Cannes? What does he do there anyway?!? Shop for Harry Potter DVDs?

  16. sachita

    May 23, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    I am used to such mysteries in life. I am from Tam. land. the land of sasikala and Jayalalitha.

  17. Amrita

    May 25, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Jayalakshmi – I aim to please 😀

    Fas – she’s switched to Armani in recent years. Now she needs to get him to design for her.

    Gagan – shoud’ve guessed. have you been following his blog? it’s absolutely fascinating to see him turn human.

    NS – thus proving what I’ve always suspected: horses are aliens!

    Avinash – according to the Big B’s blog, Amar Singh apparently used to “live with them” back when they were growing up or something. I’m starting to get BenHur type subtexts from them 🙂

    Sachita – yup, that should do it.

  18. Gagan

    May 26, 2008 at 7:40 am

    natch, that predictable am I. ” absolutely fascinating” is it? He is trying. Seriously, have no doubt he’s human or the rest of them for that matter. Mehta did them a disservice in his book by not putting in the provisos. I’ve noticed Indians put on a show for visitors everywhere you go. we all tend to be like that. a little melodramatic and showy for visitors. although he satirized the encounter to a greater degree for the Bachans ( just fun to kick the have mores) . The good side of that external affect is the genuine excitement and hospitality that informs people’s reactions to guests in India. Mehta took advantage of that time and time again for that book and yet did not bring enough attention to it. He was open with his personal history, but he would not bring the same scrutiny to his own family’s dynamic. In that way he set himself off and came off as translator of the exotic to an interested but removed audience. It made for a really interesting book but not the whole story,and yes a huge betrayal. I’ve read Vikram Chandra and family no longer speak to him. Sure the Bachans will be the same. u can’t fault the old guy for going out quietly. The blog works for him, seems like he has a lot to say and it comes off better in that format than the dialogues he’s always spouting.

  19. Amey

    May 28, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Ooh, did you see the photo of Bachchan family going to Siddhivinayaka? Aish looks like she is sleep-walking (with Abhishek guiding her)

  20. Gagan

    May 28, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    same Waugh excuse here. Disregard that first bit or add the smiley faces after them. Honestly I know for a fact that when we all read similar books we end up being able to guess the next thought. Not that defensive about that or my lack of originality 🙂

    To tell you the truth it was absolutely fascinating. I just didn’t want to make the admission. 🙂

  21. Amrita

    May 30, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Gagan – I just finished reading Patrick French’s Naipaul biography and I have to say it kind of gave me the glimpse into what you’re saying about Mehta that I didnt get before: I’d always thought it was borderline skeevy but figured he must have given them some indication of what was coming even if he didn’t tell them exactly what – but reading the other side of Naipaul’s travelogues made me understand just how unbearable it can all get. You should read that book, btw. it’s one of the best bios I’ve ever read. I keep meaning to do a review but can’t find the time or the words. it’s not easily reduced.

    The blog is so strange to me, on the one hand it’s him taking up cudgels in defence of the Bachchan myth but by doing so, he shatters it a bit more on the other hand. But he is totally the kind of man who’d write an email telling a biographer that he would “fight her till the last breath in my body” as he reportedly wrote Jessica Hines. Hee hee. So filmi. It’s like I can see the man who grew up in an intelllectual’s household but he’s all fogged over by this very fimli presence. So now every time he tries to take the high road, I think he’s grandstanding.

  22. Amrita

    June 2, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Hi Ian – so sorry, I havent been checking my spam queue and you ended up there. thank you for the link. Yeah, Cannes has just been weird this year: the movies they’ve been buying, the ones they’ve been showing and now the Ambanis dipping a toe in showbiz… lord knows what the hell is going on.

    That pic you liked is from the year after she caught all the flak about her Jury wardrobe and I dont think she really liked what she was wearing (she tends to dress more conservative) but she carried it off i think. esp when they chose to stick her next to rail thin model types.

  23. Gagan

    June 3, 2008 at 6:50 am

    It seems like a fine line you have to tread Amrita. In writing that kind of book Mehta had an amazing focus and it produced an amazing result but I came away from reading it, admiring the work but disliking the man.

    I’ve made the usual indignant remarks about Thackeray and co to friends in Bombay and heard them say “it’s easy for you to say that. You don’t live here” It’s fairly tense there from the way I understand and you do have to be careful. Mehta would know that better than anyone. He seems disarming too, I am a small non-violent Guju etc, but he really must have left some people in a lurch. I think of that police captain.

    The reason i doubt he was completely honest is cos I read a sonia faleiro interview with Vikram Chandra where he says they felt ambushed cos he never revealed how thoroughly he was going to divulge all of their secrets, acted like a friend and put everyone at ease. He must have done that throughout . It’s just wrong. They opened up to him like this was going to be a long term friendship and he just dished on them. It may be why I can’t re-read that book whereas I can re-read dalrymple or kunzru over and over again. They can tell the story without losing sense of that civic awareness that Mehta seemed to think was lacking in India but of which he seemed to demonstrate a real blindspot.
    At the same time, I do like it when writers take a strong stand and Mehta definitely did that and I really don’t like to add credence to that school of criticism that says outsiders should not write about India or Indian themes ( I’ve read you criticize it along with kunzru, ali, chandra) as if it were some propietary thing. I think the best perspectives come from outsiders who have like Rushdie has said, have an immigrants stereoscopic vision, seeing old and new cultures at the same time. The way pankaj mishra makes such insightful forays into free market assumptions which even if you dont’ agree with him are still eye opening. Even though there is so much that I don’t like about what Naipaul has said about India and disagree I am glad he said it and the way he said cos it gives focus to your own perspective, enlarges the debate, arguing with him.
    must read the French book and you must write the review,

  24. Gagan

    June 3, 2008 at 7:03 am

    rambled so long that I almost forgot the point.. I guess having a critical mindset needs to become a habit when you read writers. It occurred to me when I wrote that blurb about thinking how odd the Bachans were when all I had to go on was Mehta’s book. He clearly satirized their Indian hospitality when there were so many other ways he could have done it. Sure they’re filmi but they do have a real side. would have been cooler if he had been more self deprecating and less judgemental the way kunzru or dalrymple tend to be- brought up in that world so feel more comfortable with that style, i think

  25. shweta

    June 3, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    I finally discovered your site!
    And i totally love it 🙂 I’m going to be browsing through now…

  26. Prasanth

    July 5, 2008 at 2:03 am

    A bit late in the day I know but still!

    You have raised a very valid and significant concern. We have a proverb in Malyalam which talks about the worship of an idol being totally disproportionate to its importance. While that’s a common scenario, Aishwarya and Cannes deserve special mention in this regard.
    Have used your post for this:

%d bloggers like this: