Aishwarya Rai was born in Mangalore, Karnataka on November 1, 1973. Dubbed by the media as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” she started out as a model during her college years when she won a supermodel contest organized by Ford in 1991. She was eventually featured in Vogue magazine in the US. In 1994, she won second place to Sushmita Sen who won the crown in the Miss India pageant. She went on to represent India in the Miss World pageant held that same year. She then won the title of Miss World 1994, and also received the “Miss Photogenic” and “Miss World Continental Queen of Beauty (Asia & Oceania)” awards. She spent a year in London as an ambassador of peace after winning the crown, and did more modelling before pursuing acting.
Aishwarya Rai’s first acting gig was the 1997 Mani Ratnam film, “Iruvar” which won the Best Film award at the Belgrade Film Festival. However, she received numerous negative criticisms on her acting in the film, and in other films such as her first Bollywood film “Au Pyaar Ho Gaya” (1997) and “Aa Ab Laut Chalen” (1999).
Rai’s big break came when she played the lead role in the 1999 romance film “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.” Critics praised her dramatic acting, and eventually won a Filmfare Award for Best Actress for her role. She also received praise for her acting and dancing skills in the musical film “Taal.” She continued to appear in critically successful films and received numerous major award nominations in India and abroad until the early 2000’s. Rai received international recognition when she starred in the British film “Bride and Prejudice” (2004).
Rai also did a slew of worldwide stage performances. The first being a concert series called “Craze 2001” which was unfortunately cut short due to the 9/11 attack in New York. In 2008, in probably her biggest stage production, the “Unforgettable Tour” kicked off in the US, London, Canada, and Trinidad. Her husband Abhishek Bachchan, father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan, actors Preity Zinta, Ritesh Desmukh, and Madhuri Dixit also starred in the production.
Aishwarya Rai is currently a UN Spokesperson and supports several humanitarian causes to help the less fortunate and sick people both in her country of India and around the world. She was also appointed as the international Goodwill Ambassador for UNAIDS wherein she raises awareness in protecting children around the world from HIV.