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Interview with Aishwarya Rai

Aired June 17, 2010 - 16:49:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's been regarded as one of the most beautiful women in the world and it doesn't take long to figure out why.


FOSTER: But Aishwarya Rai has made sure she's more than just a stunning face.


FOSTER: The Bollywood siren is one of the most highly revered figures in Indian cinema and is recognized the world over.

In addition to dozens of Bollywood films, Rai has also starred in some Hollywood hits, such as "Pride and Prejudice" and "The Pink Panther 2."


AISHWARYA RAI, ACTRESS: How is the case coming?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me bring you up to speed.


FOSTER: She's also part of one of India's most famous film dynasties. Her marriage to fellow film star, Abhishek Bachchan, captured the country's attention and turned the duo into the golden couple of Bollywood. Today, Rai is starring opposite her husband in the much anticipated "Raavan".

Her face admired the world over, Aishwarya Rai is your Connector of the Day.

ABHISHEK BACHCHAN, ACTOR: She married me, man. Sorry.


FOSTER: Well, it's a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Earlier, I caught up with Aishwarya Rai.

I began by asking her, first of all, about this new huge film called "Raavan" that she's been working on.


RAI: It conjures up the very -- the very vivid image of a demonic king who had 10 heads. And he was this villain. The other protagonist in -- in the film are Vikram (INAUDIBLE), a police officer. So he is the keeper of the law, the so-called hero.

And there is me, Ragini, who is Dev's wife in -- in the narrative. And through my eyes, the audience goes on to see that through situations and circumstances, the so-called hero and correct human being and the so- called outlaw, you will see shades of black and white and gray in both of them.

So, really, who are we to judge human nature and decide who is right and who is wrong, to come away with it?

FOSTER: So what did you learn from the film?

Because I know the director said I want the audience to make their own decisions.

What's your...

RAI: What I learned?

FOSTER: Yes, what did you learn?

RAI: I learned working in two languages at the same time is really tough.

FOSTER: And there's a good and bad there.

RAI: Snakes swim. Leaches look like noodles before they suck on your blood. And it isn't easy scaling a waterfall, because there's a lot of moths on the rocks.

FOSTER: But it looks so glamorous.

RAI: It gets really -- it's -- it's not.

FOSTER: Bollywood is glamorous, isn't it?

RAI: Well, a lot of Indian movies are glamorous and this one, I guess, goes against convention. Well, amongst many. They're not all -- all necessarily glamorous. And especially this filmmaker, Mr. Mani Ratnam, is known to make a lot of cinema which -- which -- well, he struck this fine balance where it will be an entertainer, it will be the so-called commercial -- commercial format of an Indian film, and, at the same time, he brings an immense sense of realism to his narrative.

FOSTER: I've got some questions now from viewers.

Sultan from -- Sultan Karachi (ph) from Pakistan says that: "Bollywood movies don't seem to do well in foreign markets, whereas Hollywood movies do really well in India."

Do you agree with him?

You're in London so I know you're going to disagree with him.

RAI: No, no, no, no, no.


RAI: No, it's not because of this. I think people need to be -- do a lot more of their homework before these statements are made. It isn't true that Indian movies don't do well outside of India. One in six is an Indian in the world population, as we put it -- and put it mildly.

In terms of English movies doing well in India, there are many that do well and there are many that don't necessarily do great business at all. And I -- I can say that for a fact because when I have had worked and, OK, yes, very few English movies. But from their perspective, I've heard first person that India is a market which is very unpredictable for them for -- for English movies. It could do great business or it could be just a regular center. So it is very unpredictable.

FOSTER: Keira: "If you could choose one Hollywood actor or actress to work with in your next film, who would it be and why?"

RAI: A tough one, simply because I have never been good with these favorite questions, as in favorite film, favorite director, favorite actor. But...

FOSTER: You've got a favorite reporter now, though.

RAI: You, Max.


FOSTER: Can we get it on film?

She said yes.

RAI: No, that's -- that's such a tough one to answer. But good work, a good script and a great role for me is something that -- that I -- that all (INAUDIBLE)...

FOSTER: You're really going for the spirit of it, right?

RAI: And my role in -- yes, the entire picture.

FOSTER: Joseph Gonzales: "Is there anything that you feel you haven't achieved in your career yet?"

I can't imagine there is, because you've done so much so far. But, I guess, you know, you're ambitious, so there are things you still want to do.

RAI: Well, I -- I don't feel a sense of achievement in terms of my work so far. It's a sense of accomplishment in terms of the kind of work I've been doing, because this is what I sought to do when I started out. So it does feel good in terms of the body of work and the people I've been working with.

But, you know, this is ocean. Look at the world's population. There are so many women out there I still have left to assay. So it's -- as long as I have good work coming my way and I enjoy doing what I'm doing, I'm going to be here still, you know, doing what I do.

FOSTER: OK. You're actually a bit of a late comer for us, because we were already into your husband...


FOSTER: -- and your father-in-law.

RAI: Oh.

FOSTER: You are part...

RAI: There's a trick question coming my way.

FOSTER: You are now -- it's a real Bollywood dynasty now, isn't it?

What's it like being part of that?

RAI: You know, this wasn't an exercise in a statement when -- when we got married, it was just that Abhishek and me, we loved each other. We got the blessings of our families and -- which is great. And here we are married today.

Yes, we do recognize -- and if we didn't, we're reminded on a daily basis -- that, yes, this is a family of very established actors and personalities on the public platform. So, yes, my father-in-law, my mother-in-law, Abhishek and me all belong to this world. We do what we do and we do have an incredible amount of love and support from a very huge and vast audience out there. And thank you each -- each moment.

But having said that, really, this wasn't a statement making alliance. It was just two people getting married and very happy to be family today.

FOSTER: People are fascinated by you, though, aren't they?

RAI: It's kind of people like give us a sense of like we belong to this global family. And that kind of got underlined when we got married and we've come out in different job assignments. In fact, up until recently, we didn't realize -- because time is flying -- that it's been our third anniversary this April. And people come up to us and congratulate us like we're just married.


FOSTER: Aishwarya Rai speaking to her favorite reporter earlier on.

Now, tomorrow's Connector has soulful sounds and he's become a really big hit with music fans across the world now. But when he's not performing, Jason Mraz is addressing a hard-hitting issue, which is child slavery. Send us your questions for him. Head to