Now that B-town is abuzz with news of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s decision to step back into the spotlight, post her declaration to the Indian media about “reading scripts”, we are busy speculating which director would make the cut for her perfect comeback.
Ash, who had stepped away from Bollywood, post her pregnancy, to play out her mommy part, made exceptions only for the prestigious Cannes film festival on the French shores, an Indian jewellery endorsement, and a humanitarian role for the UNAIDS.
But, now that her little Aaradhya is turning a year old, Ash has stated that she’s ready to end her maternity leave.
With so many actresses, struggling to make an impact on the big screen after taking a break post marriage/pregnancy, it’d be interesting to see if Ash would win back her audience after her mini-sabbatical with a Sridevi-styled relaunch.
Considering Ash’s exit, post the fall-out with ‘Heroine’ director Madhur Bhandarkar was hugely documented in the media, her return could prove equally highlighted.
For an actress who has been extremely selective about her work, we think we’ve nailed the five directors who could present her with the most befitting “return gift”.
Topping our list is Tamil filmmaker Mani Ratnam, who launched Ash in his political, Tamil drama ‘Iruvar’ way back in 1997.
She was fresh out of the modelling circuit, yet he gave her the most spectacular launch ever.
They teamed up again for more significant movies like the poignant ‘Guru’ in Hindi and the multi-lingual emotional thriller ‘Ravan’/ ‘Ravannan’.
Although the rumour mills were abuzz with news of their new movie plan, the director’s wife has confirmed that he hasn’t offered Ash a part in his next movie, which is an adaptation of English writer Daphne Du Maurier's 'Rebecca'.
But, considering Mani has always pitched Ash in the most impressive roles, there’s no questioning that he’d offer her only the most challenging acting part, one that she wouldn’t be able to refuse.
His three movies can be safely termed as few of Ash’s finest performances in her 15-year movie career.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Although they’ve had their share of ups and downs, Sanjay and Ash have always patched up as good friends.
Her last movie, before taking on full-time mommy duties, was Sanjay’s ‘Guzaarish’. So, chances of him churning out another stunner script to welcome her back into Bollywood could be entirely possible.
In fact, he has never missed an opportunity to declare that Ash is his muse. “Aishwarya is my muse, my jaan and I get terribly excited when I make a film with her because she is very, very special. Some people are timeless and Aishwarya will be there for another 20 years,” he had stated during the promotional tour of ‘Guzaarish’.
It was his movies, ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ and ‘Devdas’ that won Ash the celebrated Filmfare best actress awards, giving her the much-needed push to rise up to the top Bollywood ranks.
There was a supposed fall-out after Ash refused to do his ‘Bajirao Mastani’ because of her unwillingness to team up with her “ex-lover” Salman Khan, but the two later patched-up and projected their tight friendship on the telly talk show ‘Koffee with Karan’.
There were even whispers of a secret comeback ploy that the two besties were working out, but nothing that we can confirm, just yet.
There’s no love lost between Ashutosh and Ash. They take every public outing to declare their love for each other.
And why not, they’ve both benefitted tremendously from their first magnificent cinematic alliance in the historical drama ‘Jodhaa Akbar’. Ashutosh had brilliantly captured Ash’s beauty, and talent, in marvelous frames as the fiery princess Jodhaa, never once allowing her to be outshined by the majestic Hrithik Roshan.
Their movie association apart, Ashutosh has always remained a Bachchan faithful, even stepping in during an award ceremony to openly announce that it was Ash, and not Priyanka Chopra, who should’ve won the best actress award. And, that too for his film ‘Jodhaa Akbar’.
He had remarked, “Priyanka I love you, but I don't know how you got the award for best actress when Aishwarya was also nominated in the same category for ‘Jodhaa Akbar’.”
Considering it’s tough to find such hardcore loyalists in Bollywood, Ash might profit from stepping into his cinematic world, again.
Just like every quintessential Bollywood heroine, even Ash did set foot into the YashRaj camp and sashayed down snow-clad mountains in chiffon sarees to peppy, romantic tunes.
Her link with Aditya Chopra in his romantic drama ‘Mohabbatein’ did win her a nomination at the Filmfare awards.
Known for his penchant for classy, romantic tales, and Ash’s current mommy status, there’d be no questioning the kind of fun roles he would offer her.
The only hiccup in this union is Adi’s “lover” Rani Mukerji, who is also Ash’s current frenemy. So, if the ex-besties can look beyond their silly differences, then this could prove a pot of Bollywood gold for Ash.
And, last but not the least, the man responsible for making the massive multi-lingual blockbuster ‘Robot’, which teamed Ash with the legendary Rajnikanth.
Even though the movie focused mainly on Rajnikanth’s histrionics, it allowed Ash to do a teeny bit more than just dolling up and pouting. Interestingly her father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan noticed mainly her killer dance moves. “Aishwarya looked smashing and danced like she had never danced before,” he told the Indian media.
But with Rajnikanth in a film, it’s tough not be outshined.
That said, this Tamil director is also credited with giving Ash an extravagant canvas in ‘Jeans’, where she played twin roles. From dancing around in exotic locations, and lavish set, it also explored Ash’s acting prowess considerably and won her massive box-office fame across Indian boundaries.
Surely, if she’s aiming for a big, Indian movie comeback, Shankar might just have the perfect script under his sleeve.