I'm not the heroine in 'Heroine', says Aishwarya

Aishwarya Rai (GETTY/GALLO)

Indian actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's next movie sees her playing a Bollywood superstar, but on Friday she said it would not be a biopic of her own glamourous life.

Promoting "Heroine" at the Cannes film festival, the former Miss World - who has starred in more than 40 Indian movies - said she would be creatively at the mercy of director Madhur Bhandarkar.

"It's not a biography, it's not an autobiography for sure," said Rai, 37, with a laugh as she fidgeted with her hair. "You hear this today, at the very beginning, so know this until the very end."

When asked by AFP how much of the story she could identify with, she teasingly replied: "That's to tickle your fancy."

"I think that is what the viewer will probably be searching for," she added, "but it must always be remembered that the actor does what the director has visualised and envisioned for a particular character.

"I'll be playing a character called Mahi, but it's a character that's been written and conceptualised by the director."

"Heroine" will mark the first time that Rai has worked with Bhandarkar, who has a track record of peering into the lifestyles of India's rich and famous with such films as "Fashion" and "Page 3".

"One thing I would like to clear up: it ("Heroine") is nothing to do with the film industry or what you call 'Bollywood' or the Indian film industry," the leather-jacketed Bhandarkar said.

"It is the individual journey into the internal life and conflict of this girl ... and how her life goes up and down, the trauma and turbulations that she goes through in her life."

Ronnie Screwvala, chief executive of producer UTV Motion Pictures, said "Heroine" - to start shooting in mid-2011 - was written expressly with Rai in mind.

Explaining why he was launching the project in Cannes, Screwvala alluded to Rai's star power: "She is the brand ambassador for India and for Indian cinema when it comes to the French Riviera."

Rai said: "I'm so glad finally that we've come together to work on this movie. ... I'm totally at home with UTV, and Madhur and me have been interacting for so long. I'm really looking forward to this creative journey together."

No Indian filmmakers are in competition this year at Cannes.

But the festival will salute India's film industry Sunday with an al fresco public screening of "Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told," produced exclusively for the event by acclaimed filmmaker Shekhar Kapoor.

It will pay homage to a genre "that has contributed to establishing India's identity in the eyes of the world and to making Mumbai one of the world capitals of film history," organisers have said.

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