Calling Aishwarya Rai Bachchan a Cannes veteran would be the understatement of a decade. It's the 11th time the star is walking the red carpet getting plenty of practice time to perfect her pout. This year though it looks like she's going to be getting bouquets her way, unlike last year where the press labelled her a fatty in a frock.
Good, bad, ugly one thing cannot be denied, Aishwarya is the single biggest import from Bollywood. Having traveled across Europe, I've seen no other Bollywood star is as prominently displayed on murals and hoardings. You'll find Ash peering at you in posters stuck on bus stops in quaint villages.
In fact the minute you let people know you're Indian, the next word that usually occurs is either Aishwarya or Shahrukh Khan, followed of course by a bad version of a Bollywood jig!
It's been a roller coaster ride for Aishwarya. Her association with the film festival goes back to the days when she and Shahrukh accompanied by Sanjay Leela Bhansali showed up to promote Devdas. Though what did hog the limelight was her hideous collection of monstrosities she wore one after the other. Though i suspect the foreign press was none the wiser about her choice of wardrobe. It was however, the Indian press and fashion fraternity that looked on in horror and gasped at every new kitschy Neeta Lulla number she pulled out.
Fat or fit, Aishwarya has honed herself into a beauty of international palate. Dressed impeccably in her favourite designers Eli Saab and Sabyasachi Mukherjee, she has the world at her feet. This year though she's got Paa to give her company. Amitabh Bachchan has graced the red carpet on his own steam as cast member of The Great Gatsby.
Here's to many more years of Aishwarya at the Cannes Film Festival!