Ever since I discovered her, I have seen Ash as a wonder, a miracle of womanhood. Or of creation. One hears sometimes that Creation isn’t perfect, that it isn’t finished, that it’s flawed with sin and marred with injustice. Well, for once, on that face, we have it: perfection, grace, harmony. Given God’s creative powers, perhaps we should say it’s nothing very special? But this face shows this power superlatively. As with other beauties of the world, Ash gives the impression she has been given something that comes from outside this world, from a place where all is peace and luxury, order and innocence. Such is the charm of beauty that it strikes you as not ours, but only lent to us for a while from above. When she lays her eyes on you (never happened to me, but photos do that trick quite well!), when she looks in your eyes, she pulls you into that spiral of ecstasy, in which thought loses itself: who’s looking at me? What’s happening? Where am I being drawn to?
And something happens to language too: I remember one admirer's fabulously laudatory prose, a person who went by the name of "Aishbaby" on the now inactive Aishwarya-Forever.com website (This website has now been revived under the name Aishwarya-Spice.com). Here are a few examples of this extraordinary writer as he was commenting on some of Aish's photos:
- oh shit!!!!! she is killing me with her beauty!!!! i cant breathe!!!!!
- oh (...) who the hell are you???????? how is it possible for someone to be sooo beautiful and perfect????????? god reallllllly loves you!!!! she looks soooo lovely and really elegant!!! she is such a tease eh....humph i love you aish!!!!
- oh god it is offical i am dead!!! my breath is slowly escaping from my body!!! god this woman is sooooo beautiful and perfect!!!
- *drops to the floor*......i am deAd!!!! that woman is perfection hottness sexiness embodied!!!
- holy crap!!!!! where the hell did this woman come from?!!? definitely not earth!!! she came straight from heaven!!!! she really is a wonder of the world!!!! look at those eyes and those lips!!!ughh there are no words to describe her beauty in the english language!!!!!! perfect!!!
- whoa!!!!!!!!! gasp!!!!!!!!!! sooooo gorgeous and beautiful and sexy!!
- ahhhhhhh!!!!!!......ok i seriously just died and went to heaven!!!!!......(gay moment)......i am in awe and shock!!!!.....sooo hot...
(and there must have been hundreds of such exclamations, for the website contains 14720 photos, so even if he hasn't commented on all the pics, you can figure...)
Below is one of the photos that elicited such a torrent of lava-like admiration. I remember having SUCH incredible fun visiting that site, sigh...
(30/11/2010: Ha! I found an access to Aishbaby's profile and collection of screams: PRESS HERE! But you don't have access any more to the actual conversations that used to be going on between the comment posters, unfortunately, and it seems the comments aren't enabled now) (here's my page: I have "only" 15 pages of comments - Aishbaby's got 159...)
Anyway, I am sure you can see now how poised I am! But even considering that, I realise that I'm biased, of course, that beauty is subjective, for a part. But it also has its objectiveness. Anyway, my question is: how does she cope with all that? I have often heard her say that she thinks she has been blessed, and blessed she has been, no doubt. But she says it, I’m sure, not only in reference to her family, her personality, her opportunities, but also, in a more general way, about her face. Because obviously, that’s how it all started for her. Or if she doesn't want to attract people’s attention to her looks specifically, I believe it’s for her a way to be honest, and admit that not everyone has been that lucky. And of course there’s this constant struggle to exist “behind” or “despite” her face. To work hard, to be praised for what she does, and not only for how she looks. She knows this is wrong: she doesn’t deserve any praise for how she looks. But she’s the one who has to cope with that double standard. And naturally, she knows she has taken advantage of it, and still does, even if she is aware of the limits of that advantage.
But, well, I suppose she tells herself: I’ve been given that beauty, it’s not mine, I have to share it and show it. AND she has probably also asked herself: how much can I (should I) use that face to my personal advantage? To say the truth, I think she controls this dilemma well: compared to other icons of beauty which the media has fed on, and sometimes crushed, she has seemingly managed to remain cool, and to perform her duty of beauty queen with ease and good humour. I remember reading on a questionnaire she had accepted to fill that "nothing" about her body was artificial, and "nothing" was written in capital letters, as if she knew that in her position, people wouldn't believe her if she said it too casually. Remaining natural in the world of artificiality where everything is based on one's image, and well, she's trying to do that.
I like to think that her success is a result of the fact that she’s an Indian woman, that her Indianness, her culture, her values have protected her against being too much “vampirised” by the media (this is French word which means the blood of her seductiveness could be dried up the ever-thirsty media). Of course I know she is much courted, adored and web-sited, but I mean that she has been able to resist any real debasing or compromise of her moral standards. It is probably also due to her smart sense of what she represents and of how she sees her career. She's a very brainy person: it shows in the way she deals with that image of herself, which the media throw back at her; it shows in her acting, too, I think. That controlled way of dealing with herself.
She has managed to become a tolerably good actress, especially when well directed (Raincoat, Guru), and then we watch her performance not just because we have a pleasant face to see, as it is the case in other films. But, consciously or not, she has accepted a certain manipulation of her person’s beauty. Or let’s say a certain use of it. It’s the dilemma described above. Her early films are nearly all pretexts to watch that amazing face of hers. And even some of the latest, apparently. I haven’t seen Dhoom II, but from what I’ve read, it seems rather dull. Very Bollywood-like, though, no doubt. Mistress of Spices was rather disappointing. But Ash has that intelligence and taste which should perhaps make her help Bollywood move towards the best of what it can do. Devdas was that, Khakee too, and I would add Hum Dil De Chuke sanam. And I repeat my two best choices, Raincoat, and last year’s Guru.