Pic courtesy: L’Oreal Paris
Now, will they stop? After she showed up at Cannes today, looking like a woman who can still turn heads without conforming to the yardstick of global superstardom, will they stop? But she can’t win. Not Aishwarya Rai. When she was thin and beautiful, she was plastic and way too perfect for our liking. Now that she isn’t, we have videos and gossip columns laughing at her to the sound of trumpeting elephants. What is this complex relationship between her and us? I have written about it for years, trying to understand the rage and loathing and hysteria she evokes when faceless Internet stalkers call her vicious names on sites, drag her virtually over coals for daring to dump a certain hero, insinuate the worst kind of things about her marital life and yet can’t seem to move beyond her. She is on hoardings, on the back of buses and autorickshaws, websites and such is the curiosity about her baby that people have been morphing pictures of Ash and strange babies and floating them around.
Her weight had become a matter of national concern. Columnists wondered, how she would face the international press at Cannes with her double chin and baby pounds? Was she going to wear a saree? A gown? A curtain? Should she not disappear till she gets back into shape? For years, her detractors laughed at the claim that she was India’s most famous export and now they were worried about the picture she would cut amongst svelte beauties sheathed in gowns that reveal more than they hide. Because she owes it to us to be Aishwarya Rai. Icy, distant, unattainable, impossibly perfect so that she can be hated. Not fat and motherly. Anyone can get to be that.