No fan of Bollywood can go through their best projects ever from the industry without having to mention some from the long list of Aishwarya Rai movies. The highly decorated actress is one of a few people that can be singled out as having contributed immensely to the Indian film industry, something she has been able to do by bringing the attention of the world to it thanks to her exploits outside acting.
Before appearing in front of the camera, Rai, who trained in classical dance and music for five years as a teenager, worked as a model. She appeared in a number of television commercials, most notably for Pepsi, and featured in the American edition of Vogue. She later went on to enter into the Miss India pageant in 1994, where she placed second. Her first runner-up spot gained her entry into the Miss World pageant which she won, further elevating her status worldwide.
As many other models all across the world have done, Aishwarya Rai made the transition from the runways of the modeling world to the red carpet of movie premieres, a move that has surely gained her more fame and fortune. Here is a compilation of her work, ranked from the good to the average to the not so good.
Aishwarya Rai Movies and TV Shows
1. Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999)
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (which translates in English to I Have Given My Heart Away, Darling) is undoubtedly one of Aishwarya Rai’s best displays as an actress. The Indian Hindi-language romantic drama, which was directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and released internationally as Straight From the Heart, won 7 awards from 16 nominations at the 45th Filmfare Awards. Rai was one of the recipients of an award from the movie as her outstanding performance in a lead role earned her the coveted Best Actress award. She further received Best Actress awards at the Zee Gold Awards, Zee Cine Awards, Star Screen Awards, and the 1st IIFA Awards for her performance.
The film, which critics lauded for its emotional content, cinematography, and music, is about two people who fall in love but are not allowed to be with each other because the girl’s parents had already given her hand in marriage to another man. The arranged marriage goes on to take place but the girl’s husband soon realizes that their marriage is not meant to be.
2. Devdas (2002)
Based on the 1917 Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel of the same name, Devdas is an Indian romantic drama film that was directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and features other stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit. The film was critically acclaimed by both Indian and western film critics, who generally consider it to be one of the greatest films ever made. TIME magazine named it the best movie of 2002 and has further included it in the top 10 movies of the millennium worldwide. Other notable nods it received include being India’s submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and a nomination at the British Academy Film Awards.
Set in the early 1900s, the film is about a wealthy law graduate who returns from London to India to marry his childhood sweetheart but is met with rejection from his own family, prompting him to descend into alcohol abuse as he seeks refuge with an escort. For her performance as the childhood sweetheart, Rai received her second Filmfare Award for Best Actress. She also picked up awards at the International Indian Film Academy Awards, Zee Cine Awards, and Star Screen Awards for her performance.
3. Jeans (1998)
Jeans ranks as one of the best Aishwarya Rai movies as it was her first commercially successful film. The big-budget Tamil romantic drama, which was the most expensive film to be made in Indian cinema at that time, was directed by S. Shankar and featured other big names like Prashanth and Nassar in the lead roles. Jeans was India’s official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 1998 Academy Awards, however, it did not make the final shortlist.
The film is about an Indian family comprising of two siblings and an ailing grandmother who travel to the United States in order to seek medical treatment. Things, however, do not go on as straight forward though as doctors make a mistake in the medical procedure, leading to a battle for compensation and an unlikely love story.
4. Jodhaa Akbar (2008)
Jodhaa Akbar is another critically and commercially successful film that the former Miss World pageant winner has appeared in. Co-written, produced and directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, the historical romance film features other stars like Hrithik Roshan, Sonu Sood, and Kulbhushan Kharbanda. It took home five Filmfare Awards, seven Star Screen Awards, and two National Film Awards. On the international scene, it won the Audience Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the São Paulo International Film Festival and two awards at the Golden Minbar International Film Festival.
The film is about the romance between Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar, the third Mughal Emperor, and the Rajput Princess Jodhaa Bai who goes on to become his wife. Aishwarya Rai, who plays Princess Jodhaa, won the Best Actress (Popular Choice) award at the Screen Awards for her performance.
5. Raincoat (2004)
Adapted from The Gift of the Magi (1906), one of the many short stories by American writer O. Henry, Raincoat is an Indian drama film that tells the story of two lovers who are separated by destiny but however come to meet each other again after six years.
For her performance in the film, Rai was nominated for the Filmfare Best Actress Award and Star Screen Award Best Actress. She however only managed to win at the Zee Cine Award for Critics’ Choice Best Actress while the film took home the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi. It was further nominated for the Crystal Globe for Best Feature Film at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
6. Dhoom 2 (2006)
Dhoom 2, the second installment in the Dhoom film series which is the second-largest Bollywood film franchise in terms of box-office revenue, is the first film from the action thriller genre to appear on this Aishwarya Rai movies and TV show compilation. The Indian Hindi-language film, which features an all-star cast of Hrithik Roshan, Abhishek Bachchan, Uday Chopra and Bipasha Basu in lead roles, centers around a team of law enforcement officials who attempt to capture wanted, professional thieves.
7. Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000)
Based on English writer Jane Austen’s novel, Sense and Sensibility, Kandukondain Kandukondain (which translates to I have seen, I have seen) is an Indian Tamil language romance film about the relationship between two sisters and their love interests, one of whom is in a love triangle with a military man who lost his leg in war and a businessman, while the other dates a film director that she later comes to odds with.
8. 23rd March 1931: Shaheed (2002)
This Indian Hindi historical biographical film is based on Indian socialist revolutionary, Bhagat Singh, whose acts of violence against the British in India and subsequent execution made him a folk hero in the Indian independence movement. The film, which was directed by Guddu Dhanoa, depicts the events that led to him and his companions’ death on 23 March 1931.
Despite the popularity of the person the film dramatizes, it was a huge box office flop, making it one of the bad Aishwarya Rai movies on this list. To be fair, the actress had very little to do with the film as she only made a special appearance in a song. Critically, however, Shaheed was appreciated and its soundtrack was also well received.
9. Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya (1997)
Perhaps Rai gets a pass for her poor performance in this movie that marked her debut as a Hindi film actress. The film was a commercial failure and reviewers were very critical of the beauty queen’s acting ability, even though she still managed to win a Star Screen Award for Most Promising Newcomer – Female.
The film, which was directed by Rahul Rawail and starred Bobby Deol, revolves around Rai’s character, Aarshi Kapoor, who finds herself fighting her parents due to her reluctance to get into an arranged marriage as she appeared to have fallen in love with someone else.
10. Albela (2001)
Despite having already gained the reputation of being a very good actress, Aishwarya Rai’s performance in Albela was panned by critics, one of whom described her as being “plastic in some scenes”. It further did not help her cause that the directing of the film was poor and the script was even poorer, all of which has contributed in its ranking as the worst on the list of the revered actress’ movies.
The film is about the supposed romance between a tour guide, who is told by a fortune teller that a princess from overseas will change his life, and a tourist from Austria who visits the hometown of her mother in India. While the tour guide believes the tourist is in-love with him, this is not the case, prompting an awkward exchange between everyone involved.