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From Iruvar, Jeans to Ponniyin Selvan-1: A list of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's Tamil films

Aishwarya Rai, the former Miss World, began her film career with Mani Ratnam's Iruvar in 1997.

From Iruvar, Jeans to Ponniyin Selvan-1: A list of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's Tamil films
Stills from Iruvar, Shankar's Jeans and Ponniyin Selvan-1
  • S Subhakeerthana

Last Updated: 08.44 PM, Nov 01, 2022

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It is undeniable that Aishwarya Rai Bachchan gave some of her best performances in Mani Ratnam's movies. She began her career with Iruvar under the direction of the auteur in 1997. Mani Ratnam had given Bachchan some of her most memorable roles, like Pushpavalli, Sujatha and Nandini. The actress was able to excel in each of the films on which the duo later worked together. Mani Ratnam's vision and directing style are perfectly complemented by Bachchan's versatility and sensibilities. She played strong and realistic women characters, which set the movies apart from one another. 

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who recently turned 49, has featured in a few Tamil movies. Regardless of the number, she has a considerable fan base among Tamil moviegoers.

Here's a list of her Tamil films:

Iruvar

The 1994 Miss World beauty pageant winner had the debut of her dreams. Bachchan was cast opposite Malayalam superstar Mohanlal. In the acclaimed political drama, she played Pushpavali and Kalpana. The actress nearly succeeded in having the audience forget that this was her first film; thanks to her superb performance. As the submissive wife Pushpavalli, Bachchan provided a calm presence, while Kalpana, added a mischievous and playful spirit to the film. The difficult task of expressing such wide variations in a double role at her launch pad was one in which she excelled.

Jeans

In S Shankar's romantic comedy, Bachchan played the lead, alongside Prashanth. Jeans rode on its magnum opus promotional piece, the song that was filmed in front of the seven wonders of the world, and became the most expensive Indian film to be created at the time of its release (with a production budget of Rs 20 crore). How and why Jeans was selected as India's official entry to the Academy Awards in 1998 remains a mystery.

Abbas was initially considered for the twin roles of Vishwanathan and Ramamoorthy, but he turned down the project because he had commitments for the entire year of 1997. Due to call sheet issues, Ajith Kumar, the second choice for the lead role, also declined. The role was subsequently filled by Prashanth, who chose to focus solely on the project during that time, forgoing seven films in the process.

Bachchan took up the project, as she couldn't collaborate with Shankar on Kamal Haasan's Indian. Savitha Reddy ended up doing the dubbing after Bachchan initially attempted to do it in her voice.

Kandukondain Kandukondain

Following a few appearances in popular Hindi movies like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Taal, Bachchan made a comeback to Tamil cinema in 2000 with the romance drama, Kandukondain Kandukondain, by director Rajiv Menon. In the movie adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Sense & Sensibility, Bachchan portrayed Meenakshi. The diva, who shared the screen space with Mammootty, Ajith Kumar, Tabu, Abbas and Srividya, received favourable reviews for her restrained performance.

Sujatha Rangarajan translated Rajiv's Malayalam dialogues into Tamil after he first wrote the story in English. Despite receiving numerous offers for Hindi movies, Bachchan noted that she was a big fan of Menon's writing and could relate to the character very well, thus she accepted the offer.

Kandukondain Kandukondain was referred to as “evergreen” by Bachchan. Ajith, who played an ambitious director in the movie, is someone Aishwarya remembers clearly even though she was cast with Mammooty and Abbas.

Speaking about Ajith, Bachchan was quoted as saying, “He was professional and friendly. I'm overjoyed to see the level of popularity and support he is receiving from his fanbase. I also recall getting to know his family while the movie was being made. I'd love to congratulate him on his well-deserved achievement if we ever cross paths again!”

Guru

Many people are aware that the movie Guru was what first sparked Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai's romance. Abhishek stated in a previous interview that he used to stand on the balcony of his hotel room while filming in New York and think how great it would be if he and Aishwarya got married someday. The pair coincidentally attended the Guru movie premiere at the same hotel a few years later. Abhishek took Aishwarya to the same balcony and proposed to her, viewing it as a sign from the cosmos.

Ratnam has earned a reputation for getting cinema stars to pay closer attention than they typically do. Abhishek Bachchan portrays the brazen Gujarati villager who “hates to hear the word ‘no’” in the movie Guru.

Guru emerged as one of the most successful films of both actors' careers.

Raavanan

This is easily Bachchan's most genuine performance to date. Her eyes convey a lot—agony, relief, or confusion. Bachchan played a modern-day Sita in this one, which according to her, was the most challenging role in her career. "Mani's ability to immerse you in his universe through the narration sets him apart from other storytellers. I can identify with Ragini since she is an exceptional individual with a strong moral code," Bachchan was quoted as saying. The former beauty queen admitted that when Mani described the movie to her, she "became one with the role," which she thinks is unlike that of a typical heroine.

Enthiran

Following Jeans, Bachchan and S Shankar reunited in 2010. The actress was cast opposite superstar Rajinikanth. The movie, which cost Rs 150 crore to produce, ended up earning close to Rs 300 crore worldwide. Enthiran tells the tale of scientist Vaseegaran, who created the robot Chitti. After Chitti falls in love with Vaseegaran's girlfriend Sana, chaos ensues (played by Bachchan). The movie received positive reviews from viewers around the world after its release.

In an interview, Bachchan said, Shankar was a visionary. “The scale he presents in his stories is incredible, and I've always learned technical things from watching his movies.”

Ponniyin Selvan-1

In Ratnam's magnum opus, Bachchan portrayed Pazhavoor Queen Nandini. Ratnam often stated in interviews that he could only imagine Bachchan as Nandini. The movie, which was based on the title novel by the late Tamil author Kalki Krishnamurthy, made over Rs 480 crore at the box office. Bachchan's performance received favourable reviews, and now fans are eagerly awaiting the release of the movie's sequel, which is planned for the summer of 2023.

It has always been a privilege working with Mani Ratnam, Bachchan said at the PS-1 trailer launch. "Working with him for so many years, whether it was my first movie or this one, nothing had changed. I want to thank him for introducing me to movies. He has been and will always be my 'guru'," she was quoted as saying.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Ravi Varman on the set of Ponniyin Selvan
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Ravi Varman on the set of Ponniyin Selvan

Magic and mystique have defined the on-screen narrative from the first Tamil movie, Kalidas, in 1931 to Ponniyin Selvan-1. The movie reveals Nandini, who has a commanding presence, to be a political genius who manipulates many of the major events that occur.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan recently shared her thoughts, saying we “need to break away from the usual way of looking at the film industry,” amid the current north vs south cinema dispute, as the latter industry has been cranking out major pan-India hits.

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