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Aishwarya Rai on a roll
Bollywood diva Aishwarya Rai is on a roll with a series of films ready for back-to-back release. The former Miss World, who is known for her picture perfect chiselled features, will rule the marquees in movies that are vastly different from one another, as she desperately tries to impress with her acting prowess.
"Umrao Jaan", the first of the lot and perhaps the most challenging, released Friday to mixed reviews. Even the most ardent of Aishwarya's critics could not help but be softened by the zealous efforts put in by the actress in the film. Most critics found the story slow-paced and laborious, but were not too stingy in giving points to Aishwarya and her co-star Abhishek Bachchan.
For Aishwarya, the ballgame has just begun. She will next be seen in Yashraj Films' "Dhoom 2" in an avatar that is an antithesis of her role in "Umrao Jaan". The big-ticket film - a sequel to blockbuster "Dhoom" - is will be released Nov 24.
Promos and posters depicting a toned-up, slimmed-down Aishwarya in sport clothing are already doing the rounds and have made the film's rights hot property. To fit the role, the actress underwent a strict fitness regime, results of which are for all to see.
Before the year-end, Aishwarya will be seen in Mani Ratnam 's much-anticipated film titled "Guru". This again is a period film but minus the grandeur of "Umrao Jaan" and stars Abhishek Bachchan in a pivotal role.
And then there is the much-publicised $67 million Hollywood period action adventure - "The Last Legion" - featuring Aishwarya. Distributed by MGM, the film that stars leading Hollywood actors is scheduled to hit the theatres in early January 2007.
Director Jagmohan Mundhra's Aishwarya-starrer "Provoked", which is based on a true story, has received rave reviews during its screening in film festival circuits.
Aishwarya, who turned 33 Nov 1, can also be credited for defying the invisible age ceiling in Bollywood. Till some years ago, heroines beyond 30 were either relegated to playing second fiddle in films or would simply retire. She is doing far better than most actresses her age.
Next year, Aishwarya will return to the marquees in "Jodha-Akbar" by Ashutosh Gowarikar and "Sarkar-2" by Ram Gopal Varma and perhaps a clutch of other films. With all these in stock, end 2006 and 2007 seem to be earmarked for Aishwarya.
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