Beyond the ramp
By Aarti Kapur Singh
For years, they’ve been the toast of the Hindi film industry and have added a considerable dose of glitter and glamour to the silver screen. But how did these eight beauties of Bollywood find themselves on the path to fame and fortune? Well, each has her own story of metamorphosis – from gawky ducklings to glamorous swans. Here’s the story of Bollywood’s glam divas as we rewind to the beginning of their journey to success.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Aishwarya Rai’s career took off as soon as she was crowned Miss World in 1994. Her modelling debut was in the famous Pepsi commercial with Aamir Khan as ‘Sanju’. Hemant Trivedi, Ash’s close friend and a famous designer, gave her the first break as a model. Rai made her acting debut in 1997 with Mani Ratnam’s Tamil film ‘Iruvar’, a semi-biographical political drama featuring Mohanlal, Prakash Raj, Tabu and Revathi.
Anushka had no aspirations to be an actress and was content being just a model. She began her ramp career at the Lakme Fashion Week as a model for the Wendell Roderick ‘Les Vamps’ show. She was picked as Wendell’s finale model at the Spring Summer ’07 Collection. Since then she has done campaigns for Silk & Shine, Whisper, Nathella Jewellery and Fiat Palio. Her first acting role was in Aditya Chopra’s ‘Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’ (2008) opposite Shahrukh Khan.
Bipasha Basu was spotted by supermodel Mehr Jesia (now Rampal) at a hotel in Kolkata, who suggested that she should take up modelling. In 1996, she won the Godrej Cinthol Supermodel Contest and the Ford Models Supermodel of the World contest. Bips was flown to New York by the Ford Company and began a successful modelling career at just 17. Vinod Khanna offered her a role alongside his son Akshaye in ‘Himalay Putra’, but she declined. On returning home, Jaya Bachchan convinced Bipasha to star opposite her son Abhishek Bachchan in JP Dutta’s ‘Aakhri Mughal’. However, the film was never made and finally in 2001, the Bong beauty finally made her debut opposite Akshay Kumar in Vijay Galani’s ‘Ajnabee’, directed by Abbas Mustan, and inspired by ‘Consenting Adults’.
Deepika began her career as a child model, first appearing in a couple of advertising campaigns at the age of eight. In 2004, she began a full-time career as a model under the tutelage of Prasad Bidapa. As a teenager she played badminton at national level, but left a career in sports to become a model. She soon received offers for film roles, and made her acting debut in 2006 as the titular character of the Kannada film ‘Aishwarya’. Deepika then played a dual role in her first Bollywood release – the 2007 blockbuster ‘Om Shanti Om’, opposite Shah Rukh Khan for which she won a Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut. In 2005, she made her runway debut at the Lakme Fashion Week for designer Suneet Varma, and won the ‘Model of the Year’ award at the Kingfisher Fashion Awards.
Born in Bhambla, a small town in Himachal Pradesh, Kangana initially aspired to become a doctor at the insistence of her parents. Determined to build her own career path, she relocated to Delhi at 16, where she had a brief foray into modelling. Kangana trained under theatre director Arvind Gaur, and in an interesting incident during a screening when one of the male actors went missing, Kangana played his part along with her original role as that of a woman. She made her feature film debut in the 2006 thriller ‘Gangster’, for which she was awarded the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut.
Kat received a lot of modelling assignments the minute she set foot on Indian soil. She started her career as a model with photographer Atul Kasbekar, and worked for ads in products like LG, Cola, Fevicol, Lakme, and Veet, but Kat’s big break was when she was noticed in the Lakme commercial. Before making her Bollywood debut in Kaizad Gustad’s ‘Boom’ in 2003, Kat began her career at 14, as a jewellery model.
PC won the Miss India and Miss World pageants in 2000, before beginning her film career. Priyanka has received various awards for her performances, including a National Film Award for Best Actress and Filmfare Awards in four distinct categories. She made her acting debut in 2002 with the Tamil film ‘Thamizhan’, and in 2003 she starred in ‘The Hero’, her first Bollywood release, followed by box office hit ‘Andaaz’. PC earned critical praise for her portrayal of a seductress in the 2004 thriller ‘Aitraaz’, and subsequently played the female lead in several commercially successful films.
The first Indian to be crowned Miss Universe in 1994, Sushmita Sen made her Bollywood debut in Dastak’. Sush’s first public appearance was an Air Force Club Contest at 15. This triggered off participation in a number of fashion shows. Sushmita had almost withdrawn her application from the Miss India 1994 pageant after hearing that a season model called Aishwarya Rai was participating that year. Luckily for her, she didn’t! Sushmita will soon be making her debut in Bengali cinema with Srijit Mukherji’s ‘Nirbaak’.
The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia