At 35, Bollywood's blue-eyed-girl Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who celebrates her birthday Saturday, continues to woo Indian filmmakers with her international appeal, making her one of the most bankable stars in the Indian film industry.
Says popular film critic Taran Adarsh: "Aishwarya's career graph has been very good though not excellent but she is the only actress who can attract national and international crowds. She is the face of so many international brands and a very good actress also."
London-based Indian filmmaker Jagmohan Mundhra, who directed the actress in the critically acclaimed English movie "Provoked", also credits her as a superstar with an international appeal.
"She is a superstar. Not only is she a recognised name worldwide; she is a totally bankable star. My personal experience with her from 'Provoked' says that the film wouldn't have worked without her.
"The best thing about her is that despite her stature, she is completely a director's actor. She would also give her inputs in the character and would never come back to see a shot once the director approves it. She is thoroughly professional," Mundhra added.
Aishwarya, now married to Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan, was born in Mangalore to Krishnaraj Rai, a marine biologist, and Vrinda Rai, a writer.
After winning the Miss World crown in 1994, Aishwarya took to acting in 1997 with a Tamil film "Iruvar" opposite southern superstar Mohanlal and made her Bollywood debut in the same year opposite Bobby Deol in 'Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya'. Both films bombed.
In the following year, she won her first Filmfare Best Actress award South for the Tamil film "Jeans" but became an overnight star with Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" in 1999. She bagged the Filmfare Best Actress award for this too.
In 2000, she gave a power packed performance in Subhash Ghai's 'Taal' but followed it up with a string of flops like 'Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai'(2000), 'Dhai Akshar Prem Ke'(2000), 'Albela' (2001), 'Hum Kisise Kum Nahi'(2001) and many more.
In between, she was recognised for her supporting role in Yash Chopra's 2000 hit "Mohabbatein".
Her career was resurrected in 2002 with Bhansali's "Devdas" fetching her another Filmfare award in the Best Actress category.
She was highly appreciated for her performances in "Chokher Bali'(2002), "Raincoat" (2004), 'Guru'(2006), "Dhoom 2" (2006), 'Provoked'(2007), "Jodhaa Akbar" (2008) and "Sarkar Raj" (2008).
In her career spanning 11 years, Aishwarya has acted in over 40 movies in Hindi, Tamil, Bengali and English. Her English projects included "Bride & Prejudice" (2003), "Mistress of Spices" (2005), and "The Last Legion" (2007).
She is also starring in another international project "Pink Panther 2", a sequel to the original comedy.
The beauty queen-turned-actress is also counted among the 100 most beautiful women in the world.
Actress Priyanka Chopra feels that "Aishwarya has a perfect face".
"She is a gorgeous lady, a very elegant person and a great representative of India abroad and I think she has made some great cinema recently. I'd like to watch a lot more of her in films," Priyanka told IANS.
After her wedding in April last year, Aishwarya has cut down on her projects and has become very choosy too. But critic Adarsh feels it is only due to her "added family responsibilities".
Currently, the actress is busy shooting with Abhishek in Kochi for Mani Ratnam's forthcoming film tentatively titled "Raavan".