Kat didn’t replace me: Ash

MUMBAI: Some have written her off, some say her crown is under threat. But Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is oblivious to such comments.

With her trademark smile in place, the graceful Bachchan bahu set about business, charming one and all during her recent trip to the city. The actor glowed despite reports of suffering from swine flu. “As the head of the house, Pa voiced his concerns on his blog about my health. He said I had flu like symptoms. Soon, word spread that I had swine flu!” said Ash when questioned about her health. But like everything else, these rumours too were put to rest. “Pa had to then clarify that it was just a normal flu,” said Ash while accepting that the Big B’s blog is indeed quite a ‘hit’. “For me it was Pa blogging because he was concerned and away from home at that time. But for others, it was like a confirmation of sorts that Amitabh Bachchan says Ash has the swine flu!”

Apart from shooting for Raavan, Endhiran, Guzaarish and Action Replay, Ash also has other professional commitments to honour which takes up a lot of her time. But hey, she’s not complaining. After all, she is the face of some of the most popular brands across the world. “I’ve always been very selective about the brands I endorse. There’s no rat race. Every endorsement has a story behind it. The bottomline is, I don’t like endorsing brands which are anywhere and everywhere,” explains Ash.

And what about rumours of a jewellery brand dropping her for Katrina Kaif? “I would like to say this loud and clear; I chose not to renew my contract with the jewellery brand,” affirms the actor setting the record straight. “I had a contract with another brand under which that particular jewellers came. Once they parted ways, I decided not to endorse them anymore,” she goes on to explain.

Taking the opportunity to put to rest the talk about her being dropped by other brands due to her age, Ash said, “No one every dropped me. I chose not to renew certain contracts. Like the one with the cola brand. Post marriage I decided not to endorse them anymore as Pa and Abhishek were endorsing the rival cola brand. I didn’t want any confusion in the consumer’s mind,” she quipped .

With film and endorsement offers pouring in, Ash is indeed a busy woman just like she was a few years ago. Unlike others, marriage doesn’t seem to have slowed her down. “Earlier, it was tough for a heroine to get work after marriage. Their so-called brand value would depreciate. That didn’t happen with me, as I've always aspired to push the envelope,” she explains.

But she does not take the credit for this alone. “I have to thank the professionals I’ve worked with. They were not regressive and changed with times,” she says. And unlike other contemporaries, Ash always seems pretty secure and confident of her career. “And why not?” she asks going on to add that, “Throughout my career I’ve never said things like, ‘I’m not ready for marriage now’, or ‘marriage will happen only after five or six years’. When I was ready for marriage, everybody knew. I’ve never given escapist quotes.”

But now that she is married into the first family of Bollywood, doesn’t she want to take it slow? “I have a secret pride, you know. I’ve always wanted to work after marriage and I couldn’t see why that should change after I tied the knot,” says Ash, while adding immediately, “Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not a hardcore feminist. I’m a humanist.”

The down-to-earth superstar rewinds, “I’ve had a long and wonderful journey. My photographer friends and others have pointed out that I have improved over the years.” But that did not come easy. “Earlier when a girl signed a film opposite a certain hero, it made big news. But I was not satisfied with just that, I wanted more. There were times when I signed a film and it turned out to be something else. I then brought it something different and new to the industry that protected the rights of the heroine like the MOUs and other contractual changes.”

Ask her if any of it was tough and she says, “Well I’ve constantly learnt and improved as an actor. My efforts have definitely made things a lot easier for my ilk.”