Cannes: As Aishwarya Rai walked up the steps of the Theatre Grand Lumiere on the opening night of the Cannes Film Festival, it was apparent that the parade of Bollywood stars on the French Riviera would be stronger than it has ever been before.
Aishwarya, a Cannes red carpet regular, was at the opening night yet again but this time with hubby Abhishek Bachchan by her side.
Media reports in India had suggested that Aishwarya, who first walked up the red carpet in 2002 for a special screening of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Devdas”, might skip Cannes this year because she would be busy shooting for Ashutosh Gowarikers “Jodha Akbar”.
But as a brand ambassador for French cosmetics giant L’Oreal, one of the official partners of the film festival, she was contract-bound to make it to Cannes. The Bollywood diva took a week off from her “Jodha Akbar” dates to be on the Croisette.
Aishwarya and Abhishek will be present when Mani Ratnam’s box-office hit “Guru” is screened on Sunday afternoon in the Tous les Cinemas du Monde as part of a special focus on Indian cinema.
Also present at the opening night ceremony was Preity Zinta, in Cannes for the second year running to promote luxury watch and jewellery manufacturer Chopard.
John Abraham and Bipasha Basu are expected to land here on Thursday to promote Vivek Agnihotri’s “Goal”, a film about an Asian soccer league team shot for the most part in London.
‘I’m getting used to married life’
Bollywood icon Aishwarya Rai is a household name in many countries. Now the actress, who married fellow film star Abhishek Bachchan last month, is getting used to a new moniker.
“This is the first travel where people start calling you, ‘Hello Mrs Bachchan, good evening,” Rai told the news agency.
“I’ve maybe done a double take at times, but pleasantly so, it makes us smile, so its been good,” she added.
Rai, 31, a former Miss World, interrupted her honeymoon for a flying visit to the Cannes Film Festival.
Rai was in the audience, and on the red carpet, for opening-night festival screening of Wong Kar-wai’s “My Blueberry Nights,” but said she hoped to return to her vacation by the weekend.
Once she’s back in India, Rai said she will continue work on her latest film, the 16th-century royal love story “Jodha-Akbar.”
The Cannes Film Festival runs to May 27.