No power on earth could persuade Aishwarya to play a negative role. Except Mani Ratnam. Though there has been no official announcement on it, Mani Ratnam and his favourite actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan—they’ve early collaborated on Iruvur, Guru and Raavan— are definitely coming together for the fourth time for a film called Ponniyin Selvan, in Tamil, and this time she’s playing an out-and-out antagonist.
Though not allowed to talk about it, a source close to Aishwarya reveals how reluctant she was to go grey, “It isn’t even grey. It’s an out-and-out black character. Aishwarya was not inclined to do a negative part at this stage of her career at all. She believes, and perhaps rightly so, that as an iconic actress she has an example to set to her fans. In a country besieged with crimes she doesn’t want to glorify negativity by playing a negative character.”
However it was Mani Ratnam who convinced her about the character and her need to play it. “Aishwarya flew down to Chennai to meet her second-favourite director (after Sanjay Leela Bhansali). He sat her down, narrated the whole script and explained why as an actor she must do this. To her misgivings about what her daughter Aaradhya would think of her Mama playing a ‘bad woman’ Mani assured Aishwarya that Aaradhya would be proud of her mother when she was old enough to understand what acting is all about,” says the source.
Apparently this is all the convincing that Aishwarya needed. In an earlier conversation Aishwarya had said to me. “There are two filmmakers I can never say no to Sanjay (Bhansali) and Mani Sir. I started my career with Mani’s Iruvar where I had to play a complex character of a politician and speak in Tamil. I knew nothing about either (politics or the Tamil language). But he had faith in me. That’s what gave me the courage to go for it.