It can't be anything but destiny. Aishwarya Rai who will be playing Mumtaz Mahal in Ben Kingsley's film on the Taj Mahal, brought in her 34th birthday in Agra with her real-life Shah Jehan.
"You make it sound so dramatic and romantic," speaking on the eve of her birthday Aishwarya’s girlish laughter remains the same. "It's nothing like that. I'm bringing it in with Abhishek, Ma and Pa. Abhishek was shooting an ad in Agra on Wednesday. So I joined him with Ma (mom-in-law Jaya Bachchan). And now Pa (father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan) has also joined us. So you could say it's a perfect birthday by the Taj Mahal, though not quite AT the Taj Mahal—have you seen the crowds over there?—we can't risk going to the Taj Mahal, but a stone's throw away. Tomorrow (November 1) I'll be heading back home. It's a pity my parents couldn't join us here in Agra."
On Nov 1, her birthday Aishwarya was on top of the world. "My birthday in Agra was just tooooooo special. Someone up there has answered all my prayers."
It's been a hectic time for Aishwarya. "I came back from the US from shooting Pink Panther in time for Karwa Chauth. God knows how the tv cameras got our shots, probably from neighbour's premise….We're just leading our lives normally. I don't know why or how the press has this hunger to know about us."
She laughs, "This is my first birthday after marriage and therefore a very special occasion. But that apart, you know me. Spending time with the people I love is my greatest joy. I'm in a very happy place. And I don't mean Agra. Just being with three people who mean so much to me makes my life complete. God has been kind. There's great fulfillment in love and in being loved, by not just my husband but his parents who are now my parents. We're one family and we all love one another."
After her marriage the glow on her face would make the sunglass industry thrive. That laughter again. "Well if you say I glow, it's the glow of happiness. I couldn't have asked for more."
She'll be heading straight to Karjat after her birthday for the last two days' shooting of Ashutosh Gowariker's Jodha-Akbar.
She's excited about doing the Taj Mahal film with Ben Kingsley. "On the first day of shooting The Last Legion with him he walked up to me he said, 'I've this idea.' And he told me about the Shah Jehan-Mumtaz Mahal film that he'd like to do. You know, how many Taj Mahal scripts have come my way. I told Ben there have been many occasions when this subject has come to me. But there was something exceptionally interesting about the way he approached the subject. And yes, the whole process of discussing the subject with him was participative. After The Last Legion I kind of put it in the back of my mind. But earlier this year he confirmed it was on."
At the moment it’s Jodha-Akbar that occupies Aishwarya's mind. "You know me. Once I get into a subject I'm totally into it. But yes, I'm looking forward to working with Sir Ben again."
What does she want for her birthday? She thinks a while and says, "Just blessings and good wishes. Apart from that God has given me everything."