How Aishwarya Rai Never Stopped Being ‘The Most Beautiful Woman In The World’

aishwarya rai

by Shilpi Agarwal 

Aishwarya Rai Miss WorldAlthough I am not a fan of her’s and there’s definitely something about her laugh that irks me, that woman sure is something!

She had everyone drooling over her during her era, she was every Indian man’s dream girl, she still is the very definition of beauty in India – yes, I am talking about none other than the very famous Aishwarya Rai.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to talk about either how beautiful she is or how plastic she is, because I think you’ve heard it all by now and that’s not even the point I am here to make.

The point is – Aishwarya Rai used what she got to the fullest. She didn’t hide it, she didn’t become lazy with it, and she didn’t ignore it. On the contrary, she groomed it, she worked with it, she took pride in it and she showed it to the world. I personally don’t like people who have incredible talent or gift and don’t use it. I mean if you’ve got it, flaunt it, whether the talent is physical or intellectual.

I don’t even entirely agree with the title she was given as the “most beautiful woman in the world,” because I have seen women on a daily basis that may have less glamorous lives, but just as much grace and beauty. The only difference between them is that they chose different paths in life.

Rai put all her efforts into make her beauty shine, not just in India, but all over the globe. She modeled, she did beauty pageants, she did Bollywood, then Hollywood, and she did a fabulous job in all of them. Okay, maybe not so great in Hollywood, but she did do a lot better than the Hindi film industry legend Amitabh Bachhan did, to be honest. Also, she was definitely one of the pioneering actors coming from Bollywood to break into the Western movie industry and, as a woman, I applaud her for it.

Culturally, South Asians tend to marry off the daughters that are considered more idealistically beautiful at an earlier age than others, to the richest prospects they can find. Rai didn’t conform to such mentalities.

Rather, she used her beauty and her skill set to represent India in a way no one ever did on the international platform. Believe it or not guys, people don’t know who Sachin Tendulkar is but they know Aishwarya Rai! She is the synonym of Indian beauty in other nations, as positively or as negatively we may want to view that. The Netherlands even named a tulip after her!

Years later, she did not conceal herself in an invisibility cloak even when she was denounced by the media for ‘still’ being fat just a few months after becoming a mother. Instead, she faced the world head-on by showing up all dazzling and dignified at the Cannes Film Festival.

She redefined beauty, that being beautiful does not always mean having a perfectly sculptured body. Sometimes, it means just being courageous enough to stand up with your head held high and walk into the crowd, adorned with the few extra kilos of blissful motherhood.

Aishwarya Rai
Aishwarya Rai owning it at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013, less than six months after giving birth.

In my eyes, she is no less than the most admired people in India like Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bachhan, A.R. Rahman because like them, Rai used her talent in its entirety and made India proud by putting it on the map in a very unexpected way.

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Shilpi AgarwalShilpi Agarwal is a software engineer by profession with a fervor for reading and writing. She believes that life is all about learning new things and improving yourself as a human being every day. She also loves to travel, shop, listen to music and watch movies. Steve Jobs and M. S. Dhoni are her superstars.

By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

In Conversation With Teresa Patel, Rising Actor From NBC’s ‘New Amsterdam’

South Asian representation in entertainment and media is rapidly increasing nationwide. “We are making strides in the industry, and I am excited about the journey ahead,” said Indian American actor Teresa Patel, known for her roles as Paramedic Harvell in the NBC medical drama, “New Amsterdam,” and Neela Patel in the ABC soap opera, “One Life to Live.”

As a rising star, Patel is breaking barriers for South Asian women nationwide. We, at Brown Girl Magazine, had the opportunity to speak with Patel, a pharmacist by day and an actor by night, about her journey into acting and how she balances both careers. 

[Read Related: Anita Verma-Lallian Talks Camelback Productions and the Need for Greater South Asian Representation]

Patel’s acting career was inspired by watching Bollywood films while growing up. As a child, she would reenact popular Bollywood films with her sister and neighborhood kids.

 

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While her love for Bollywood is common among South Asians, her background and continued work in pharmacy are what make her stand out the most among other creatives.

“I went into pharmacy school knowing that I wanted to do both,” Patel said.

She added that while she knew she was interested in both, she wasn’t sure how to pursue them initially. She never let that dream or passion die down.

“I’ve always known I wanted to pursue acting. I knew I would have to pave a path to pursue acting, and I figured I will work as a pharmacist until I could make it possible — because acting is an investment.”

Patel shared her experiences and emphasized the importance of financial stability, especially for women.

“I believe in strong independent women who can finance their own dreams and build the life they want to live. You don’t want to have to rely on anybody else to do it for you.”

She shared that while it was something her parents did want her to pursue, being a pharmacist was something she eventually loved doing and ultimately helped her pursue her dreams of acting, due to the financial stability it provided as she built her acting career.

“I enjoy what I do and that’s what I love about the life I created. I have grown to love my pharmacy life and I love pursuing acting. I feel fulfilled with both.”

When talking about balancing two demanding jobs,  Patel walked us through a day in her life. We spoke about the importance of organization and how she managed to juggle both, but of course, it didn’t all come easy. She shared how she worked during the day and simultaneously enrolled in an acting conservatory which she attended in the evenings. 

 

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She also noted that she had to make a lot of personal sacrifices since her time was limited with work, training, and auditioning. But despite how difficult the times were or how much she initially “struggled” to find that balance, Patel shared that those were some of her “most memorable” times.

“It felt like a hustle, and I had the chance to experience two very different parts of my life. Looking back, a lot of my growth as a person happened during this time — which is what makes it so memorable for me.”

Speaking about representation and how the media has changed over time, Patel noted that while South Asians are still often given stereotypical roles, recently, a change can be seen in the roles they have been playing and creating. 

“There’s just more inspiration and more out there now,” she said, speaking of the different emerging writers, actors, and shows depicted in the media. 

“South Asians are starting to be seen as leads, as people who can have love interests, who have their own issues, not just white-collar professionals on screen.”

She added that change cannot happen overnight but is slowly occurring in media spaces. Patel also noted that more roles that don’t just highlight one’s identity are needed, adding that roles should not just represent a culture but be able to be played by anyone, despite identity or color. 

Reflecting on roles that emphasize characteristics only associated with one culture, she said:

“Women have so many types of backgrounds, that’s what I want to see more. A role shouldn’t be just for South Asians,” Patel said. “Like any woman should be able to take a role, my identity shouldn’t define what roles I can get.”

Outside of acting and being a pharmacist, Patel wears several other hats including directing her own short film. Without giving any spoilers — we learned that Patel’s film will revolve around the bond between herself, her sister, and her nephew. 

“Instead of waiting for the right role or opportunity, I realized I can invest in myself and create my own.”

In terms of advice, she would give to others,

“I don’t believe we are all meant to do only one thing all of our lives. We are full of potential, but you do have to believe in it and try your hardest to live up to it,” she said.

[Read Related: Deepa Prashad: Meet the Breakout Indo Caribbean Host Conquering Media and Sexism]

She noted that people often “glamourize” the acting world and forget to talk about what brought them to where they are, emphasizing the importance of training, marketing, and networking — all of which can cost money.

. “While you have a full-time job, you can still invest in yourself financially to live out your dreams.” 

Patel can be seen in American medical drama “New Amsterdam” on NBC.  The show currently has five seasons available.

Featured Image Courtesy of Teresa Patel

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By Aysha Qamar

Aysha Qamar is a writer, poet and advocate based in the tri-state area. She currently serves as BGM’s News and … Read more ›

‘Made in Heaven’ Season 2: The Return of Grand Weddings and Grander Morals

made in heaven

Pairs are made in heaven, and who better than the “Made in Heaven” expert crew to bring them together? Gracing our screen after three years, Zoya Akhtar’s brainchild “Made in Heaven” returned to Prime Video on Aug. 10 with seven episodes.

Set six months after the first season, Tara and Karan (played by Sobhita Dhulipala and Arjun Mathur) return with their original crew to plan magnificent weddings.

Although grand weddings are at the forefront of the show, there are multiple subplots to keep you hooked — maybe even shed a tear or two. The crux of the storyline is still Tara and Karan’s lives as we see them on a rollercoaster of emotions trying to manage their erratic personal lives.

[Read Related: ‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’: A Perfect K Jo Showcase Celebrating the Filmmaker’s 25 Years in Cinema]

Keeping true to its spell-binding depiction of weddings, love and relationships, every episode explores a challenge that is deep-rooted in South Asian norms and behaviors. With Kabir Batra’s (played by Shashank Arora) voiceover — who’s also the photographer and videographer for the Made in Heaven company — this season makes us question whether the core of a marriage is love or flamboyance.

 

The season-opening leaves you mesmerized and wanting to fall in love; the extravagant set and a glamorous display of high fashion are true inspirations for whenever there’s a wedding in the family. The artistic works Sabyasachi, Gaurav Gupta, Tarun Tahiliani, and many more, steal the show; their trendsetting designs are a sight for sore eyes.

While this season brings forth many new faces as supporting characters, such as Dia Mirza and Sanjay Kapur, we also have some new members joining the original crew of “Made in Heaven.” 

Mona Singh enters as Bulbul, wife of Jauhari (played by Vijay Raaz). She is introduced as a domineering auditor but as the show progresses, we witness the many layers of her character unravel; including that of a strong matriarch. One of the most compelling aspects of the show is her fight to save her son — who gets involved in a case of school harassment — and her and Jauhari’s approach and sensitivity toward the situation.

With her outstanding acting, Singh breathes life into the character. She exudes the panache of a businesswoman while perfectly depicting the complexities of a strong woman with a violent past — the mystery of which we learn as we move toward the end of the show. 

Bulbul, however, is not the only new character on the show. Played by Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju, Meher is a trans woman in search of love and companionship. With Meher’s character, the makers have brilliantly opened the doors for more inclusive stories to come to the fore.

[Read Related: Joyland: A Film Rising Above Unacceptability With a Story of Acceptance]

While each episode is a different story tackling some of the greatest shortcomings of our society, the lives of Tara and Karan remain at the center of it all; their characters evolving with every new challenge that is thrown at them. We see Tara “drop” from her previous known status of being a Khanna to just being Tara. Her story is one of identity, ownership and self-discovery; Karan’s, on the other had, is that of grief as we see him grapple with finding acceptance and drug abuse. Their struggles add substance to their characters navigating the privileged world; gravely reminding us of all that’s flawed.

It might feel a bit preachy and overwhelming at times, especially when two issues are being addressed in one episode. But in the end, it all makes sense…thanks to the extraordinary acting, marvelous direction, opulent sets and impeccable styling. “Made in Heaven” season 2 has to be your next binge-watch.

By Marium Abid

I'm Marium, originally from Karachi, Pakistan and now blended into the hustle-bustle of London. By day and sometime also night, … Read more ›

In Conversation with Karan Singh: CEO of the Sunburn Music Festival

Karan Singh Sunburn
Karan Singh Sunburn

From receiving his MBA from Harvard business school to being the CEO of Asia’s largest music festival brand Sunburn, Karan Singh combined his interests to push his passion for music! Singh received his bachelor’s degree in management from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He worked as an investment banker for three years at Ambit Corporate Finance before working at Sunburn which is a part of his family’s business. Sunburn started providing the music festival experience starting in the year 2007. The first festival was in Candolim, Goa. The music festival brand has put on over 5,000 events over the past 15 years. In 2022 The Sunburn Festival will be in it’s 16th year. Continue reading to learn more about Karan Singh’s journey with the Sunburn music festival!

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What does the Sunburn brand offer and what made you have the festival in Goa as opposed to other parts of India?

We believe that Sunburn offers a really unique experience and is a melting pot of diverse people & cultures from not only across India but around the world. Goa is the ideal setting for this as there is something magical about Goa in the winter-time and truly enables us to tap into that global audience.

Safety at live events has always been a concern among concert goers. Considering recent, events more individuals have asked brands and artists to do more to ensure audience safety. What are you doing to ensure safety for live concerts?

Safety is a huge priority for us. We work with the best-in-class security agencies as well as closely with the police and requisite authorities. For anyone in the crowd a Sunburn safety officer will always be close by and easily visible. We also run an awareness drive on both social media and on ground.

What was the first Sunburn Festival like and what did you learn from this experience?

The first ever Sunburn Festival was in December 2007, and I had actually attended it as a fan, not part of the crew. However, it was absolutely eye-opening as the first proper music festival on Indian shores and opened up our minds to a world of possibilities.

As Sunburn houses so many electronic dance musicians who have been your favorites throughout the years?

It is difficult to pick from the list however the favorites for Sunburn, in no order and because of the amount of love they have shown Indian audiences, are Martin Garrix, DJ Snake, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Hardwell and Armin van Buuren.

Do you plan to expand the festival to add other genres into the mix as well as more activities?

We have already expanded into different formats like Arena, Campus, Club, Reload and things like merchandize & academy. In terms of genres, we have been dabbling with genres like rap, hip-hop and pop, however our focus remains on electronic dance music.

What can someone expect from the festival as first-time goers?

Apart from a state-of-the-art production & line-up, one can expect a special experience, meeting interesting people from all over the world, and embarking on a creative journey of the theme for the year.

How does the festival help local musicians from Goa as well as the surrounding areas in India?

This year we had set up for the first time a special stage and village in the festival only for Goa which gave a platform to local Goan artists. But beyond that a huge focus for us has always been to showcase domestic home-grown talent and indeed 60-70% of the line-up each year is locally sourced.

[Read Related: Brown Boy Interview Series: In Conversation With KSHMR]

 

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What was the experience like this year in 2022 and how is it different from previous years?

The biggest difference was that this was the first time the festival was back to its full scale since the pandemic hit after 3 long years. It was a fantastic release for everyone there. Our theme was “the future is now” and this was reflected across the festival experience and particularly in the main stage design – termed “Cyberpunk City” which received rave reviews from all.

[Read Related: Jai Wolf: First Bangladeshi Artist to Headline Red Rocks Amphitheatre]

What was it like having the legends Black Coffee and Afrojack this year as well as the DJ duo Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike?

Afrojack and DVLM are both Sunburn & India veterans, it was amazing having them back crushing the main stage after very long. Black Coffee for us was something very new and exciting, to have a special artist and a unique sound like that close the main stage on day 2. However it was very well-received and took our experience to the next level.

As you have had the artist Avicii back in December 2011 how do you feel he revolutionized Electronic Dance Music?

Avicii is one of my all-time favorite artists and his show in December 2011 was actually my first one working on Sunburn so will always be extra special. There is no doubt that he revolutionized EDM by taking massive risks and introducing an entirely new sound which a lot of others then followed, but no one as well as he did.

How does it feel to be in charge of one of Asia’s biggest Electronic Dance Music Festivals?

It feels great, we have a very young but ambitious and hard-working team and our primary focus is to continue delivering the best possible experiences for our fans, artists and partners. India is such a vibrant and exciting market that I cannot help but be pumped about what the future holds.

Do you feel Electronic Dance Music is a misunderstood genre?

More so in a country like India possibly yes, where people who are not exposed to these experiences sometimes have preconceived notions about EDM festivals and the like. Oftentimes those people are also in a decision-making capacity and can directly affect the industry. However, things are certainly improving as the industry overall gets bigger and gets more acceptance.

What does music mean to you, Karan Singh?

Music provides a sound-track to life, it is something which is always there!

How do you choose to react when you receive negative comments about the Sunburn Festival?

Well, you have to be able to differentiate between those which are just trolling and those which are constructive or fair criticism. The latter is very important as it helps us to look at ourselves and continually improve, we are still a long way from where we eventually want to be.

Lastly, what do you hope individuals take away from this interview with Brown Girl Magazine?

I hope it allows us at Sunburn to reach a wider audience of the desi community around the world and hopefully get some more people to fly down to Goa for Sunburn Festival 2023 which I can promise you all will be the best one yet!

Artist Testimonials:

Dimitri Vegas Like Mike

We have had a long connection with India. The first time we played here was more than a decade ago. Going from clubs to being a regular feature at one of Asia’s biggest electronic music festivals which is now an institution in itself. It’s been an exciting evolution to see how Sunburn has grown over the years. The fans at Sunburn are some of the most insane and every show is a special one. We’ve always had an incredible experience at Sunburn.

DJ Snake

Honestly, the energy I feel when I am in India is one of the most amazing things. I would say the culture and energy is what keeps me coming back! India is like a second home to me, just like Sunburn. I feel so comfortable and welcomed here. I’m always excited about coming to India and playing at Sunburn, experiencing new cities, meeting more of the people, hearing more of the music, and seeing more of the country that has influenced me so much.

Afrojack

Sunburn has helped dance music artists world over to tour India and connect with their Indian fans and I’m always excited about performing at the festival.

Hardwell

I’ve a long history with the Sunburn team. They are a great team to work with and they also give the fans amazing experiences. As an artist, I want to be a part of providing fans with lifelong memories and so we all share the same vision.

Alan Walker

Sunburn is one of the pioneers of the dance music festival scene in India and has been instrumental in creating a truly world class platform that supports the dance music industry and all of its stakeholders. I’m always excited about touring India with Sunburn.

Photo Courtesy of DNH Media

By Arun S.

Arun fell in love with music at a young age by way of his middle school music teacher Mr. D. … Read more ›