Aishwarya Rai Bachchan knows the world has some questions for her, and she’s ready to answer the big ones. Since the birth of her daughter, Aaradhya, last November, the former Miss World and her protective family have been carefully doling out details — with even the baby’s name staying officially under wraps until last month.
Since then, Rai Bachchan has been travelling with her baby, first to Cannes, in her capacity as one of L’Oreal’s longest-standing global ambassadors, and last weekend to London, where she hit the shops with Beti B.
In an exclusive interview with tabloid! following her first post-pregnancy Cannes appearance, Rai Bachchan talks about life with Aaradhya, getting back to work and her post-pregnancy body — and her advice to working mums: “Don’t be too hard on yourself.”
Q. You have been voted as Best Mother alongside Angelina Jolie in an online poll. Your thoughts?
A. It’s flattering to be voted this, however I think every mother deserves to be recognised as motherhood is the most important and fulfilling experience a women can have in my opinion.
Q. How has life changed after giving birth to Aaradhya? Has travelling and keeping your work commitments such as brand appearances become difficult?
A; Life has become quieter, which is very nice; I am spending a lot of time with her and just enjoying being a family. I have learnt to manage my time better with work so that my family time isn’t compromised too much. I prefer to take her with me on travels when the commitments are not too tight. My mother accompanies me to help with Aaradhya, so I am blessed that way.
Q. Many people have commented online about your post-pregnancy body. What do you have to say?
A. It isn’t surprising because in this industry it comes as standard when an actress becomes a mother the focus isn’t on her health, it’s how fast she lose her weight, I don’t worry about this; to me, my the wellbeing and the health of my family is more important than focusing on going back to my pre-pregnancy body in miracle time. It should not be taken to extremes.
Q. Did you think of embarking on a rigorous diet or exercise regime in the run-up to Cannes appearance?
A. I believe in healthy weight loss and diet regimes, so I follow a programme whereby I do not exhaust my body or mind. So I always follow a healthy and steady regime when I am in preparations for such an event.
Q. You have been hailed as a paragon of beauty and motherhood. What’s your advice to women who are trying to tackle both motherhood and their work?
A. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and take time to relax and connect with your newborn. At times this seems impossible but it’s an essential part of juggling motherhood and a career successfully. And no matter what you do, don’t forget about yourself. I believe that when you look good, you feel good and more confident, so caring for your hair, skin and body should not stop. If anything, you should do more of that so you are refreshed and positive when you’re around your child and family.
Q. When will we see you make a comeback to films? Have you missed being in front of the camera?
A. I like to choose roles that are meaningful and where I can contribute to the telling of a story. When the right role arises I will be back in front of the camera.
Q. How has your outlook towards life and work changed after pregnancy?
A. Of course, becoming a mother makes you recognise so many things in life that you never realised before. Your priorities, your feelings and your future completely changes. It really is such a beautiful experience.
Q. As a celebrity mother, do you have role models?
A. I have always idolised my mother. She inspired me to be a wonderful mother, the advice and support I have received is truly incredible and having her next to me when I travel is a blessing.
Q. Several reports claim that you are a hands-on mother. How would you describe yourself as?
A. Being a mother should be a “hands-on” experience so this I can support as being true, I don’t want to miss any moment with Aaradhya.
Q. How was it meeting Oprah Winfrey in India?
A. Incredible, Oprah has this amazing energy and charisma about her that is so warming to be around. She is such an inspirational woman.
Q. How did you feel about the expectation surrounding your Cannes red carpet arrival this year?
A. I feel excited as well as nervous, there are a lot of expectations and although it will be my 12th year on the red carpet at Cannes, each year it still feels like the first time, the atmosphere is energized and electric!
Q. Dressing up for Cannes and achieving sartorial splendour doesn’t always come easy. Can you run us through how you go about choosing outfits, what does fashion mean at Cannes?
A. There are weeks of preparation that go into gown selection and fittings, and all the outfits that I wear for the entire festival are planned. As an ambassador for L’Oréal Paris on the red carpet, it is important to look my best and relate to women from different walks of life on and off the red carpet.
Q. Tell us about your Cannes journey in the last 11 years. Any memorable moments?
A. It is truly a one of a kind event where glamour, fashion and the art of film collide in a beautiful way. Last year was memorable as was my 10th year with L’Oréal Paris. Most importantly this year was that I had my daughter, making it incredibly special.
Q. The Cannes appearance was your first one a global platform since, motherhood. Your thoughts?
A. Being a mother changes your outlook on a lot of things, including representing women who manage motherhood and their career in a positive manner.
Q. You have endorsed L’Oreal Paris in Cannes many times. What does it mean to be the face of a cosmetic giant? Can you regale us with the experience of meeting up with other L’Oreal ambassadors?
A. L’Oréal Paris is trusted and renowned for quality and leaders in the beauty and cosmetic industry so I am proud to be part of this family. Meeting the other ambassadors is wonderful as we all have our own experiences to share and being part of team such as L’Oréal Paris gives you a voice amongst women where you can truly make a difference.
Q. Apart from promoting Devdas, you have always appeared in Western wear while promoting Cannes. Why is this?
A. I enjoy both traditional and Western wear; when in Cannes representing L’Oreal Paris, the appeal is more international. This year I will be wearing both. [Rai Bachchan wore Elie Saab on the Cannes red carpet, and Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla sari and jacket at the AmFAR gala event.]
Tell us about your beauty regime.
“I always look after my skin. I believe that cleansing is as important as using a good moisturizer. Using L’Oréal Paris skincare and haircare products have become second nature. I like the Revitalift Total Repair 10 range especially the serum, as I feel my skin’s needs are quenched immediately. I drink a lot of water, and I can’t go anywhere without mascara! L’Oréal Paris Volume Million Lashes is my personal preference. I carry one thing in my tiny purse and usually it is my Color Riche lipstick.”