The Telegraph
Sunday , June 26 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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From AB to celeb baby
celebrity circus

I had no idea my heroine was pregnant,” swore Madhur Bhandarkar, minutes after Amitabh Bachchan tweeted that Aishwarya was expecting. Amitabh himself was super busy accepting calls and replying to text messages. Prompt as ever, he corrected one scribe who congratulated him for being on the brink of nanahood: “Not nana, I’m going to be a dada.” To most others he messaged a courteous, “Many thanks.”

Expectedly, the Bachchans went into a huddle with their respective PROs soon after the tweet got picked up and flashed on every TV channel in the country. A joint statement from Aishwarya and Abhishek (a bland “thank you for your blessings” message) was prepared and sent out the morning after. The TV channels went into their usual frenzy and there was a traffic jam on Wednesday morning outside the Bachchan bungalow with all the satellite vans parked desperately for a byte. In fact minutes after Amitabh replied to my text message, a TV channel from Delhi wanted a live phone-in chat with me because I’d got a confirmation directly from Big B.

Several dailies in Mumbai, however, had egg on the face. An article in one asked why Aishwarya had put on weight. Another had reported a few days ago that even if Amitabh had distanced himself from IIFA, Abhishek and Aishwarya would be performing at the function in Toronto this year. Far from fragmenting the family and going anywhere near IIFA, the very idea of a pregnant actress flying to Canada and shaking a leg was completely fictional. If anything, the pregnancy tweet has effectively doused the interest in IIFA and turned the spotlight firmly on the Bachchans. The timing couldn’t have been better their home production Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap releases in a week’s time.

The question uppermost on every interviewer’s list now is: will pregnancy and motherhood impact Aishwarya’s acting career and will it relegate her to Kajol category where she’ll start endorsing kitchenware and domestic appliances?

The first impact will be on Madhur’s Heroine (where Aishwarya replaced Kareena). After four major releases in 2010 (Guzaarish, Raavan, Action Replayy and Robot), Aishwarya had script narrations with a smorgasbord of filmmakers but didn’t take on any film until two months ago. Even then, she chose only two. Of these, she has shot only for Heroine while Rajkumar Santoshi’s Ladies & Gentleman, co-starring Abhishek, hasn’t gone on the floors and will be either shelved or started with a new starcast.

As for Madhur, he has a way of willy-nilly making news. Now everyone wants a quote from him on what’s going to happen to his Heroine and he ain’t taking calls. One schedule of about six days has been shot. But there is a strong indication that UTV and Madhur, after discussions with Aishwarya, will soon announce a change in the main cast. Aishwarya is game to shoot till July 31 but Heroine requires 60 days of shooting including two outdoor schedules in Paris and Goa. Will she be able to travel and also look in peak form as the first half of the script demands?

During the 60-day shoot, two songs (including something like an item number) were to have been shot. Besides, the script has a bedroom scene, a ramp walk and so on, scenes that establish her as a top-selling, glamorous actress. It’s believed that while Aishwarya articulated her willingness to go ahead with the shoot, Madhur had his misgivings. The problem is, Heroine needs an animated glamour girl and a lavish shoot. It’s not a Raincoat kind of film shot in just one room. Nor can there be cheat shots to hide the baby bump.

If Aishwarya is replaced in Heroine (several actresses have apparently sent feelers to UTV), it will be a second time in her otherwise professionally conducted career. She had lost SRK’s Chalte Chalte to Rani, after a mess-up in her personal life when unpredictable beau Salman had disrupted an outdoor schedule. It had mattered to a career-conscious Rai at that time. But this time around, she probably won’t regret losing a film.

As for stepping into Kajol’s bracket and going domestic with her image, Aishwarya did defy the norm when she got married with flair and continued to fetch the top buck as an actress. So, it wouldn’t be a surprise if after motherhood too, she sells beauty products and not baby nappies. Of course, they will have to be products for the older woman. But then with an international cosmetic giant closely associated with Aishwarya getting a more youthful Sonam Kapoor also on board, it’s a situation Mrs Abhishek Bachchan should be used to by now.

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