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Aishwarya Rai (Tulu pronunciation [əjɕʋərjaː rəj]; born 1 November 1973), also known as Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, is an Indian film actress and model. She was the first runner-up of the Miss India pageant, and the winner of the Miss World pageant of 1994. She is a leading contemporary actress of Indian cinema and has received two Filmfare Awards, two Screen Awards, and two IIFA Awards for her performances in Hindi language films of Bollywood. Rai is regarded as one of the most popular and influential celebrities in India, and is often cited in the media as the "most beautiful woman in the world".
Rai made her acting debut in the 1997 biographical film Iruvar and starred in the commercially successful 1998 film Jeans. She earned wide public recognition and Best Actress awards at Filmfare for her leading roles in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 1999 melodrama Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and the 2002 period film Devdas. She gained critical appreciation for her portrayal of Tagore's heroine Binodini in Rituparno Ghosh's 2003 film Chokher Bali, and a depressed woman in Ghosh's 2004 relationship drama Raincoat. Following a series of commercially unsuccessful films, Rai featured in the 2006 blockbuster adventure film Dhoom 2, the 2008 historical romance Jodhaa Akbar, and the 2010 science fiction film Enthiran. She garnered wide critical acclaim for her work in Bhansali's 2010 romantic drama Guzaarish.
Following a tumultuous relationship with actor Salman Khan, Rai married actor Abhishek Bachchan in 2007. Her off-screen roles include duties as a brand ambassador for several charity organisations and campaigns; she is a Goodwill Ambassador for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). She was awarded with the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2009, and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France in 2012.
Rai was born into an ethnic Bunt family in Mangalore, Karnataka.Her father, Krishnaraj, was a marine biologist, while her mother, Brindya, is a housewife.She has one elder brother, Aditya Rai, who is an engineer in the merchant navy. He co-produced one of her movies, Dil Ka Rishta (2003).Rai's values and lifestyle were influenced by her family, and even as her fame continues to rise, she holds strong to a religious, value-based life, influenced early on by her parents.
The family moved to Mumbai, where Rai attended the Arya Vidya Mandir High School. Rai did her intermediate schooling at Jai Hind College for a year,and then joined DG Ruparel College in Matunga, securing 90 percent in the HSC exams.She trained in classical dance and music for five years during her teens.Her favourite subject was zoology, so she initially considered a career in medicine but was unsuccessful later on.Then with plans to become an architect, she enrolled at Raheja College, but later gave up her education to pursue a career in modelling. In 1991, Rai won a supermodel contest (organised by Ford) and was eventually featured in the American edition of Vogue. After abandoning an idea to pursue a career in medicine, Rai enrolled for a course in architecture at the Raheja College of Arts.However, she dropped out of college to pursue a full-time career as a model.
In 1993, Rai gained public recognition for her appearance in a Pepsi commercial with actor Aamir Khan. In the 1994 Miss India she won second place, behind Sushmita Sen, and was crowned Miss India World. With Sen representing India at the Miss Universe pageant, Aishwarya's duties as the first alternate included representing India in the rival Miss World Pageant, held that year in Sun City, South Africa. She went on to win the Miss World title the same year, where she also won the "Miss Photogenic" award and Miss World Continental Queen of Beauty − Asia & Oceania. After winning the pageant, Rai spoke of her dream for peace for this world, and her desire to be an ambassador of peace during her one-year reign in London.In 2000, she was named the "Most Beautiful Miss. World" of all time. Rai continued to pursue a career as a model until she became an actress.