The World's Most Beautiful Woman

Mar 03, 2009
*Special to asia!

Effortlessly graceful and stunningly gorgeous, any man would be lucky to have her. Or would they?


aishwarya rai


Aishwarya Rai is married to the son of Amitabh Bachchan, Abishek, but if the Indian astrologers are to be believed, she may not be such an asset to the Bachchans as it appears.

She is the 1994 Miss World who has since been voted many times the most beautiful woman on earth. She had David Letterman literally drooling when she appeared on his show. She made nearly US$1 million for a three-minute appearance in the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi last year. She is now, with Gong Li of China, the newest foreign superstar to have successfully invaded Hollywood. So does Aishwarya Rai have problems finding one thing she really wants, a permanent man in her life?

Come to having a love life, millions of girls in India and elsewhere would kill to be in her shoes (literally). Aish, as she is known throughout Bollywood and beyond, has dated some of the most desirable Indian actors, in particularly Salman Khan with whom she had a very public relationship. She is now married to Abhishek Bachchan, scion of Bollywood’s first family, son of legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan and a rising star in his own right.

Everything seems to go Aish’s way, except the stars. The 30-film veteran is known throughout India to be a “Manglik”, which means she is likely to bring discord and even disaster to any family she marries into.

“Manglik” comes from the word “Mangal”, which means “from Mars”, one of the nine planets that rule the horoscope, and hence the life, of the nearly 1.5 billion people in South Asia. Mars stands for force and energy (looked at in the positive way) or aggression, argument and battle (seen negatively). A female Manglik is to be avoided if the male’s family wants to maintain harmony.

Or so the stars say. And Indians listen. The world’s largest democracy and the cradle of an ancient civilization is still very much in the grips of stargazers in the 21st century. If any proof is needed, just look at the fingers of any politician, businessman or actor to read the stones embedded in their rings—they are not put there merely for decoration, but to enhance the wearers’ luck (based on birth dates) and to ward off evil.

India has thousands of famous Mangliks, among whom Aish is by far the most famous. So much so that the Bachchan family is said to be worried that her alliance with Abhishek would curtail the latter’s career just when it is about to take off. The fact that he is 31 to her 34 may also have contributed to the uneasiness. Since the couple has gotten together, there are many rumours that they have broken up. Some can be traced to publicity agents trying to drum up interest for the films of both Aish and Abhishek, but certainly concern over incompatible star signs is also an element.

For every curse there is a solution. Abhishek’s parents, Amitabh and Jaya (herself a famous actress who quit the screen after her marriage) are said to have accepted Aish as their future daughter-in-law—provided she performs a series of religious rites (havans) to contain the ill effects of Mars. There are many rumours about what these rites entail, and what Aish has already performed. One calls for her to be married first to a tree, to transfer her bad luck. Aish’s brother, who does not believe in horoscopes, is openly against it. To the believers, his resistance to the havans simply goes to prove the horoscopes are correct. Apparently a famous astrologer had predicted last year that Aish “may have trouble due to her brother”. The wedding, by the way, is set for August this year, if the stars are agreeable.


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lee han shihLee Han Shih is the founder, publisher and editor of asia! Magazine.


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