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    Working with Salman is out of the question: Aishwarya

    [Interview by Subhash K. Jha]
    Monday, September 13, 2004
    Aishwarya Rai firmly brushes off rumors about her signing a new film with Salman Khan, saying that is "out of the question".

    As clear and focused about her principles and priorities as ever, Ash brushes off speculation doing the rounds about her doing a film with Salman. "Working with Salman is out of the question. And you can quote me on that."

    "When I wrote out that press statement stating what I had to about the end of all association with him, I was in hospital with a fractured foot. I wrote that statement from my hospital bed where I had lots of time to think about what I was doing," Aishwarya Rai told IANS in an interview.
    "I'm not the kind of person who'd reverse her decision to suit her purposes. The question of going back on my words just doesn't arise. Come on! I let go of the chance of working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali just to stand by my convictions. Why would I change my mind for a lesser film?" Aishwarya reasons.
    Recalling the harrowing period in hospital she laughs: "I put on some weight in hospital. Gurinder Chadha wanted that filled up, prosperous look for 'Bride & Prejudice'. Then Rituparno Ghosh also wanted the same look for 'Raincoat'. In that film I look like a well fed Bihari housewife." She breaks into peals of laughter.
    For those who believe her career has suffered a devastating dent due to the failure of "Kyun...Ho Gaya Na" there's news. Every director from Shyam Benegal to Indra Kumar is planning to cast Aishwarya in his next project.
    Rumours about her backing out of Raj Kumar Santoshi's "Autograph" have her as amused and perplexed as the loose talk about her break-up with Vivek Oberoi.
    "Rajji and I go back a long way. He has been coming to me with every film since 'China Gate". For some genuine reason or the other, I wasn't able to work with him. I finally had to say yes to 'Khakee' and I don't regret it at all. I had 20 days of free time and I loved doing the film. Now these screaming headlines about me turning down 'Autograph'? I agree 'Autograph' was one of the projects that Rajji discussed with me. We mutually agreed it wasn't the right vehicle for us to collaborate on."
    She adds animatedly: "Working with directors like Raj Kumar Santoshi, Rituparno Ghosh and Sanjay Leela Bhansali is an experience beyond belief. When I do, I like to surrender myself completely to them. Rajji and I are coming together very soon for a very big film. As for Sanjay Bhansali, yes we've met recently again. I did spend an evening at his place. But not for work. I don't know how stories that I met him for a film came out in the press.
    "I'm not the kind of person who meets an old and dear friend with an agenda. Of course, I'd love to work with Sanjay again. The magic he has created with me in 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam' and 'Devdas' is unbelievable, and unparalleled. I'm sure we'll be coming together again somewhere down the line."
    As for the astronomical unheard-of amount that she's reportedly being offered to become the international brand ambassador for L'Oreal, the multi-billion cosmetic company, Ash shrugs off the conjecture. "I'm already the brand ambassadress for L'Oreal. I heard about their supposed plans replace another model with me only through an Indian journalist who claimed to have read it in an international publication. I've neither read this news nor have I been approached with any such offer by the cosmetic company. As usual, the press seems to know more about my activities than I do."


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