CANNES, France — Exploring the intersection of celebrity, glamor and personal finance is the raison d’etre for The Price of Fame — so who better than Aishwarya Rai as a subject? The Bollywood actress and model has $35 million to her name, according to celebritynetworth.com, and 60 Minutes dubbed her the most beautiful woman in the world.
TPOF caught up with Rai, 37, at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday to discuss money. After some gentle encouragement, Rai revealed that the most important financial advice she has learned is to adapt her expectations for each project, from low-budget to blockbuster. “You have to take each film for what it is, rather than having a rule book,” she said. “That’s what we actors do.”
Rai, on the Croisette to promote her new movie, Heroine, operates in a different economic stratosphere than most of us. Her fortune, already considerable when she was a single woman, is even greater now that she’s married to Bollywood hero Abhishek Bachchan, from India’s premier acting family. Still, TPOF couldn’t resist asking whether she was a saver or a splurger.
“I’m realistic and I’m practical,” Rai replied.
Maybe her middle-class upbringing is still an influence. Rai had no inkling that she wanted to be part of show business as a child. She was on track to receive an architectural degree until she entered the Miss World Pageant on a whim at age 21 and won. Film and modeling offers poured in, and she rapidly rose to become the most recognizable face of Indian cinema. She has appeared in 44 films, according to IMDB. Rai is best known stateside as the face of L’Oreal cosmetics and for her role in 2009’s The Pink Panther 2 and 2004’s Bride and Prejudice. In Heroine, she will play close to type as an Indian cinema icon who endures ups and downs. But she insists the movie is not autobiographical.
While the fun and glitz of Cannes help create a “cinema village” built on the love of movies, she said, she never forgets why she’s here. “This an industry.”