updated 18 Nov 2012, 09:52
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Fri, Nov 16, 2012
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Watching Ash in Singapore
by Sheela Narayanan

It must be a pre-requisite for Bollywood actresses to inspire a fair amount of schadenfreude (German for delight in another's misfortune) especially if that actress is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

When I mentioned to colleagues and friends that I was meeting the 39-year-old former Miss World for an interview when she was in town for the Longines Singapore Gold Cup - she is a long-time ambassador of the luxury watch brand - they said to me, rather gleefully: "Tell me if she has lost any weight."

While her stunning looks have always defined her career, it had elicited more discussion among fans and the media as photos of Aishwarya at Cannes in May showed that she was still carrying her baby weight after giving birth to daughter Aaradhya Bachchan last year.

Clearly the photographs here have the answer.

Dressed in a gloriously red Sabyasachi lengha, Aishwarya looked sensational and those emerald orbs still have the power to melt more than a few knees, as her appearance at the Longines Singapore Gold Cup on Nov 11 at the Singapore Turf Club proved, when the crowd of well-dressed and well-heeled invitees surged to take photos of the actress.

When tabla! met the Longines ambassador earlier in the day, she was in an enormously good mood. Compared to the previous times I had met her, there was a marked thaw in her engagement with the media and she looked a lot more comfortable in her skin.

While her minders requested that reporters not ask questions about entertainment or motherhood, Ash, as she is known by her fans, had no issues bringing up Aaradhya in the conversation.

Aishwarya told tabla! that she hoped to take her daughter to the Singapore Zoo if time permitted in her tight schedule and was tickled when we joked that she might have to ask the zoo to shut it down for her for a day in case she got mobbed by her fans.

Clearly, family is at the top of her mind - even when she talks about her 13-year association with Longines which she compares to being in a family.

"It is wonderful how time has flown in life and in us being together. For me it's an absolute pleasure being associated with a brand like Longines. On a personal front, simply belonging to the family has been exceptional. They are a really wonderful group to work with; they don't make it feel like work."

And while she has a strong collection of watches thanks to her association with Longines, she says, questions about which watch design is a favourite are tricky.

"I have so many pieces that have so many memories attached to it... it is very difficult to choose," she said. But if she had to pick it would be the Dolce Vita, the watch she was presented with when she first became the brand ambassador in 1999.

Dolce Vita means the sweet life in Italian and clearly it seems to sum up her life at the moment.

Recently, she joined the United Nations roster of International Goodwill Ambassadors for UNAIDS and was recently honoured with the second highest French civilian award, the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres or the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters for her contribution to cinema.

It was awarded to her in a ceremony held on her birthday which, she added, was the best time to have her entire family with her. It also gave the media photographers a rare chance to get a family photograph of her, with husband Abhishek Bachchan and Aaradhya.

She told tabla! that there was no doubt that her daughter had to be a part of the ceremony.

It was also clear that Aishwarya is in no rush to get back to the big screen anytime soon and now that she is a mum, she is not going to overthink her decisions professionally, despite the major changes in her life.

"This kind of responsible, at the same time fun choices, is natural for me," she said.

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