STAR OF INDIA'S PRIM FILM INDUSTRY WON'T
RULE OUT ON-SCREEN KISSING IN HER FUTURE
HOLLYWOOD MOVIES � "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
Is She the World's Most Beautiful Woman and Will She Break the Indian Taboo?
She's never kissed on screen � even after 24 films. Kissing is taboo in the Indian cinema, but world-renowned Indian actress Aishwarya Rai won't rule out a silver-screen smooch when she makes Hollywood movies. Rai, once called the most beautiful woman in the world by Hollywood's own Julia Roberts, speaks to Bob Simon for a report to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday, Jan. 2 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Rai dances delicately around the subject of screen sex, because in India and many Eastern countries where her films play, a kiss is not just a kiss. "We'll cross the bridge when we reach it," says Rai of the inevitable love scene in her American film future. "Let's see. We'll work on the story, work on the scene. I'll work on the part�"
The 30-year-old actress is known almost everywhere but the U.S. -- her fans have built 17,000 web sites devoted to pictures of the Indian goddess. A British magazine poll named her the world's most beautiful woman. Her beauty adorns the ad campaigns of brands like DeBeers diamonds, L'Oreal and Coca Cola. She is currently starring in a British movie directed by an Indian that contains elements of Indian and Western cinema. Called "Bride and Prejudice," based on the Jane Austen novel, it will be shown in the U.S in early 2005.
Indian cinema, or Bollywood as it is known, contains love and passion, but music and song substitute for actual sex of even the most innocent kind. Rai's first movie kiss, should she do it, will be a minor scandal among her fans, especially in India. "It would definitely be a topic of discussion," says Rai. "They're going to enjoy [talking about it]," she tells Simon.
The country that gave the world the Kamasutra, one of the oldest known sex manuals, isn't prudish, just not into public displays of intimacy, says Rai, hence the no-sex cinema. "In our society, you don't really see people around the street corner kissing or being extremely or overtly physically demonstrative," she says.
Her fans will have to wait to find out whether she will or won't kiss on screen. As a story she tells on 60 MINUTES Sunday shows, she may not know how she will react until the time comes. While rehearsing for the Miss World Contest in 1994, she said she and the other contestants would mock a winner's standard reaction of hands to the face and an exclamation of "Oh, God. I won!" But then, she won. "Oh, my God, when I won, I did that," Rai remembers. Then laughing, tells Simon, "I was like, 'I did that thing. I did that, too!'"