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Aishwarya Rai Bachchan Says She ‘Didn’t Come with Formal Training, Mani Ratnam was Perfect Guru’

Former beauty pageant winner and actor Aishwarya Rai Bachchan marked her acting debut in 1997 with filmmaker Mani Ratnam’s Iruvar, a political drama. Over the years, she has the headlined two of his most critically acclaimed film – (2007) Guru and Raavan (2010). The director and muse are coming together for their fourth collaboration – Ponniyin Selvan: 1 (PS: 1) – an epic period action film based on late author and activist Kalki Krishnamurthy’s 1955 novel of the same name.

At the press conference of the film held yesterday in Mumbai, Aishwarya talked about her 25-year-long association with Mani. “I worked in my first film with Mani garu, who is my guru. I regard myself blessed that I got the opportunity to start my journey as an actor working with him. He’s the perfect school and the perfect guru,” she says.

Having come from a non-film background, she considers her time on the set with the filmmaker her learning ground. “I didn’t come with any formal training, I just dived in (acting) and got to work with him. But experience is the best teacher. It’s [working with Mani sir] spiritual and divine. We always talk about the foundation and approach to work, the work ethics and the way you focus on the art and the creativity itself and not the peripherals because that goes with the turf and isn’t the focal point in your creative journey. And what better place for me to have begun my approach to my craft than with Mani sir!” she stated.

Aishwarya, who plays Pazhuvoor queen Nandini in the film, further added, “I feel very blessed to have worked with him in Iruvar, Guru, Raavan, Ravaanan and now Ponniyin Selvan 1. PS 1 is his dream project. To have the opportunity to be a part of it in itself is any artiste’s dream. The entire cast would echo my sentiment that we are humbled, creatively content and regard ourselves privileged that we got to be a part of his dream film.”

Speaking to News18 exclusively, the 48-year-old said that she simply followed Mani’s instructions to slip under the skin of a character, which is set in the Chola Empire. “I’m a sincere student who has earnestly interpreted Mr Mani Ratnam’s vision. I think, that’s a really hard job as an actor,” she remarked.

PS: 1 is presented by Subaskaran’s Lyca Productions. It is jointly produced by Madras Talkies and Lyca Productions. It is directed by Ratnam with music composed by AR Rahman. PS: 1 is slated for a worldwide release on September 30, 2022, in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.

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