From losing her father when she was 8 to facing disparaging comments in the film industry, Aishwarya Rajesh speaks about her struggle to make it big.

Aishwarya Rajesh speaks about her struggle in film industry in TedX Talk at IIM Trichy
Flix Kollywood Monday, May 25, 2020 - 13:18

Aishwarya Rajesh has so far acted in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi films. With her dusky skin and non-film background, the journey to make it big has not been an easy one in a field where women actors are hired more for their ‘glamour’ than talent.

Aishwarya has not shied away from speaking about her struggles in interviews. In a TedX talk at IIM Trichy, however, Aishwarya also speaks about her challenging childhood. The video was uploaded on May 22.

The actor says that she grew up in a housing board in Chennai. When she lost her father at the age of 8, her mother, who’s uneducated, had to step up to bring up her four children.

Aishwarya was the youngest of four siblings and the only girl. Her mother, she says with great affection, didn’t know any English or Hindi but would travel to Mumbai and procure sarees that she would sell to her family and friends’ circles in Chennai. Over the years, she also became an LIC agent and dabbled in real estate. “Even now, she tries selling LIC policy to my co-stars,” Aishwarya says with a laugh.

However, the family’s run with ill luck continued. Aishwarya’s eldest brother died when she was around 12. He was in a relationship and the family still does not know if he killed himself or was murdered, she says. Within a short period, her second brother also passed away in a road accident. These events pushed her mother into a shell, and Aishwarya had to grow up rather quickly to manage the family.

The actor says that her first job was to promote a chocolate brand outside a supermarket. She was only in Class 11 when she started on this job, which paid her Rs 225. Aishwarya, however, had big dreams and eventually got into reality TV shows where she even won a popular dance contest. When she realised that TV serial actors only got paid well if they had a film background, she decided to jump into cinema.

However, the journey was far from smooth. Aishwarya recalls that she faced all kinds of obstacles – from sexual harassment to cruel comments on her looks and personality. Ironically, her ability to speak Tamil was considered a disadvantage in the film industry, she says.

While her first film Avargalum Ivargalum didn’t do well, Aishwarya was keen that she would act as the lead and not do the small roles that she was offered. She got a break with director Pa Ranjith’s Attakathi, where she had a memorable role, but it was with Kaaka Muttai that she became well-known. Playing the mother of two young boys in a slum, Aishwarya says that the shoot gave her a lot of insights. But despite getting critical acclaim, the actor did not really bag movies with big stars.

That’s when she did Kanaa with Arunraja Kamaraj, she says, deciding that she would play the hero herself. In the film, Aishwarya is a young woman who is determined to become a cricketer. With this film, Aishwarya says that she has managed to get several more heroine-centric films. Her message to the audience is that if she could get to where she is right now, anyone can. She also adds that women who face sexual harassment should fight back like she has.

“I have struggled by myself all my life,” says the actor, encouraging the audience to never give up.

Watch the talk here:


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