Aishwarya Rajesh recently revealed on TEDx talk at IIM Trichy about the many hardships and criticisms she faced due to her looks and complexion in the industry.
She said 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.
Highlighting the ugly truth of the industry, Aishwarya Rajesh said that her colour, complexion, and her inability to dress in a certain way were the initial reasons for her rejection.
Aishwarya Rajesh said that she had to face a lot of backlash for her looks and complexion from some of the directors. The actor also recalled a disappointing incident wherein one of the directors also stated that she was not a ‘heroine material’ and that she could pull off only small roles like the heroine’s friend.
My journey has been a “mixed” one, she says, adding “there is pain, there is success, there is happiness, of course there is love.”
She started working when she was in Class XI as a promoter of a chocolate brand outside a supermarket for which she was paid Rs 225 a day. She also began anchoring at events like birthday parties. Realising that the money wasn’t enough for taking care of the family, she began acting in TV serials for which she was paid Rs 1,500 a day.
People began noticing her after she did a small role in Attakathi. She shot to prominence with her role in Kaaka Muttai and from then on there was no looking back. The film was a “game-changer,” she says.