Actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who's celebrating her birthday on Saturday, November 1, has been an icon to young girls, ever since she won the title of Miss World in 1994. From making her Bollywood comeback after having a child to walking international red carpets and more, this beauty has time and again proved that she's a great role model.
In 2018, when Aishwarya was asked about the the #MeToo movement, she had said, "I have always spoken out, I spoke in the past, I am speaking now, and I will continue to speak."
For the unversed, long before the #MeToo movement started, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan opened up about her 'abusive' relationship with Salman Khan to the world. Tanushree Dutta might have taken the portent of #MeToo movement ahead, however, it was the Aishwarya who carved a way for women to speak up about their 'emotionally and physcally abusive' relationships.
On her birthday, let's look at how the actress spoke up against one of the biggest names in Bollywood and proved that she's as fierce as a lioness.
How it all began
Their relationship came to light during the shooting of 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam'. However, the two reportedly started dated back in 1997. In fact reports even suggest that it was Salman who recommended Aishwarya’s name to Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Before Aishwarya Rai, Salman dated Somy Ali. According to a magazine, it was Somy who dumped the actor, after she got to know about his affair with Aishwarya. An article published in Stardust (magazine) claimed that Somy Ali moved to the US after her break up with Salman.
Aishwarya and Salman came closer after this and she even developed a good rapport with Salman’s family.
The green-eyed beauty had even rebelled against her parents for Salman. She even moved into a separate apartment in Lokhandwala's Gorakh Hill Tower, author Biswadeep Ghosh claimed in his 2004 book 'Hall of Fame, Aishwarya Rai'.
Salman’s PDA (Public display of anger)
After the cupcake phase was over, Salman and Aishwarya’s relationship had allegedly started to get toxic.
In 2001, an incident occurred where Khan visited Aishwarya’s apartment in the night and banged the door until his hands bled. The actress finally had to give in and let him in.
A leading daily had quoted a source who alleged that Salman was furious because Aishwarya was at the peak of her career and wasn’t keen on settling down just yet. Salman wanted to marry her but she just wasn’t ready.
In 2002, in an interview to The Times Of India Salman confirmed that the incident did happen.
He said, "The incident is true, but it was overhyped by the media. I have a relationship with Aishwarya. If you do not fight in a relationship, it means you do not love each other. Why would I squabble with a person who is a stranger to me? Such things happen between us only because we love each other. Now, even the police have barred me from entering that building."
Aishwarya graces the red carpet with a fractured hand
Aishwarya, who takes the social media by storm with her Cannes Film Festival looks, left fans baffled with her appearance at Filmfare 2002. The 'Josh' actress appeared at the awards show with a fractured hand and a pair of black glasses.
While people were quick to assume that Salman had assaulted Aishwary, the latter had addressed the rumours during an interview to Filmfare.
She denied the rumours saying, "Why don't people believe that I fell down the stairs? The same media portrayed me as a strong woman. Now it wants to paint me as a helpless one. I would never tolerate nonsense behaviour. Nobody can act savagely with me. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger can get hurt in an accident. So, why can't I? I would have retaliated if I were physically attacked. This news is baseless. My silence has further fuelled the rumours. But I don't like to react on frivolous things."
Finally speaks up about the 'physical and emotional abuse'
Aishwarya Rai, in an explosive interview with The Times Of India in 2002, finally admitted to being in an abusive relationship with Salman.
She said, "Salman and I broke up last March, but he isn't able to come to terms with it...After we broke up, he would call me and talk rubbish. He also suspected me of having affairs with my co-stars. I was linked up with everyone, from Abhishek Bachchan to Shah Rukh Khan. There were times when Salman got physical with me, luckily without leaving any marks. And, I would go to work as if nothing had happened. Salman hounded me and caused physical injuries to himself when I refused to take his calls."
In another interview the same year, she'd said, "I stood by him enduring his alcoholic misbehaviour in its worst phases and in turn I was at the receiving end of his abuse (verbal, physical and emotional), infidelity and indignity. That is why like any other self-respecting woman I ended my relationship with him."
According to Biswadeep Ghosh's book, Salman had allegedly accused Aishwarya of having an affair with Shah Rukh Khan, during the shooting of 'Chalte Chalte'. Salman had allegedly shouted at Aishwarya at the sets of the movie and had even grabbed Shah Rukh Khan’s collar when he tried to intervene. This ruckus ended up in Aishwarya losing the part. Rani Mukerji was then roped in opposite Shah Rukh.
Aishwarya says never again
In 2003, Sanjay Leela Bhansali had reportedly offered 'Bajirao Mastani' to Aishwarya, but she had declined the film because Salman was supposed to be a part of it.
In a two-page long statement, Aishwarya had said, "For the sake of my well-being, my sanity, my dignity and the dignity and self-respect of my family -- ENOUGH! I will not work with Mr Salman Khan. The Salman chapter was a nightmare in my life and I am thankful to God that it is over!"