Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for Longines in SingaporeIf elegance is truly an attitude, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan certainly embodies it; when we met her for an interview in Singapore, the star was ever so regal in dress and demeanor.

The former model and winner of Miss World 1994-1995 looked resplendent in a contemporary salwar kameez, glowing and poised in her garment of choice.

Married to Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan, this 39-year-old star was in Singapore on November 11 for the inaugural horse racing event, the Longines Singapore Gold Cup and its charity luncheon.

Since the birth of her first child, the actress been away from the screen. Lest you think she needs any sort of “comeback” role after her pregnancy, Aishwarya quickly dismissed that notion; she’s been busy with endorsements “barely after the third month after Aaradhya was born”.

She has a long list of achievements to her name, whether as an actor or a humanitarian — she was named a UNAIDS International Goodwill ambassador in September 2012. On November 2, the international star was honored by the French government with the prestigious Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters).

We had a quick chat with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan on her 13-year partnership with Swiss watch brand Longines and her work on and off-screen; she also shares her beauty tips on staying happy and beautiful, inside and out.

According to Longines, “Elegance is an attitude”. How do you embrace such “elegance” in your life?
“Without trying too hard. Because I believe it’s in the attitude. It’s in who you are. Elegance is about being yourself, to the optimum and believing in yourself and being true to yourself.”

What features do you look out for, when you’re shopping for watches?

“In my case, I don’t need to go shopping for watches (she laughs). Because I’m associated with a wonderful brand like Longines, which has an incredible variety (of watches). The variety of designs pretty much fulfill all of the aesthetic needs that I would require, be it my career as an actor, at officious meetings, or an evening out. Especially the recent pieces where you have ‘dual metals’: gold and steel. (This) gives you the option to team it with any piece of jewellery, be it white gold, yellow gold or pink gold.”

Which is that one Longines timepiece that you can’t do without?
“I keep saying that I find it impossible to pick on a favourite. I’ve been associated with the brand for so long. But if I have to, I’ll pick on the first piece, the first Dolce Vita that was presented to me by the brand, when we first came together. For sentimental reason, that was the piece that I will pick.”

You were recently named as an ambassador for the United Nations’ AIDS agency. Can you tell us a bit more about your role in that and what it means to you to be named as an ambassador?
“The United Nations had approached me 10 years ago, to work with them. At that time, I had told them that I would do it at a later stage in life because of the volume of filmwork that I was already committed to. If I were to take on a role, as an ambassador whether it’s for a brand, for the United Nations, or for a role as an actor, it is important for me to be able to commit that kind of time. It’s not about just having a title.

I chose to take that role this year because right now, it is effective, I can plan it into my schedule and it’s a very strong role with immense responsibility. I’ve taken on the role of being the global ambassador for UNAIDS, and that’s really about communicating, about having the next generation born free of HIV.

For that aspect, I would need to work with UNAIDS and speak to a lot of women out there, through the media and in person as when required, to educate women on health care that is accessible, if they come out and make their tests and access it.”

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for Longines
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for Longines. PHOTO: LONGINES

As you’ve said, you chose to be an UNAIDS ambassador only at this stage of your life. How do you feel about growing older? Have your priorities changed?
“No, absolutely not. I think age is a state of the mind. You’re just living from day to day. It’s not your chronological age that matters, it’s the state of mind that you’re in. I’ve said this when I was 18 and I say it (again) today.”

In that case, what would consider as your greatest personal achievement so far?
“Staying true to myself, (and) remaining as a very committed individual; someone who has been true and honest. (I’ve) held onto my integrity, to every commitment that I’ve made in life, personal or professional. That’s an achievement that I hold dear to myself and I hope to continue being that ‘til my last breath.”

What are your beauty secrets? How do you keep your healthy glow?
I think you need to be at peace and happy inside and out, with who you are as a person. I am an actor and I do have very hectic routines. But I’ve kept it simple and basic: cleansing, moisturising are important. And (do) keep your skin and hair healthy.

Could you share with us your upcoming projects? What are the “comeback” roles that you’ll like to play?
“Firstly, whatever films I take on, will not be viewed in any ‘comeback’ fashion. Because I haven’t gone anywhere. I’ve just taken a bit of a break from making films.

The break has been really short; barely the third month after Aaradhya (her one-year-old daughter) was born, I was already here on a Longines assignment. I’ve already been working on endorsements, my brand associations, social work. It’s been a very busy time throughout this year. And of course, my commitment as a family person, as a mother. My days have been very full, and so have my nights (she laughs again).

I’m reading film scripts now, and my attitude remains the same, as it always has. Any project that would excite me, whether it’s the role itself or the experience of working with a director, preferably with the combination of both, will probably define my choices, on what roles I take on. I’m not viewing (film roles) as any kind of ‘comeback’ vehicle. I don’t believe in that term at all.”

The Longines Singapore Gold Cup and Charity Luncheon were held on November 11, 2012 at the Singapore Turf Club.

View Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s past and present Longines campaigns, her public appearances as brand ambassador in the gallery below.