ONE of the most beautiful leading ladies in the history of Indian cinema, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan will turn a year older this week and celebrate her 44th birthday on November 1. Eastern Eye decided to celebrate by selecting the seven most magnificent performances delivered by a shining star admired globally.

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1998): Although she starred in blockbuster hit Taal in the same year, this musical romance was the movie that turned her into a huge star. She plays a woman torn between her husband and a lost love in the Sanjay Leela Bhansali musical, which gained Aishwarya her first Filmfare Best Actress award.

Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000): The actress has regularly shown off her talent in regional cinema and did exactly that in this Tamil adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Sense And Sensibility. The critical and commercial success was later dubbed and released in Telugu. The multi-award winning drama scooped the Filmfare award for Best Tamil Film and was universally praised for encouraging female independence.

Devdas (2002): The biggest budget Bollywood film ever made at that time was the highest grossing release of 2002. The most lavish cinematic adaptation of the famous novel saw Aishwarya tackle the role of Parvati. She won a Filmfare Best Actress award for her performance. The movie also started her long love affair with the Cannes Film Festival.

Chokher Bali (2003): The actress continued to explore new cinematic horizons with a lead role in this Bengali drama based on Rabindernath Tagore’s classic novel. Her performance of a young widow trying to find love was praised. It won a number of awards and was showcased at film festivals around the world. The film was later dubbed into Hindi and released internationally in that language.

Raincoat (2004): She teamed up with director Rituparno Ghosh again for this critically acclaimed movie, which was based on classic short story The Gift Of The Magi. She plays an unhappily married woman who has a chance encounter with a down on his luck lost love during a rainy night. The small gem of a movie won a National Award for Best Film.

Guru (2007): The Mani Ratnam-directed drama, which is based on real life events, was a resounding box office success. Aishwarya stars opposite future husband Abhishek Bachchan in the story of a man who rises from nothing to become a tycoon, with his lady love by his side. The actress delivered a versatile performance as she ages in the film and was nominated for various prestigious awards.

Jodhaa Akbar (2008): The eternal beauty went back in time for this historical romance to play the fearless queen Jodhaa Bai. The power-packed drama would go on to win Best Film at a number of prestigious award ceremonies and gave the actress another stand out moment in her career.