New Delhi, Such is the oomph that Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai exudes that it can even leave speechless a hard-bitten politico like Amar Singh who has mastered the turn of phrase and is used to being surrounded by TV reporters eager for a sound byte.
That’s exactly what happened at the Rashtrapati Bhawan Tuesday as Aishwarya arrived in style to receive her Padma Shri civilian honour from President Pratibha Patil.
Tall and lissome and clad in an embroidered pink sari, she was quite naturally the cynosure of all eyes as she regally swept into the ornate Durbar Hall for the ceremony.
It was only a little later that the audience realised that she was accompanied by her equally tall father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan and the rather shorter Amar Singh, who is the general secretary of the Samajwadi Party and a very visible face on TV these days in the run up to the general elections.
As the TV cameras rolled and the still photographers clicked away furiously, Aishwarya quite visibly savoured the moment even as Singh seemed lost.
Cut to the Banquet Hall where the guests adjourend to after the ceremony for high tea.
As she entered, Aishwarya was quickly surrounded by eager autograph seekers thrusting forward everything from invitation cards to writing pads to pieces of paper for her to sign.
A smaller group surrounded Bachchan and as for Amar Singh, he moved from one to the other, not quite knowing what to do.
Finally, he decided to call it a day and slunk into the background, his expression seeming to say: “What am I doing here?”
And, when Aishwarya trooped out as grandly as she had swept in, Amar Singh quietly followed her and Bachchan.
“Come on, give him a break,” remarked a wag. “Perhaps he’s feeling lost because this is one place he can’t play his politics.”
“It’s not that,” remarked another. “It’s called the Aishwarya effect of being overshadowed.”