MUMBAI: Bollywood’s golden couple, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and her husband Abhishek, became proud parents for the first time on Wednesday with the birth of a baby girl who joins a celebrated acting dynasty.
India’s normally breathless television news channels only made passing reference to the birth, however, keeping to an agreement among broadcasters to restrain their reporting of the family’s private life. Former Miss World Rai Bachchan, 38, gave birth at the private Seven Hills Hospital in Mumbai, hospital staff told AFP.
“IT’S A GIRL!,” Abhishek, 35, wrote on his Twitter account, @juniorbachchan, without giving any further details. Bachchan’s father, Bollywood legend Amitabh, tweeted his joy at the new arrival:
“A dada ji (a grandfather)…Ecstatic!”, calling his new granddaughter “the cutest baby girl”. Amitabh is already a grandfather as his daughter, Shweta Nanda, has two children. Media coverage of the event was muted even though Rai Bachchan and her husband are top stars and, along with Amitabh and his actress wife Jaya, are considered to be Bollywood’s “royal family”.
Bachchan senior — a compulsive blogger and tweeter — has had a prickly relationship with the media in the past and has criticised outlets that misrepresent him or intrude on his family’s privacy.
Last week broadcasters reportedly agreed on an unprecedented series of measures, including not to trail the event in advance or even run the announcement on “breaking news” captions.
News channels, which are normally highly competitive, all appeared to be toeing the line by avoiding rolling coverage of the birth, although it was mentioned in brief.
Outside broadcast vans were not sent to Bachchan’s home or the hospital, while astrology shows, which are popular in India to forecast future fortunes, have also reportedly been ruled off-limits. Instead, it was left to the Internet for fans to wish the Bachchans well as congratulations poured in via Twitter, with #BabyB quickly trending among Indian users of the micro-blogging site. Among fellow celebrities, Bollywood director and family friend Karan Johar wrote:
“Congratulations!! Baby B had a baby girl!!… am sure she will be the prettiest girl ever!!!”
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan took the Miss World crown in 1994 and made her debut in Bollywood in the late 1990s. She has since gone on to star in more than 40 Indian films.
She was most recently seen in the South Indian film blockbuster “Endhiran” (Robot) with the Tamil-language superstar Rajinikanth, which broke box office records in India.
She has also appeared as a jewel thief in Steve Martin’s “The Pink Panther 2”. Her other English-language films include “Bride and Prejudice” (2004), by “Bend It Like Beckham” director Gurinder Chadha, and “The Last Legion” (2007).
Before her pregnancy was announced, she was at this year’s Cannes film festival to promote her latest project “Heroine”.
Filming had been due to start this year but in June its producers said the movie had been put on hold because of the pregnancy.