Actors bag roles in a variety of ways. Some get a role because they suit a character, some through their repertoire of work, some by reputation, craft or even connections. Getting a role is in the hands of the makers of the film.
Aishwarya Rai's performance in Taal was appreciated by all. The film was also a major success. Before Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Taal in 1999 Aishwarya was not well-received for her performances and her films failed to perform at the box office. Subhash Ghai her director on Taal once spoke about why he chose Aishwarya Rai for the film.
How Aishwarya got her role in Taal
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan positively shined in Taal, until Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Taal released, Aishwarya Rai was only known for her beauty and her Miss World win. The actress had to work hard to cement her status as a bonafide actress in Bollywood.
Her character in Taal, Mansi also received a lot of praise. When one looks back now, it's hard to imagine anybody else in the role. But, director Subhash Ghai had set his eyes on other heroines like Mahima Chaudhary and Manisha Koirala before he selected Aishwarya. Finally the film was made with Anil Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai and Akshaye Khanna.
When asked about why he chose to do the film with Aishwarya Rai during an interview, Ghai had this to say, "When I select a star or an actor, I always look at their inner selves. I never look at their outer personality, or whether they have been a hit, how big a star they are, or what the media is writing about them, or what kind of craze there is around them. Whether they're a flop or hit, that's not important to me. When I meet an actor I look at their inner selves. When I met Aishwarya Rai her films weren't doing well. But I saw her inner beauty, I saw the raw beauty in her that perhaps others hadn't seen."
He further spoke about the character, "Mansi's character in Taal, she's a beautiful soul emerging from the Earth, who doesn't know herself how beautiful she is. When the world tells her she is beautiful, what happens to her? When she is faced with different types of challenges, how does she deal with them? That's the kind of beauty she (Mansi) possesses, and that's why I chose Ash (Aishwarya)." That seems fitting, who better to play Mansi than someone who's seen a similar trajectory?