As the controversy surrounding Salman Khan gets bigger, Aishwarya Rai has finally broken her silence.
In a conversation with this reporter, the actress stated, "I cannot comment on any of the content in the tape or the ensuing debates and discussions on them. The matter has been taken over by the law. Let the legal system take its course. I've nothing to say about an association that ended a long time ago."
Thanks to the controversy, a big question mark hovers over Salman Khan's pending projects, particularly editor-turned-director Shirish Kunder's Jaan-e-Man featuring Salman, Preity Zinta and Akshay Kumar.
On Saturday, the shooting for Jaan-e-Man was abruptly halted. No explanations were offered either by producer Sajid Nadiadwala (a close friend of Salman) or Kunder. In fact, every attempt was made to hush up the matter.
In the light of her name cropping in the most unsavoury language and context in the notorious tapes, will the principled Preity (who incidentally took on the underworld some years ago by testifying against them in court) agree to work with Salman in future?
She had starred opposite Khan in the controversial underworld-funded Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, apparently without knowing the film's or its financier's antecedents.
More recently, after a great deal of persuasion from the Khans, she agreed to do an extended guest appearance in Salman's brother-in-law Atul Agnihotri's directorial debut, Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahaa.
She says, "I've made the parameters of our interaction very clear to Salman. So there's absolutely no room for ambiguity. He's just fine with me."
Now with Salman making ghastly and unmentionable references to his rapport with Preity, and in the light of the abrupt cancellation of the shooting on Saturday, it appears unlikely that she will agree to be a part of a Salman project again.
Says a close friend of the actress, "She has too much self-respect, dignity and spunk to pander to any hero's ego, let alone be civil to someone who makes disparaging comments about her."
Even as Preity's presence in Jaan-e-Man hangs in suspense, the film's other leading man Akshay Kumar says he has nothing against working with Salman Khan, in spite of the recent story about Salman's behaviour with Akshay's wife Twinkle.
Dismissing the story as bunk, and attributing it to a mischievous source which wanted to create a rift between the actors, Akshay says everything is cool between the two.