Aishwarya Rai and Vidya Balan to Clash with Similarly Themed Films

Aishwarya Rai and Vidya Balan are poised for a professional face-off with their upcoming films Heroine and Dirty Picture.

Both films have broadly similar settings – Superstar actresses tail-spinning into professional obscurity or doom.

Balan's Dirty Picture - produced by Ekta Kapoor and directed by Milan Luthra - additionally stars Naseeruddin Shah, Emraan Hashmi and Tusshar Kapoor. The film is based on the life of South star Silk Smitha whose life tragically ended with suicide.

In the film, Vidya plays an actress and Emraan, a filmmaker. The two share a volatile relationship. Their moral values are so much at odds that they hate each other, yet they inexorably gravitate into a relationship.

Heroine - announced on May 13 at the 64th Cannes Film Festival by UTV and Madhur Bhandarkar - headlines Aishwarya Rai.

The film is reportedly inspired by the life of Marilyn Monroe. The protagonist is a superstar heroine with a career on the decline, who is terrified of fading into obscurity. The film is a behind the scenes account of the reality behind the world of glitz and glamor that the film stars inhabit. A glimpse into what really goes on behind closed doors of make up rooms and vanity vans.

Both films are voyeuristic insights into the relaxed morality that often accompanies fame in the world of showbiz.

Dirty Picture and Heroine don't have similar plot, but they have overlapping backdrops. They also have two formidable stars as protagonist, so comparison will be inevitable.

Vidya is formidable because of her talent, and Aishwarya because of her star value and huge fan base.

If Vidya's film hits the box office first and she gives a memorable performance, something that she seems to do very easily, it will be an uphill battle for Heroine.

The film that hits theaters second also runs the risk of audience rejection because of apparent plot similarities.

Balan's Dirty Picture started production first but still doesn't have a release date.

Team Heroine has indicated that production of their film will start in June, and it will be fast paced.

Our sources tell us that Aishwarya has given bulk rates to Heroine, ironically at the cost of Raj Kumar Santoshi's film that pairs her with her husband Abhishek Bachchan!

The Santoshi film was to start production in June - July.

Team Heroine is in right earnest and want to get to the box office first. But then, Ekta Kapoor isn't known to be a pushover.