Bollywood diva Aishwarya Rai Bachchan will receive a special invitation from the French government, to attend the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. This will be the 66th edition of the iconic event and will have a heavy Bollywood presence; the Hindi film industry is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

The 39-year-old former Miss World has walked the red carpets at Cannes, every year, for over a decade now, and has also been honoured with one of the French government's highest civilian awards - Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres).

The French Ambassador to India, Francois Richier, told reporters Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was highly regarded in his country because of her long-term association with the film festival. Richier said: "She is very dear to our heart and we are very grateful to her. The Cannes festival will have a special focus on Indian Cinema where we will invite Indian film stars."

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Weight Gain

The stunning actress' history with the Cannes Film Festival includes one trying period in her life, when she faced scathing criticism in her homeland for refusing to lose weight after her pregnancy. The actress gave birth to a daughter, Aaradhya Bachachan, on 16 November, 2011.

Aishwarya maintained, all through the build-up to the 2012 Cannes festival that she preferred being a healthy mother, to a healthy baby, to the rigorous demands of the entertainment industry and would return to her pre-pregnancy looks only in her own time. She made her customary appearance at Cannes in 2012 but instead of the fashion disaster many predicted, the actress restored her reputation for style and elegance. And she appears to have firmly won back her place among the galaxy of Bollywood stars, following a stage show at The Times of India Film Awards, in Vancouver, Canada.

Cannes and Bollywood

Meanwhile, it is believed the festival organisers will invite, among others, legendary actors Amitabh Bachchan and South Indian cultural icon Rajinikanth.

Bachchan, 70, will release his Hollywood debut at Cannes. The actor, who is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's father-in-law, stars in The Great Gatsby, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Isla Fisher and Carey Mulligan.

The film, based on the American author Francis Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel of the same name, will open the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. It is expected to have a theatre release in the US and in India on 10 May, with the UK release scheduled for 16 May.

The 2013 Cannes Film Festival starts on 15 May and runs to 26 May. Acclaimed and Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg will be Head of Jury for the main competition.