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Kareena Kapoor

Written By Aris Setiawan on Monday, November 14, 2011 | 11:58 PM

Kareena Kapoor (Hindi: करीना कपूर, pronounced [kəˈriːnaː kəˈpuːr]; born on 21 September 1980), often informally referred to as Bebo, is an Indian actress who appears in Bollywood films. During her career, Kapoor has received six Filmfare Awards, among nine nominations, and has been noted for her performances in a range of film genres; these include her work from contemporary romantic dramas to comedies, period films to major Bollywood productions, as well as less publicised independent films.

Born into a family where her parents, Randhir Kapoor and Babita, and elder sister Karisma were actors, Kapoor faced the media spotlight from a very young age, but did not make her acting debut until the 2000 film Refugee. Her melodrama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... became India's highest-grossing film in the overseas market in 2001, and is one of her biggest commercial successes to date. After receiving negative reviews for a series of repetitive roles, Kapoor accepted more demanding parts in order to avoid being typecast, and was consequently recognized by critics for displaying greater versatility as an actress. Her portrayal of a sex worker in Chameli (2004) proved to be the turning point in her career and she was later noted for her performances in the critically acclaimed projects Dev (2004) and Omkara (2006).

In 2007, Kapoor received the Filmfare Award for Best Actress for her performance in Jab We Met, a romantic comedy directed by Imtiaz Ali. She went on to play the lead female role in the thriller Kurbaan (2009), for which she earned critical acclaim, and the drama 3 Idiots (2009), which became the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time. Having done so, Kapoor has established herself as a leading actress of the Hindi film industry. In addition to movie acting, Kapoor is a regular stage performer and has launched her own clothing line in association with being the brand ambassador for the retail chain Globus. Her off-screen life, including her relationship with actor Saif Ali Khan, is the subject of wide media coverage in India.

Born in Mumbai, India, on 21 September 1980, into the Kapoor film family, Kapoor is the younger daughter of actors Randhir Kapoor and Babita (née Shivdasani); her elder sister Karisma Kapoor, is also an actress. She is the granddaughter of actor and filmmaker Raj Kapoor, great-granddaughter of actor Prithviraj Kapoor, and niece of actor Rishi Kapoor. According to Kapoor, the name "Kareena" was derived from the book Anna Karenina, which her mother read while she was pregnant with her. Often informally referred to as Bebo, she is of Punjabi descent from her father's side, and on her mother's side she is Sindhi.

As a child, she had strong aspirations to become an actress, and was particularly inspired by watching the films of Bollywood actresses Nargis and Meena Kumari. Kapoor, who describes herself as a "very naughty [and] spoilt child", would regularly dress up in her mother's clothes and perform in front of the mirror. Despite her family background, her father disapproved of women entering the acting profession because he believed it conflicted with the traditional maternal duties and responsibility of women in the family. This led to a conflict between her parents and resulted in Kapoor's mother leaving the house with her daughters. After her parents' separation, she was raised in Lokhandwala by her mother, who worked several jobs to support her daughters until Karisma debuted as an actress in 1991. Following her parents' reconciliation in October 2007, Kapoor explained that they "were never officially divorced ... [but] ... liv[ed] separately." Asked about the relationship she shared with her father, Kapoor remarked, "My father is ... an important factor in my life. [Al]though we did not see him often in our initial years, we are a family now."

Kapoor attended Jamnabai Narsee School in Mumbai before progressing to Welham Girls Boarding School in Dehradun. She later recalled, "I learnt so much from being at Welham", and described her experience there as "one of the finest parts of my life". According to Kapoor, she was a good student and received first-class honours in all subjects except mathematics. Upon graduating from the boarding school, she studied commerce for two years at Mithibai College in Vile Parle, Mumbai, but later confessed that she only studied there because she was close to her family. Kapoor then registered for a three-month summer course in microcomputers at Harvard University in the United States. She later developed an interest in law and enrolled at the Government Law College in Churchgate; during this period she became immersed in law books and developed a long-lasting passion for reading. However, after completing one year at Churchgate, Kapoor realized that she was not inclined towards academics and returned to her initial plan to become an actress. She began training at an acting institute in Andheri, mentored by Kishore Namit Kapoor, a member of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).

2000–03: Debut and breakthrough

Kapoor was initially scheduled to make her debut in Rakesh Roshan's Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai (2000), opposite the director's son Hrithik Roshan. Several days into the filming, however, she abandoned the project and later explained that, "it was probably destined that I was not to be in the film. After all, it was a launch for his son. The whole focus was on the boy. Now I am glad I did not do the movie."

She made her debut later that year in J.P. Dutta's war drama Refugee, alongside Abhishek Bachchan. Set during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, the film centers on a man known simply as "Refugee", who illegally transports civilians back and forth across the Indo-Pakistani border. Kapoor portrayed Naaz, a Bangladeshi girl who falls in love with Refugee while illegally migrating to Pakistan with her family. Her performance was acclaimed by critics; Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama wrote that Kapoor "has a magnetic personality, which will make the viewer fall in love with her instantly. What surprises you is the ease with which she emotes the most difficult of scenes  There is no denying the fact that she is a natural performer who is very camera friendly." On the experience of making her first film, she described it as "...tough ... [but] also a great learning experience." Refugee became the fifth highest-grossing film in India in 2000, and Kapoor's performance earned her the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut.

In 2001, Kapoor appeared opposite Tusshar Kapoor in the romantic drama Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai, which became one of the highest earners of the year. A review in The Hindu, in regards to her performance, noted that she was "definitely the actress to watch out for, if her debut with Abhishek in Refugee and now Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai are any indication. Kareena shines throughout the flick, with the grace of a seasoned sizzler already." She next starred in Subhash Ghai's family drama Yaadein alongside Jackie Shroff and Hrithik Roshan. The drama centers on the character of Raj Singh Puri, a middle-class man, and his daughters' marriages. Kapoor played the part of the youngest daughter and Roshan's love interest, Isha Singh Puri. The film was met with negative reactions from reviewers and garnered poor box office returns. Kapoor then appeared in the Abbas-Mustan thriller Ajnabee. The feature was adapted from the 1992 American thriller film Consenting Adults, and was a moderate box office success in India.

Later in the year, she played the female lead in Santosh Sivan's period epic Asoka, a partly fictionalized account of the life of Ashoka the Great. It was widely screened across the United Kingdom and North America, and was also selected for screening at the Venice Film Festival and the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival. Featured opposite Shahrukh Khan who played Ashoka, Kapoor portrayed the character of Kaurwaki—a princess of Kalinga with whom Ashoka falls in love—and received her first Filmfare Best Actress nomination. While the film received generally positive reviews, Kapoor's performance received a mixed reaction from critics. Rediff.com concluded that "while a large portion of the first half is focused on the emerging romance between the runaway prince and herself and to their credit they do manage to whip up some on-screen chemistry, I am still unsure as to her acting abilities." Meanwhile, David Rooney from Variety wrote, "Kapoor plays ornately tattooed Kaurwaki as a lively mix of flirtatious coquette and feisty warrior woman, kind of like J.Lo meets Michelle Yeoh."

Her final release of 2001 was Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham..., a melodrama, in which she featured as part of an ensemble cast that included Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Kajol and Hrithik Roshan. Directed by Karan Johar, the movie was a major financial success and became India's second highest-grossing film of the year, as well as Kapoor's highest-grossing movie up until then. It also performed well internationally and became one of the biggest Bollywood success of all time in the overseas market, earning over INR1,000 million (US$20.28 million) worldwide.[30] Kapoor's performance as "Poo", a good-natured but superficial girl, was described as "one of the main ... highlights of the film", and her portrayal earned her a Filmfare Best Supporting Actress nomination.

During 2002 and 2003, Kapoor experienced a setback in her career. She was in six films—Mujhse Dosti Karoge!, Jeena Sirf Merre Liye, Talaash: The Hunt Begins..., Khushi, Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon, and the four-hour war epic LOC Kargil—all of which proved critically and commercially unsuccessful in India. Kapoor's performances were often identified by critics as unoriginal and repetitive, with little inspiration. They expressed concern that she was becoming typecast, but these negative reviews were fundamental in motivating her to improve her integrity as an actress in subsequent years by accepting more demanding roles.

2004–06: Critical acclaim
A young woman with long, black hair smoking, holding the cigarette with her left hand. She wears a colorful dress and has bangles on her left hand. Her face is lighted from above, where she is looking.
As the prostitute Chameli in Chameli (2004), Kapoor's portrayal garnered her the Filmfare Special Performance Award.

Following the negative period in Kapoor's career, 2004 marked the beginning of her work in more serious films, most of which would bring her critical acclaim rather than commercial success. Under the direction of Sudhir Mishra, Kapoor portrayed the role of a prostitute in Chameli. The film relates the story of a young prostitute who meets with a widowed investment banker (played by Rahul Bose), and follows the development of their relationship as they share their devastating life experiences. When Kapoor was initially offered the role in 2002, she refused it, stating that she was reluctant to play a bold role at the beginning of her career. However, when the director again approached her a year later, she agreed to do the film and viewed it as an opportunity to show the range of her acting skills. To prepare for the role, she visited several of Mumbai's red-light district areas at night to study the dress and mannerisms of sex workers. Upon release, the film and Kapoor's performance opened to predominantly positive reviews by critics, with the Indiatimes praising her "intuitive brilliance" and stating that she had exceeded all expectations. Another reviewer, however expressed concern that they found her portrayal unconvincing and excessively stereotypical, describing her as "sounding more like a teenager playacting than a brash, hardened streetwalker", and likening her mannerisms to that of a caricature. Nonetheless, Kapoor's portrayal of Chameli garnered her the Filmfare Special Performance Award and the film marked a significant turning point in her career as an actress.

She next co-starred in Mani Ratnam's bilingual project Yuva alongside Ajay Devgn, Abhishek Bachchan, Vivek Oberoi, Rani Mukerji and Esha Deol. The film, consisting of three chapters, tells the story of six individuals linked by a car accident. Kapoor is featured in the third chapter as Oberoi's love interest, Mira, a young witty woman. In a review published by The Times of India, film critic Subhash K Jha described her role as "fey and insubstantial", but further stated that "she turns these character traits to her own advantage to create a girl who is at once enigmatic and all-there, a bit like the film itself which is both mysterious and voluptuous". She then appeared alongside Amitabh Bachchan and Fardeen Khan in Govind Nihalani's critically acclaimed film Dev, which revolved around the 2002 Hindu-Muslim riots in the Indian state of Gujarat. Kapoor's role was that of a Muslim victim named Aaliya, modelled after Zaheera Sheikh, a key witness in Vadodara's Best Bakery case. It earned her a Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress, as well as nominations for Best Actress at various award ceremonies. Taran Adarsh commented, "Kareena Kapoor is first-rate. Sporting a deglamorized look, the actress takes a giant leap with this film. Her scene with Amitabh Bachchan (when the latter asks for witnesses to come forward) is an example of superb acting."

Shortly afterwards, she was cast for the first time as a villain in the thriller Fida. The film follows the story of an on-line robbery and the Mumbai underworld with which her character Neha Mehra becomes involved. During the filming of Fida, Kapoor entered into a relationship with actor Shahid Kapoor, whom she later described as having "a major positive influence in my life." Although the film did not succeed at the box office, Kapoor garnered positive reviews for her performance, with some critics noting a distinct progression from her earlier roles. Her subsequent releases that year included Abbas-Mustan's thriller Aitraaz and Priyadarshan's comedy Hulchul, both of which did well at the Indian box office. Following the success of her last two releases, she was cast as the protagonist in the 2005 drama Bewafaa. The feature received mostly negative reviews and Kapoor's portrayal of Anjali Sahai, an unfaithful woman, was not well-received. Nikhat Kazmi of Indiatimes believed that in an effort to become a serious actress, Kapoor was embodying a maturer, more jaded character ahead of her years in Bewafaa which appeared peculiar for a young woman of her age. She then starred in Priyadarshan's romantic drama Kyon Ki, a film that relates the love story of a mentally ill patient, played by Salman Khan, and his physician, played by Kapoor. The film was a box office failure, though Kapoor's performance was generally enjoyed by critics, with the BBC reporting that she is " a pure natural when it comes to acting."

In 2006, Kapoor appeared in three films. She first starred in the thriller 36 China Town followed by the comedy Chup Chup Ke; both films performed reasonably well. She next portrayed the Shakespearean character of Desdemona in Omkara, the Hindi adaptation of William Shakespeare's Othello. Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, the film is a tragedy of sexual jealousy set against the backdrop of the political system in Uttar Pradesh. The film premiered at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival and was also selected for screening at the Cairo International Film Festival. Omkara was embraced by critics and Kapoor's portrayal earned her a fourth Filmfare Award and first Star Screen Award. her performance was later included in the 2010 issue of the "Top 80 Iconic Performances" by Filmfare. Kapoor herself considers her role in Omkara as a "new benchmark" in her career and has made comparisons between her portrayal of Dolly and her own evolving maturity as a woman.

Following Omkara, she stopped acting for a short time, as she felt that "nothing [was] challenging enough for me to say yes". In an interview with The Times of India, Kapoor commented, "In my initial years in the industry, I pushed myself to do a lot of work because I was greedy. I did some films – which I now regret – purely for the money. Today, I want to do selective films"; she later described this period as a way of "finally getting to do the things I have always wanted to do."

2007–present: Jab We Met and other works

Kapoor returned to film as the female protagonist Geet Dhillon, a vivacious Sikh girl with a strong zest for life, in the Imtiaz Ali directed romantic comedy Jab We Met (2007). Featured opposite Shahid Kapoor, the film relates the story of two people with contrasting personalities who meet on a train and eventually fall in love. The film was received favourably by critics and became one of the year's most successful films, with a domestic box office of INR303 million (US$6.14 million). Kapoor won several awards for her performance, including her second Screen Award as well as the Filmfare Award for Best Actress. Rajeev Masand from CNN-IBN noted, "Uninhibited and spontaneous, Kareena Kapoor is the soul of this picture, its biggest strength, as she brings alive her character with not just those smart lines, but with the kind of candor actors seldom invest in their work." While shooting for Jab We Met, Kapoor and Shahid ended their three-year relationship. Asked in Mumbai Mirror about their well-publicized break-up, she stated that "I hold him in utmost regard, and I hope one day we could be good friends. He is a great guy." During this period, speculation began to surface that she was dating actor Saif Ali Khan, her co-star in the film Tashan (2008). On October 18, 2007, during Manish Malhotra's grand finale show at the Lakme Fashion Week, Khan confirmed their relationship to the media.

In 2009, Kapoor was cast as Simrita Rai opposite Akshay Kumar in Sabbir Khan's battle of the sexes comedy Kambakkht Ishq. Set in Los Angeles, California, it became the first Indian film in history to be shot within Universal Studios Hollywood, California, and featured several cameo appearances from Hollywood actors. The film earned over INR840 million (US$17.04 million) worldwide, but was a critical failure. The Times of India described her performance as "a complete let-down" and further stated that "despite her haute-coutured look, micro minis [and] pencil heels, she comes across as a completely unconvincing supermodel cum surgeon." She next played the leading female role in the dramatic thriller Kurbaan, alongside Saif Ali Khan and Vivek Oberoi. The film, which marked the directorial debut of Rensil D'Silva, featured Kapoor in the role of Avantika Ahuja, a woman who is confined to house arrest after finding out that her husband is a terrorist. She described the film as "an emotionally draining experience", which did not let her disconnect from her character during shooting. Upon release, the film was critically embraced and Kapoor received her fourth Filmfare Best Actress nomination. According to Subhash K Jha, "Kurbaan belongs to Kareena Kapoor. In her most consistently-pitched performance to date she pulls out all stops to play a betrayed wife with splendid sensitivity. Kareena accommodates her radiant beauty into an utterly credible character and performance. At her best, Kareena is incomparable. She proves it in Kurbaan."

Her final release of the year was Rajkumar Hirani's drama 3 Idiots, a film loosely based on the novel Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat. Co-starring alongside Aamir Khan, R. Madhavan and Sharman Joshi, Kapoor starred as Pia, an independent-minded medical student and Khan's love interest. On acting alongside Khan, Kapoor revealed that it was "a dream come true" and further stated that her journey as an actress was "finally complete". The feature received much critical devotion and emerged as the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time, grossing INR2,026 million (US$41.09 million) at the Indian box office. It also did well internationally and earned over INR690 million (US$13.99 million), the second biggest Bollywood success of all time in the overseas market. Rediff.com opined that Kapoor dazzled with her "brief role, and even though a lot of her spunk seems significantly Jab We Met in tone, she lights up the screen when she is around." During the 55th Filmfare Awards, Kapoor received another Best Actress nomination for her role.

In 2010, she appeared in the romantic comedy Milenge Milenge, a production that had been delayed since 2005. The feature garnered negative reviews and poor box office returns. Kapoor's role was small and was not well-received. She next took the supporting role of the career-oriented Shreya Arora in We Are Family, the Hindi adaptation of the 1998 Hollywood release Stepmom. Prior on commencing work for the project, Kapoor explained that she did not want to watch the original film in an attempt to "interpret the role...in my own style". Reaction to the film was mostly lukewarm, but Kapoor's performance drew positive reviews and ultimately won her the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress; critic Priyanka Roy of The Telegraph reported that Kapoor " breathes life and a new-found maturity into what is largely a uni-dimensional character lacking depth." At the end of the year, Kapoor reunited with director Rohit Shetty for his sequel to the 2008 release Golmaal Returns. Like its predecessor, the project was met with mixed reactions from reviewers, though became the most successful entry in the Golmaal film series, earning more than INR1,000 million (US$20.28 million) domestically. For her portrayal of the tomboy Daboo, Kapoor went on to receive several Best Actress nominations at a number of award ceremonies, including Filmfare. A review in MiD DAY described her as "[the film's]...real hero...who takes the story forward."

By July 2011, Kapoor completed shooting for the Hindi remake of the 2010 Malayalam film Bodyguard, and the science fiction Ra.One. She is scheduled to appear in Dharma Productions' Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu alongside Imran Khan, as well as Sriram Raghavan's action-thriller Agent Vinod, both of which began principal photography in late 2010.

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