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(Hindi: करीना कपूर; born September 21, 1980), nicknamed Bebo, is an Indian film actress appearing in Bollywood films. Born into the Kapoor film family, she made her acting debut with Refugee (2000), for which she won a Filmfare Best Female Debut Award. In 2001, Kapoor received her first commercial success with her second release, Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai and later appeared in Karan Johar's melodrama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, which became India's top-grossing film in the overseas market that year and her biggest commercial success to date.
After receiving negative reviews due to a series of unsuccessful films and repetitive roles between 2002 and 2003, Kapoor accepted more demanding parts to avoid being typecast. Her portrayal of a sex worker in Chameli (2004) proved to be the turning point in her career and garnered her the Filmfare Special Performance Award. She later received two Critics Awards for Best Actress at the Filmfare for her performances in the critically acclaimed Dev (2004) and Omkara (2006). After taking on such a range of acting roles between 2004 and 2006, she was recognized for displaying versatility as an actress.
In 2007, Kapoor earned a Filmfare Best Actress Award for her performance in the commercially successful comedy-romance Jab We Met. Although the box office earnings of her films have varied considerably, Kapoor has established herself as one of the leading contemporary actresses in the Hindi film industry.
Early life and family
Main article: Kapoor family
Born in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India into the Kapoor film family of Punjabi origin, Kapoor is the youngest daughter of actors Randhir Kapoor and Babita (née Shivdasani). According to Kapoor, her first name was derived from the book Anna Karenina. She is the granddaughter of actor and filmmaker Raj Kapoor and the great granddaughter of Prithviraj Kapoor. Bebo, as she is fondly called, is also the sister of actress Karisma Kapoor and the niece of actor Rishi Kapoor.
Despite being born into a successful acting family, her father insisted that she marry early according to Indian tradition and avoid acting. In an interview with Encyclopedia Britannica, he stated that the problem was not women acting itself, given that both he and his brother married well-known actresses as did their uncles. Rather, his concerns arose from the purported incompatibility between acting and the maternal duties and responsibility of women in the family. This led to irreconcilable differences between her parents and resulted in her mother leaving the house along with Kapoor and her older sister. She was raised by her mother, who, with difficulty, worked several jobs to support the family, until Karisma began work as an actress in 1991.
Kapoor was educated at Jamnabai Narsee School in Mumbai, and later Welham Girls Boarding School in Dehradun. After studying commerce at Mithibai College, Vile Parle for two years, she embarked upon a three-month summer course in microcomputers at Harvard University. She later developed an interest in law and enrolled at the Government's Law College in Churchgate. After completing one year there, she returned to her initial plan to become an actress and commenced training under Kishore Namit Kapoor's Acting Institute.
Early work, until 2000
Kapoor was initially scheduled to make her debut in Rakesh Roshan's Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai (2000), opposite his son, Hrithik Roshan. However, several days into the filming, 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."
After turning down Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai, Kapoor made her acting debut later that same year in J.P. Dutta's war drama Refugee, opposite Abhishek Bachchan. Set during the Indo-Pakistani conflicts, the film centers on a young man known simply as Refugee (played by Bachchan) who illegally transports civilians back and forth across the Pakistan border. Kapoor portrayed the role of Naaz, a Bangladeshi girl who falls in love with him while migrating to Pakistan. Her performance was acclaimed by critics; Taran Adarsh of indiaFM wrote, "Kareena 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's no denying the fact that she is a natural performer who is very camera friendly." Kapoor's performance earned her the Filmfare Best Female Debut Award, and Refugee went on to become the fifth-highest grossing film of the year.
In 2001, Kapoor starred opposite Tusshar Kapoor in Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai, a romantic drama film directed by Satish Kaushik. Revolving around the story about a troubled young man who falls in love with Pooja, played by Kareena, the film went on to become one of the highest earners of the year. However, subsequent releases such as Yaadein and Ajnabee that followed for Kapoor did indifferent business at the box office.
Later that year, she starred in Santosh Sivan's period epic Asoka, a partly fictionalized account of the life of Ashoka the Great (304 BC–232 BC), one of the noted Indian emperors of the Maurya Empire. Featured opposite Shahrukh Khan who took centre stage as Ashoka, Kapoor portrayed the character of Kaurwaki, a princess of Kalinga with whom Ashoka falls deeply in love. While the film received generally positive reviews, Kapoor's acting performance received a mixed reaction from some critics, with some believing her contribution to the film was primarily for aesthetic purposes. A review on Rediff.com said about her performance, "Kareena flashes a lot of skin and fills up the screen for a large portion of the first half. 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". Nonetheless, her performance was praised by some critics and earned her a first nomination for Best Actress at the Filmfare Awards.
Kapoor's final release of 2001 was the drama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, which was released on December 14 of that year and was directed by Karan Johar. The film—which had a multi-starred cast that included Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Kajol and Hrithik Roshan—emerged as the second-highest-grossing film of the year in India, as well as Kapoor's highest-grossing movie to date. It also performed well internationally and became the year's top-grossing Bollywood film overseas, earning over Rs 800 million worldwide. Her performance as "Poo" was well received by critics, and earned her a Filmfare Best Supporting Actress nomination. Taran Adarsh noted, "Kareena Kapoor is one of the main highlights of the film. She provides the much-needed fun and entertainment in the second half; her performance will be loved by the youth. Playing a cosmetic beauty to the hilt, she is simply adorable."
During 2002 and 2003, Kapoor experienced a slump in her career. She featured in six films in total—Mujhse Dosti Karoge! and Jeena Sirf Merre Liye in 2002, and Talaash: The Hunt Begins..., Khushi, Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon and the four hour J.P. Dutta war epic LOC Kargil in 2003—all of which proved critically and commercially unsuccessful in India. Yash Raj Films' Mujhse Dosti Karoge!, directed by Kunal Kohli on his debut, was a film with high public anticipation, yet it under-performed at the domestic box office despite generating revenue overseas. One critic reported that "Kareena Kapoor is inconsistent. The actress looks ravishing in every frame, but she repeats her smug act in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham to an annoying effect here." Another film during this period was Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon, which released the following year. The film, directed by Sooraj R. Barjatya under the Rajshri Productions banner, also fared poorly at the box office in India despite becoming a success overseas. Kapoor's performance was again identified by many critics as unoriginal and repetitive, with little inspiration. Her role was considered by some to be a repeat of her earlier performances and characters in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Yaadein, and her previous film Khushi. At the time, critics expressed concern that Kapoor was becoming typecast. These negative reviews were fundamental in motivating her to embody different roles, often with a stronger essence of character, in the years that followed.
Turning point, 2004–present
Following the negative period in her career between 2002 and 2003, the year 2004 marked the beginning of Kapoor's work with independent film directors and more serious roles, most of which would bring her critical acclaim rather than commercial success. Under the direction of Sudhir Mishra, Kapoor played a prostitute in Chameli opposite Rahul Bose, which takes the name of her central character. Chameli relates the story of a young prostitute who meets with a widowed investment banker, and follows their way of getting close to each other by sharing their devastating life experiences. The film garnered predominantly positive reviews and Kapoor's performance earned her the Filmfare Special Performance Award. Indiatimes wrote about her performance, "... Kareena goes way beyond anyone's expectations, including most decidedly her own, to deliver an all-time great performance, on a par with Nargis in Mehboob Khan's Mother India (1957), Meena Kumari in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962) and Shabana Azmi in Mahesh Bhatt's Arth (1982). Kareena flashes an intuitive brilliance that comes to movies very, very rarely indeed".
Kapoor then featured opposite Amitabh Bachchan and Fardeen Khan in Govind Nihalani's critically acclaimed Dev. The film centres around the Gujarat riots and communal violence which prevailed between February and May 2002 in the Indian State of Gujarat between the Hindu and Muslim communities.
Modeled after Zahira Sheikh, a key witness in Vadodara's Best Bakery case, Kapoor's role was that of a middle-class Muslim girl named Aaliya who falls victim to the riots. Her performance earned her a Filmfare Critics Award for Best Performance, 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 after that, Kapoor was cast in her first uncivil role in the thriller Fida opposite Shahid Kapoor and Fardeen Khan. The film deals with Internet theft and an underworld of Mumbai gangsters in which her character Neha Mehra becomes involved. Although the film failed to earn significantly at the box office, Kapoor received positive reviews for her performance. The Tribune noted, "Kareena Kapoor delivers well. She looks tired, but manages to freshen you up with her bitchy smile"; Rediff.com concluded, "Kareena has finally moved beyond "Poo" in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and has come into her own." Her subsequent releases that year included Abbas-Mustan's moderately successful thriller, Aitraaz, and Priyadarshan's comedy Hulchul, her first box-office hit since 2002.
In 2005, Kapoor appeared in three films. Her first release was the Dharmesh Darshan directed drama Bewafaa, in which she co-starred alongside Anil Kapoor, Akshay Kumar and Sushmita Sen. Kapoor played the lead role as the Indo-Canadian Anjaji, who marries her sister's husband after her death, but unsatisfied with the ensuing married life resumes a relationship with her previous boyfriend. The film received mixed reviews and Kapoor's performance was not well-received by critics. Later in the year, she appeared in Priyadarshan's romantic drama Kyon Ki opposite Salman Khan. The drama depicts the story of a man, who is hospitalized due to his inability to overcome the shock of accidentally killing his fiancé. In hospital, he meets Kapoor's character, Dr. Tanvi Khurana. Although the film failed to make a profit at the box-office, Kapoor's performance was generally well-received. The BBC wrote, "It goes without saying that she is a pure natural when it comes to acting." Kapoor then featured in the romance Dosti: Friends Forever alongside Akshay Kumar, Bobby Deol and Lara Dutta. The film, whilst only a moderate success in India, became the highest earning Bollywood film of 2005 in the United Kingdom.
In 2006, Kapoor starred in the thriller 36 China Town, followed by the comedy Chup Chup Ke. Both films performed moderately well at the box office. She next portrayed the role of Desdemona in Omkara, a Hindi adaptation of William Shakespeare's Othello. Directed by Vishal Bharadwaj, the film starred Kapoor alongside Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan, Vivek Oberoi and Konkona Sen Sharma. Her performance was praised, earning Kapoor her fourth Filmfare Award and first Star Screen Award. Rediff.com commented that "Her character is one of the hardest to essay, as she goes through love and awe, fear and bewilderment, defiance to her father and submission to her man. Kareena doesn't have the lines, but she has moments demanding powerful use of expression, and she delivers."
Later that year, she appeared in an item number in Farhan Akhtar's Don - The Chase Begins Again, a remake of the 1978 Bollywood film Don. Although Kapoor's performance was generally well-received, critics commented that she did not perform as well in the role as Helen did in the original version.
The following year, she co-starred alongside Shahid Kapoor in Imtiaz Ali's comedy-romance Jab We Met. Relating the story of two people with contrasting personalities who meet on a train and eventually fall in love, Kapoor played the female protagonist Geet Dhillon, a vivacious Sikhni girl with a strong zest for life. The film was received favourably by critics and became one of the year's most successful films at the box office. Kapoor won several awards for her performance, including a Filmfare Best Actress Award and her second Star Screen 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. I can't think of a greater compliment to pay her than to say with full confidence that no actress could play Geet better than Kareena has."
Following the success of Jab We Met, Kapoor starred as Pooja Singh, a woman who seduces men to achieve her goals in the action-thriller Tashan (2008). The film, which marked her comeback to the Yash Raj Films banner, was a critical and commercial failure, though Kapoor's performance received positive reviews by critics. Sonia Chopra from Sify concluded, "Kareena is in the swash-buckling, action-mode avatar and she doesn’t disappoint [...] She depicts the entire range of her character from anger, emotion, comedy and ruthlessness with marvellous alacrity, even excelling in the action scenes." As of July 2008, Kapoor has completed filming for Golmaal Returns—the sequel to the 2006 comedy Golmaal—as well as the animated movie Roadside Romeo, both of which are scheduled to release in late 2008. Confirmed future projects include Prem Soni's drama Main Aur Mrs. Khanna and the romantic drama Kambakth Ishq, opposite Akshay Kumar.
During her years in the film industry, Kapoor has also devoted time to other commitments, from being involved with humanitarian causes to taking part in stage shows. In 2002, Kapoor set off on her first world tour, the Heartthrobs Concert, alongside Hrithik Roshan, Karisma Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Aftab Shivdasani. The show was performed throughout the US and Canada and went on to become a success. In November 2003, Kapoor performed at the Marco Ricci Each One Reach One Benefit Concert, a fundraiser for the World Youth Peace Summit, whilst in 2005 she, along with other Bollywood stars, took part in the HELP! Telethon Concert to help raise money for the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. Later that year, she visited the desert heartland of Rajasthan to boost the morale of the jawans for a special Holi weekend episode on the NDTV show, Jai Jawan. The show consists of entertainers and stars visiting Indian troops in far-flung regions along with the NDTV team.
In 2006, Kapoor took part in the Rockstars Concert world tour, along with Salman Khan, Zayed Khan, John Abraham, Shahid Kapoor, Esha Deol and Mallika Sherawat. The following year Kapoor, along with Priyanka Chopra, donated her half-share of 50 lakh rupees from her winnings on the season finale of Kaun Banega Crorepati to St. Anthony's Old Age Home and Mount Mary's Bandra. In June 2008, Kapoor appeared on the television game show Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hain? alongside boyfriend Saif Ali Khan. Earning a total of 500,000 rupees, Kapoor again donated half of her winnings to St. Anthony's Old Age Home, Bandra.
Gossip columnists have linked Kapoor to a number of her co-stars, but she has strongly denied of all these rumors. In 2004, she began dating actor Shahid Kapoor, the son of veteran actor Pankaj Kapoor. While dating, their relationship was often reported in the media, and was once in the center of a scandal when onlookers with mobile phone cameras filmed them kissing and released it to the media. The couple separated three years later while filming Jab We Met (2007). Though the media initially perceived it as a publicity stunt for the film, it was later confirmed that the couple had indeed broken up. According to her, they remained on good terms, and she said in an interview, "I have seen Shahid from his first film to Jab We Met and I can say that there is a marked difference. According to me he is a bundle of talent waiting to explode. I have that much of faith in him as an actor."
In September 2007, during her breakup with Kapoor, rumors began floating around that she was seeing actor Saif Ali Khan. On October 18, 2007, during Manish Malhotra's grand finale show at the Lakme Fashion Week, Khan confirmed their relationship to the media saying, "Yes, we are not exactly shouting from the rooftops but yes, clearly we are together. And we are happy together!" Their relationship is frequently reported on in the media, and is often subject to press speculation of a possible engagement or marriage. However, both of them have denied these rumours.
In 2006, Kapoor declared that she would turn vegetarian in order to keep her weight in check.
In the media
Hailing from a family deeply involved in the film industry, Kapoor faced the media spotlight from a very young age despite not making her acting debut until 2000. As a child, Kapoor attended award ceremonies and events with her mother Babita and sister Karisma Kapoor, and would also accompany her sister on set during filming. In recent years, in response to media speculation, Kapoor has developed a nonchalant relationship with the media and has gained a reputation for discussing her professional or private life with the press without any reservations.
In 2004, Kapoor was ranked third on Rediff's "Top Bollywood Female Stars". She was later ranked seventh and fifth in 2005–2006 respectively, and came back to the third position in 2007. In addition to that, Kapoor has also frequently been featured in different lists by Rediff, including "Bollywood's Most Beautiful Actresses", "Bollywood's Hottest Heroines", "Bollywood's Best Dressed Women" and "Women of Many Faces". During 2005, Kapoor made her first appearance on Karan Johar's talk show Koffee with Karan alongside Rani Mukerji, whilst two years later she appeared along with Shahid Kapoor and Karisma Kapoor. The following year, Kapoor appeared as a guest judge alongside Priyanka Chopra on the singing talent contest Indian Idol 2. Several months later, she modeled and walked the ramp along with Shahid Kapoor and actress Urmila Matondkar for Manish Malhotra's fashion display, titled Freedom, during Fashion Week 2006.
In February 2007, Kapoor appeared fourth on Indiatimes' list of "Top 10 Hottest Actresses of Bollywood", and later that year, became the only actress to be featured among "The Highest Tax Payers of 2006–07". In July, she was declared the winner of PETA's "Cutest Vegetarian Celebrities" online poll with actor R. Madhavan. Later in the year, the actress was ranked number 8 by the U.K. magazine Eastern Eye as one of "Asia's Sexiest Women" and was among several Bollywood celebrities to perform at the opening ceremony of Kapil Dev’s Indian Cricket League (ICL) in Chandigarh.
June 2008 saw Kapoor walk the ramp once again for Manish Malhotra's fashion display at the 2008 IIFA Fashion Extravaganza. Proceeds from the show were given to the IIFA Foundation, a charity organization set up by the International Indian Film Academy to support families of film industry workers who have been adversely affected during the production of a film.