Born in Mumbai, Maharashtra into the Kapoor film family of Punjabi Khatri origin, Kapoor is the youngest daughter of actors Randhir Kapoor and Babita (née Shivdasani). She is the granddaughter of actor and filmmaker Raj Kapoor, great-granddaughter of actor Prithviraj Kapoor, sister of actress Karisma 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. She is also often informally referred to as Bebo.
As children, the Kapoor sisters dreamed of becoming actresses. Kapoor was particularly inspired by actresses Nargis and Meena Kumari. However, despite her family background, her father disapproved of women acting because he believed it to be incompatible with their duty to the family. This led to conflict between her parents, and Kapoor's mother ultimately left her father. Kapoor was raised in Lokhandwala by her mother who worked several jobs to support her daughters until Karisma debuted as an actress in 1991.
Kapoor attended Jamnabai Narsee School in Mumbai before progressing to Welham Girls Boarding School in Dehradun. She studied commerce for two years at the Mithibai College in Vile Parle, Mumbai. However, she disliked her term there and studied only 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. However, after completing one year at Churchgate, Kapoor returned to her initial plan to become an actress and began training at the Kishore Namit Kapoor's Acting Institute in Andheri.
Kapoor was initially scheduled to make her debut in Rakesh Roshan's Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai (2000), opposite the director's 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."
Kapoor made her debut later that year in J.P. Dutta's war drama Refugee. Set during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, the film centers on a man known simply as "Refugee" (portrayed by debutant Abhishek Bachchan). He 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. Her debut 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." Refugee was the fifth-highest grossing film in India in 2000, and Kapoor's performance earned her the Filmfare Best Female Debut Award.
Kapoor's first role in 2001 was in the romantic drama Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai, which became one of the highest earners of the year. A review in The Hindu noted that, "Kareena is 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. Upon release, the film met with mixed critical reaction and garnered poor box office returns. Kapoor then appeared in the Abbas-Mustan thriller Ajnabee. The film, based on Consenting Adults (1992), was a moderate box office success in India.
Later in the year, she starred in Santosh Sivan's period epic Asoka, a partly fictionalized account of the life of Ashoka the Great. The film had a strong release in the United Kingdom and North America. It was also screened 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. While the film received generally positive reviews, Kapoor's performance received a mixed reaction from some 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". 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, directed by Karan Johar. The film, which featured an ensemble cast of Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Kajol and Hrithik Roshan, emerged as the second-highest-grossing film of the year in India and Kapoor's biggest commercial success, with a domestic total of Rs 490 million (US$ 10.93 million). It also performed well internationally and became India's fourth biggest Bollywood success of all time in the overseas market, earning over Rs 350 million (US$ 7.81 million). Her performance as "Poo" was well-received by critics and earned her a Filmfare Best Supporting Actress nomination.
During 2002 and 2003, Kapoor experienced a slump in her career. She featured 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 many 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.
Turning point, 2004–2006
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 played a prostitute in Chameli opposite Rahul Bose. The film relates the story of a young prostitute who meets with a widowed investment banker and follows the development of their relationship as they share their devastating life experiences. Chameli received predominantly positive reviews and Kapoor's performance was generally well-received by critics, with the Indiatimes praising Kapoor's "intuitive brilliance" and stating that she had exceeded all expectations. However, another reviewer 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 performance garnered her the Filmfare Special Performance Award and marked a change in direction in her career as an actress. Kapoor 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 Zahira Sheikh, a key witness in Vadodara's Best Bakery case. The film 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 afterwards, she was cast for the first time as a villain in the thriller Fida (opposite Shahid Kapoor and Fardeen Khan). The film explores Internet theft and the Mumbai underworld. Although it failed commercially, Kapoor received 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 moderately successful thriller Aitraaz and Priyadarshan's comedy Hulchul, her first box office success since 2002. In 2005, she starred in the Dharmesh Darshan directed drama Bewafaa. Kapoor played the role of the Indo-Canadian Anjali, who marries her sister's husband after her death, but is unsatisfied with the ensuing married life and resumes a relationship with her previous boyfriend. The film received mostly negative reviews and Kapoor's performance 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 girl of her age. Later that year, she appeared in Priyadarshan's romantic drama Kyon Ki. The drama, set in a psychiatric hospital, 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 well-received by critics, with the BBC reporting, "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. While not a success in India, the film became the highest-grossing Bollywood film of 2005 in the United Kingdom. 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 well-received by critics and Kapoor's performance was critically acclaimed, earning her a fourth Filmfare Award and first Star Screen Award. Rediff.com concluded, "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." 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.
Recent work, 2007–present
In 2007, Kapoor starred opposite Shahid Kapoor in Imtiaz Ali's romantic comedy 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 Sikh girl with a strong zest for life. The film was received favourably by critics and became one of the year's most successful films, earning a domestic total of Rs 303 million (US$ 6.76 million). 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." Following Jab We Met, Kapoor featured alongside Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan, and Anil Kapoor in the action-thriller Tashan (2008). Though an indiaFM poll named it the most anticipated film of the year, Tashan eventually became a commercial and critical failure. Kapoor next provided her voice for the character of Laila, the love interest of a street dog named Romeo, in the Yash Raj Films and Walt Disney Pictures animated film Roadside Romeo. It was the second Bollywood film to receive a North American release by a Hollywood studio. In preparation for her role, Kapoor viewed several Hollywood animated films to analyse how actors delivered their dialogues. Kapoor was criticised for failing to promote the film as she ventured into other projects. Kapoor next starred in Rohit Shetty's comedy Golmaal Returns, the sequel to the 2006 film Golmaal. A part of an ensemble cast that included Ajay Devgan, Arshad Warsi, Tusshar Kapoor, Shreyas Talpade, Amrita Arora, Celina Jaitley, and Anjana Sukhani, Kapoor played a distrustful wife who believed her husband to be unfaithful. The film received a mixed reception from critics and Kapoor herself received mixed reviews. The Indian Express believed the screenplay was unoriginal, concluding, "There is nothing particularly new about a suspicious wife keeping tabs on her husband, and there is nothing particularly new in the way Kareena plays it." Golmaal Returns was nonetheless a major financial success, with revenues of over Rs 500 million (US$ 11.15 million) domestically. 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 Rs 650 million (US$ 14.5 million) worldwide, but was a critical failure. The Times of India wrote, "Kareena […] is a complete let-down. Despite her haute-coutured look, her micro minis, her pencil heels, she comes across as a completely unconvincing supermodel cum surgeon. It's a laboured, pouty attempt to accentuate the oomph, when actually the actress doesn't need to fake it". When asked about the criticism she garnered for the film, Kapoor remarked that "it is okay when critics do not like Kambakkht Ishq or Golmaal Returns; there are some films that are made purely for the audiences and they succeed there". She next starred in Prem Soni's directorial debut, Main Aurr Mrs Khanna, alongside Salman Khan and Sohail Khan. Kapoor featured as the protagonist, Raina Khanna, a woman who takes it upon herself to become the sole breadwinner of the family, and therefore struggles with her marriage. The film was critically and financially unsuccessful, with the Daily News and Analysis concluding that "Kapoor shows moments of the talent we associate with her, but then slumps with a silly drunken scene or by just smiling beatifically through emotional moments". Following Main Aurr Mrs Khanna, Kapoor's next release was Kurbaan, a thriller set against the backdrop of global terrorism. It was directed by Rensil D'Silva and written by Karan Johar, co-starring Saif Ali Khan, Vivek Oberoi, Om Puri and Kirron Kher. Kapoor played the role of Avantika Ahuja, a woman who is confined to house arrest after she finds out that her husband is a terrorist. While shooting for Kurbaan, which she described as "an emotionally draining experience", Kapoor stated that it was difficult for her to disconnect from the character of Avantika. She explained that "the kind of effect that it had on me, I really wanted to crash out once I reached home". Upon release, the film was received favourably by critics and Kapoor received her fourth Filmfare Best Actress nomination. Subhash K Jha noted, "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". Kapoor's final release of 2009 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 com true" and further stated that her journey as an actress was "finally complete". The movie was a major financial and critical success and became the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time, as well as Kapoor's highest-grossing movie, with a domestic total of Rs 2,024 million (US$ 45.14 million). It also did well internationally and grossed over Rs 700 million (US$ 15.61 million), the second biggest Bollywood success of all time in the overseas market. Rediff.com wrote, "Kareena Kapoor dazzles 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's around". During the 55th Filmfare Awards, Kapoor received another Best Actress nomination for her role and she later explained that the film was a welcome relief after the heavy role of Avantika Ahuja.
As of April 2010, Kapoor is currently working on Anubhav Sinha's science fiction Ra.One and Rohit Shetty's comedy Golmaal 3. She has completed filming for the Indian adaptation of the Hollywood film Stepmom (1998), which began principal photography in October 2009. Directed by Siddharth Malhotra, the film features Kapoor alongside Kajol and Arjun Rampal. The romantic comedy film Milenge Milenge is also scheduled to release on June 25, 2010, having been postponed since 2005.
During her years in the film industry, Kapoor has also devoted time to other commitments, from being involved with humanitarian causes to participating 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, along with other Bollywood stars, she 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 isolated 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 five million rupees from her winnings on Kaun Banega Crorepati (India's version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?) to St. Anthony's Old Age Home and Mount Mary's Bandra. In June 2008, Kapoor appeared on the game show Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hain? alongside boyfriend Saif Ali Khan, and donated half of her Rs. 5,000,000 (US$ 111,500) winnings to St. Anthony's Old Age Home, Bandra. In 2009, she once again donated her winnings of Rs. 1,000,000 (US$ 22,300) from 10 Ka Dum to St. Anthony's Old Age Home.
In 2004, Kapoor began dating actor Shahid Kapoor whom she eventually parted with during the filming of Jab We Met in 2007. In September 2007, speculation began to surface that she was dating Saif Ali Khan. On 18 October 2007, during Manish Malhotra's grand finale show at the Lakme Fashion Week, Khan confirmed their relationship to the media. Kapoor is very close to her family and has resided with her mother Babita for much of her life. Kapoor and her mother lived together in Lokhandwala and then at Park Avenue in Bandra, Mumbai for several years, and in 2008 Kapoor and her mother purchased adjacent flats in Khar, Mumbai designed by Akshay Kumar's wife Twinkle Khanna. Kapoor says she is an avid reader and swimmer in her leisure time. Kapoor's weight and diet have often been scrutinized by the media. In 2006, Kapoor declared that she was becoming a vegetarian to keep her weight in check. Kapoor has denied rumours that she is suffering from anorexia and has attributed her weight loss to yoga and a closely-monitored, balanced diet. When Kapoor lost weight and collapsed on set during the filming of Tashan in 2008, media speculation about her health was rampant. She dismissed the incident as a minor health scare.
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 previous years, in response to media speculation, Kapoor had developed a nonchalant relationship with the media and gained a reputation for discussing her professional or private life with the press with few reservations. 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, she appeared as a guest judge along with Priyanka Chopra on the singing talent contest Indian Idol 2. Several months later, Kapoor was chosen alongside actors Shahid Kapoor and Urmila Matondkar to model and walk the ramp for designer Manish Malhotra's fashion display, titled Freedom, during Fashion Week 2006. In 2007, Kapoor was among several Bollywood celebrities to perform at the opening ceremony of Kapil Dev’s Indian Cricket League (ICL) in Chandigarh. In June 2008, Kapoor modelled once again for Manish Malhotra's fashion display at the 2008 IIFA Fashion Extravaganza. Kapoor annually features in many polls in the media. In 2004, she 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 February 2007, Kapoor appeared fourth on Indiatimes list of "Top 10 Hottest Actresses of Bollywood", and later that year, the actress was ranked eighth by the U.K. magazine Eastern Eye as one of "Asia's Sexiest Women". Kapoor has also won numerous vegetarian online polls, being declared the female winner of PETA India's "Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrities" successively in 2007 and 2008. In March 2009, she became the only woman to be featured on Filmfare Magazine's annual "Power List", a list of the ten most powerful people of Bollywood.
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