Kareena Kapoor (pronounced [kəˈriːnaː kəˈpuːr]; born 21 September 1980), also known as Kareena Kapoor Khan, is an Indian actress who appears in Bollywood films. She is the daughter of actors Randhir Kapoor and Babita, and the younger sister of actress Karisma Kapoor. Noted for playing a variety of characters in a range of film genres—from contemporary romantic dramas to comedies—Kapoor has received six Filmfare Awards, and has established herself as a leading actress of Hindi cinema.
After making her acting debut in the 2000 war drama Refugee, Kapoor’s early years in the film industry were successful; she received a Filmfare nomination for Asoka (2001) and appeared in the melodrama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… the same year, one of her biggest commercial successes to date. This was followed by a series of commercial failures and repetitive roles, which garnered her negative reviews. She portrayed a sex worker in Chameli (2004), the turning point in her career, and starred in the critically acclaimed films Dev (2004) and Omkara (2006). Kapoor played the lead female role in the romantic comedy Jab We Met (2007, which earned her the Filmfare Award for Best Actress) and the dramedy 3 Idiots (2009, the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time).
Married to actor Saif Ali Khan, Kapoor’s off-screen life is the subject of widespread coverage in India. She is known in the Indian media for being publicly outspoken and assertive, and is recognised for her contributions to the film industry through her fashion style and film roles. In addition to film acting, Kapoor is a stage performer and has contributed as a co-author to three books: an autobiographical memoir, and two nutrition guides. She has also launched her own clothing line in association with the retail chain Globus.
Early life and background
Born into a film family in Mumbai on 21 September 1980, Kapoor (often informally referred to as ‘Bebo’) is the younger daughter of Randhir Kapoor and Babita (née Shivdasani); her elder sister Karisma is also an actress. She is the granddaughter of actor and filmmaker Raj 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 of Punjabi descent on her father’s side, and Sindhi on her mother’s side.
Describing herself as a “very naughty [and] spoilt child”, Kapoor’s exposure to films from a young age kindled her interest in acting; she was particularly inspired by the work of actors Nargis and Meena Kumari. Despite her family background, her father disapproved of women entering films 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 they separated. She was then raised by her mother, who worked several jobs to support her daughters until Karisma debuted as an actress in 1991. After living separately for several years, her parents reconciled in October 2007. Kapoor remarked “My father is also 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, followed by Welham Girls’ School in Dehradun. She attended the institution primarily to satisfy her mother, though later admitted to liking the experience. According to Kapoor, she was a good student and received first-class honours in all subjects except mathematics. After graduating from Welham she studied commerce for two years at Mithibai College in Vile Parle (Mumbai). 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, Mumbai; during this period, she developed a long-lasting passion for reading. However, after completing her first year, Kapoor decided to pursue her interest to become an actress. She began training at an acting institute in Mumbai mentored by Kishore Namit Kapoor, a member of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).
2000–03: Debut, breakthrough and setback
While training at the institute, Kapoor was cast as the female lead in Rakesh Roshan’s Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai (2000) opposite his son, Hrithik Roshan. Several days into the filming, however, she abandoned the project; Kapoor later explained that she had benefited by not doing the film since more prominence was given to the director’s son. She debuted later that year alongside Abhishek Bachchan in J. P. Dutta’s war drama Refugee. Set during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, the film centers on a man who illegally transports civilians back and forth across the border. Kapoor portrayed Naaz, a Bangladeshi girl who falls in love with Bachchan’s character 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 acting in her first film, Kapoor described it as “tough … [but] also a great learning experience”.Refugee was a moderate box-office success in India and Kapoor’s performance earned her the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut.
For her second release, Kapoor was paired opposite Tusshar Kapoor in Satish Kaushik’s box office success Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai (2001). A review in The Hindu noted that based on her first two films, she was “definitely the actress to watch out for”. She next starred in Subhash Ghai’s family drama Yaadein alongside Jackie Shroff and Hrithik Roshan, which received negative reviews and was unsuccessful at the box office. Later that year, she appeared in Santosh Sivan’s period epic Asoka opposite Shahrukh Khan. The film was selected for the Venice and 2001 Toronto International Film Festivals, and received generally positive reviews. Kapoor’s portrayal of Kaurwaki—a Kalingan princess, with whom Ashoka falls in love—received mixed reactions from critics; Rediff.com concluded that her presence in the film was primarily used for aesthetic purposes. She later received her first nomination for Best Actress at the 47th Filmfare Awards.
Kapoor’s final release of 2001 was Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… in which she featured part of an ensemble cast. Directed by Karan Johar, the melodrama became India’s second highest-grossing film of the year and Kapoor’s highest-grossing film to that point. It also became one of the biggest Bollywood success of all time in the overseas market, earning over INR1 billion (US$17 million) worldwide. Kapoor’s performance as Poo (a good-natured, superficial girl) was described by Taran Adarsh as “one of the main highlights of the film”, and earned her a Filmfare Best Supporting Actress nomination.
During 2002 and 2003, Kapoor experienced a setback in her career. All six films in which she starred —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 — were critically and commercially unsuccessful. Critics described Kapoor’s performances as unoriginal, repetitive, an uninspired;they expressed concern that she was becoming typecast. These negative reviews motivated her to accept more challenging roles.
2004–06: Critical acclaim
The year 2004 marked Kapoor’s work in a series of films that would bring her critical acclaim. Under the direction of Sudhir Mishra, Kapoor essayed the role of a golden-hearted prostitute in Chameli, a film relating the story of a young prostitute who meets with a widowed investment banker (played by Rahul Bose). When Kapoor was initially offered the film she refused it, explaining that she would be uncomfortable in the role. She relented when Mishra approached her for the second time, viewing it as an opportunity to demonstrate her acting range. Chameli was well received by critics and the film marked a significant turning point in her career, earning Kapoor the Filmfare Special Performance Award. Indiatimes praised her “intuitive brilliance” and stated that she had exceeded all expectations. Rediff.com, however, found her portrayal unconvincing and excessively stereotypical, describing her as “sounding more like a teenager playacting than a brash, hardened streetwalker” and comparing her mannerisms to a caricature.
Kapoor next co-starred in Mani Ratnam’s bilingual project Yuva alongside Ajay Devgan, 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 witty young woman). In a Times of India review 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”.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 and nominations for Best Actress at various award ceremonies. Taran Adarsh noted that she was “first-rate” and in particular noted her scene with Bachchan’s character.
Shortly afterwards, Kapoor was cast for the first time as a villain in the thriller Fida. Set against the backdrop of the Mumbai underworld, the film follows the story of an online heist in which her character, Neha Mehra, becomes involved. During the filming of Fida Kapoor began a romantic relationship with co-actor Shahid Kapoor, whom she later described as having “a major positive influence in my life”.Although the film was unsuccessful at the box office Kapoor received positive reviews for her performance, and some critics noted 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 were successful at the Indian box office. Following the success of her last two releases, she was cast as the protagonist of 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 to become a serious actress Kapoor was embodying a maturer, more-jaded character beyond her years in Bewafaa. She then starred in Priyadarshan’s romantic drama Kyon Ki, which was a box-office failure;however, Kapoor’s performance was generally well received by critics (with the BBC describing her as “a pure natural”).
In 2006, Kapoor appeared in three films. She first starred in the thriller 36 China Town, followed by the comedy Chup Chup Ke; both were moderately successful. She next portrayed the 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. It premiered at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival and was screened at the Cairo International Film Festival. Omkara was received positively by critics, and Kapoor’s portrayal earned her a fourth Filmfare Award and first Screen Award. In a 2010 retrospective of the “Top 80 Iconic Performances” of Hindi cinema, Filmfare wrote that she was “brilliant” and praised her ability to “effortless[ly]” convey the various emotions her character went through. Kapoor considered her role in Omkara as a “new benchmark” in her career, and compared her portrayal of Dolly with her own evolving maturity as a woman.
Following Omkara, Kapoor took a short break from acting, 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.”
2007–11: Jab We Met and commercial success
Kapoor returned to film as the female protagonist Geet Dhillon, a vivacious Sikh girl with a 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 successful at the box office with gross earnings of INR302.5 million (US$5.2 million).Kapoor won several awards for her performance, including her second Screen Award and the Filmfare Award for Best Actress.Rajeev Masand of 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. When asked by Mumbai Mirror, she stated “I hold him in utmost regard, and I hope one day we could be good friends. He is a great guy.”
The following year, Kapoor co-starred with Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan and Anil Kapoor in Vijay Krishna Acharya’s action-thriller Tashan. Although a poll (conducted by Bollywood Hungama) named it the most anticipated release of the year,the film was a commercial and critical failure.She 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. She then appeared in Rohit Shetty’s comedy Golmaal Returns, the sequel to the 2006 film Golmaal: Fun Unlimited. Part of an ensemble cast which included Ajay Devgan, Arshad Warsi and Tusshar Kapoor, Kapoor played a mistrustful wife who believed her husband was unfaithful. The film had an ambivalent reception from critics, and Kapoor received mixed reviews. The Indian Express believed the screenplay was derivative, 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 a financial success with global revenues of INR792.5 million (US$14 million).
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, it was the first Indian film to be shot at Universal Studios and featured cameo appearances by Hollywood actors. The film was poorly received by critics but became an economic success, earning over INR840 million (US$14 million) worldwide; a review in The Times of India described Kapoor’s performance as “a complete let-down” and “unconvincing”. She next played the leading lady 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 as Avantika Ahuja, a woman who is confined to house arrest after discovering that her husband is a terrorist. Describing the film as “an emotionally draining experience”, Kapoor explained that it was difficult to disconnect from her character. The film was critically praised, 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.”
Kapoor’s 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 played Pia (a medical student and Khan’s love interest). The film received critical acclaim and emerged as the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time, grossing INR2,025.7 million (US$35 million) in India. It also did well internationally, earning over INR1.08 billion (US$19 million), the biggest Bollywood success ever in the overseas market. The Deccan Herald opined that Kapoor “brings a dollop of sunshine and feminine grace to an otherwise masculine tale. She is so spunky and spontaneous you wish there was room for more of her.” During the 55th Filmfare Awards, Kapoor received another Best Actress nomination for her role.
In 2010, Kapoor appeared in the romantic comedy Milenge Milenge, a production delayed since 2005. The feature garnered negative reviews and poor box-office returns. Kapoor’s role was small, and not well received.She next took a supporting role as career-oriented Shreya Arora in We Are Family, adapted from the 1998 Hollywood film Stepmom. Reaction to the film was lukewarm, but Kapoor’s performance drew positive reviews and ultimately won her the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.Priyanka Roy of The Telegraph praised Kapoor for “breath[ing] life and a new-found maturity into what is largely a uni-dimensional character”.At the end of the year, she reunited with director Rohit Shetty for Golmaal 3, a sequel to Golmaal Returns. Like its predecessor, the film received mixed reviews though emerged as the most successful entry in the Golmaal series, earning more than INR1 billion (US$17 million) domestically.For her portrayal of the tomboy Daboo, Kapoor received Best Actress nominations at various award ceremonies including Filmfare.
Kapoor had further success in 2011 as the love interest of Salman Khan’s character in the romantic drama Bodyguard, a remake of the 2010 Malayalam film of the same name. The film was not well received by critics, though became a financial success, with a domestic total of INR1,409.5 million (US$24 million)—India’s highest-earning film of the year. A review in Mint dismissed Kapoor’s role as the “sacrificial, ornamental [and] submissive female”;Mid Day referred to her as “bright”, arguing that she “actually manages to bring her caricature of a role alive”.She next appeared in Anubhav Sinha’s science fiction film Ra.One with Shahrukh Khan. The film, employing special effects previously unused in Bollywood, became the most expensive Hindi film ever produced. Despite garnering mixed reviews, Ra.One became one of the biggest earners of the year with a worldwide total of over INR2 billion (US$34 million), and Kapoor’s fourth major commercial success in three years.
2012–present: Marriage and recent work
The following year, Kapoor played the role of a carefree young woman, Riana Braganza, in Shakun Batra’s directorial debut Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (2012) with Imran Khan. Produced by Dharma Productions, the romantic comedy is set in Las Vegas and tells the story of two strangers who get married one night after getting drunk. In an interview with The Times of India, Kapoor explained that she was drawn to her character’s qualities: “Riana knows what she is doing. Even though she does not have a house or a job, she is a positive person […] very similar to the way I am.” The film received positive reviews and was an economic success, grossing a total of INR530 million (US$9.1 million) in India and abroad. The Hollywood Reporter found her “endearingly natural”; Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com asserted that “after doing ornamental roles in films like Bodyguard and Ra.One, it is nice to see the spunky actress in her element again since Jab We Met. Though vivacious, her Riana isn’t a child-woman like Geet but a free-spirited, unflappable adult armed with plucky impulses and scrumptious smile that helps Rahul come-of-age and Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu worth a helping.” Her next appearance was in Agent Vinod, an espionage thriller directed by Sriram Raghavan. Kapoor was enthusiastic about the project, but it met with a tepid response and she was described as miscast. When asked why she had taken the role, Kapoor described it as an opportunity to attempt something she had never done before.
For her next feature, Kapoor was cast as the protagonist of Madhur Bhandarkar’s Heroine, a drama revolving around the Bollywood film industry. Originally the first choice for the role, Kapoor was hesitant to take on the project when Bhandarkar approached her with the film’s initial concept.With reservations about the criticism her character might evoke, she was replaced by Aishwarya Rai. Days after production began, Rai left the film (due to her pregnancy) and Bhandarkar re-approached Kapoor with the film. When the director reinforced his faith in her, she agreed to do the film after receiving the completed script.Kapoor (who described her character of Mahi Arora—a fading star—as “bipolar and schizophrenic”) refrained from taking on any other projects, since she found Heroine “very aggressive and tiring”. Bollywood Hungama observed it as her best work to date noting that “[t]hough her character is inconsistent […] Kareena furnishes the heroine’s character with a rare vulnerability and an exceptional inner life.” She later received Best Actress nominations at the annual Apsara, Filmfare, Screen and Stardust Award ceremonies.
Following the release of Heroine, Kapoor married actor Saif Ali Khan on 16 October 2012. Described as India’s “wedding and social event of the year” in Rupa Subramanya’s blog at The Wall Street Journal,the wedding consisted of a five-day celebration period beginning with a pre-wedding bash at Kapoor’s residence followed by a registered marriage in the presence of family and close friends. A reception was later held at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel in Mumbai and the Lutyens Bungalow Zone in Delhi.
At the end of the year, she co-starred alongside Aamir Khan and Rani Mukerji as the “tantalisingly seductive prostitute”Rosie, in Reema Kagti’s crime mystery Talaash: The Answer Lies Within. Set against the backdrop of Mumbai’s red-light districts, it follows the travails of its personnel and principal, Inspector Surjan Singh Shekhawat (Khan) who is assigned the duty of solving a mysterious car accident. The film generated predominantly positive reviews with Kapoor being praised in particular. The Telegraph described her performance as “naughty [and] nonchalan[t],” played with “an unseen mix of oomph and emotion that becomes the [film’s] centrepiece”.Talaash eventually emerged as a financial success with global revenues of INR1.74 billion (US$30 million).
In February 2013, Kapoor commenced filming for two projects: Prakash Jha’s political drama Satyagraha and Punit Malhotra’s romantic comedy Gori Tere Pyaar Mein.
Kareena Kapoor performing dance on a stage, alongside a group of performers
Kapoor performing at Temptation Reloaded 2008
Kapoor has participated in several stage shows and world tours since 2002. Her first concert tour (Heartthrobs: Live in Concert (2002) with Hrithik Roshan, Karisma Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Aftab Shivdasani) was successful in the United States and Canada. At the end of that year, she performed with several other Bollywood stars at Kings Park Stadium in Durban, South Africa in the show Now or Never. Four years later, Kapoor took part with six other Bollywood celebrities in the Rockstars Concert world tour. The concert was staged in 19 cities across the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, and was a success. In 2008 Kapoor performed in Shahrukh Khan’s Temptation Reloaded 2008, a series of concerts in a number of countries. The show (which also featured Arjun Rampal, Katrina Kaif, Ganesh Hegde, Javed Ali and Anusha Dandekar) debuted at the Ahoy Rotterdam venue in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Several months later she again joined Khan, Rampal and Kaif to perform for an audience of 15,000 at Dubai’s Festival City Arena.
During her years in the film industry, Kapoor has been involved with various philanthropic endeavours. In November 2003 she performed at a fundraiser for the World Youth Peace Summit. In 2005, she and other Bollywood stars participated in a concert to raise money for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. Later that year, she visited the desert heartland of Rajasthan to boost morale of jawan (infantry) troops in a special Holi weekend episode of the NDTV show, Jai Jawan. The programme consists of entertainers who visit Indian troops in isolated regions (with an NDTV crew). During her 2010 appearance on the NDTV Greenathon, Kapoor adopted the village of Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh to provide it with electricity.Kapoor later participated in UNESCO and FIFA’s international campaign, 1GOAL Education for All.In March 2011 Kapoor was appointed ambassador for the Shakti Campaign, a project launched by the NDTV television network to combat violence against women in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.
Clothing line and publication
In August 2007, Kapoor was appointed spokesperson for Globus in a five-year contract.In association with the retail chain, she became the first Indian actress to launch her own line of clothing. Her collection made its debut several months later in stores across India, and was well received. Following the end of her contract with Globus, Kapoor expressed a desire to work with a design house to release her clothing line internationally, but later explained that those plans were on hold.
In 2009, Kapoor collaborated with nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar on Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight, a book which focused on the principles of healthy eating habits. Published by Random House Publications, the book was well received by critics, and sold 10,000 copies within its first twenty days. A follow-up titled, Women and The Weight Loss Tamasha, was released in January 2011. It addressed the weight loss concerns and eating habits of women in various parts of their life, and featured Kapoor in a voice-over for the audiobook. The following year, she released her autobiographical memoir: The Style Diary of a Bollywood Diva (2012). Co-authored alongside Rochelle Pinto, it became the first book to be launched under the Shobhaa De imprint of Penguin Books—a set of series that included celebrity memoirs, guides and biographies. In a review published by Mint, Shefalee Vasudev criticised Kapoor’s writing style as “too-breezy” but further stated that it is “a well-produced book, reproducing chirpy little post-it notes and diet charts, punctuated with Bebo’s stunning pictures from her private albums to fashion magazine covers.”
Public image and character
Known for her nonchalant relationship with the media, Kapoor has gained a reputation for discussing her private life with no reservations. As a child she regularly attended award ceremonies and events with her family, and would also accompany Karisma on-set during filming. In an interview with Filmfare, she explained that growing up in a film family helped her develop a sense of professionalism and dedication towards her craft. Kapoor’s private life has been the subject of media attention in India, with frequent press coverage of her weight and relationship with actor Saif Ali Khan. The couple—dubbed “Saifeena” by the entertainment media—has been one of the country’s most-reported celebrity stories since 2007.
While a segment of the press has described Kapoor as friendly and extremely close to her family, others have criticized her for being arrogant and vain—an image she gained in the wake of her superficial character, Poo, in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… (2001). She subsequently featured in films portraying similar characters, and this further established her off- and on-screen personae. Before the release of Chameli (2004) (in which she played a sex worker), Kapoor stated that “there is a certain image that people identify you with [and] [i]t always follows you whichever role you play. I am trying to transgress this image and become more screen-friendly than image-friendly.” Chameli helped Kapoor reinvent her on-screen persona, and she later explained that her honesty and openness was often perceived by the media as arrogance.
Kapoor is also known for her assertive and moody nature, and her outspoken views and independence have been singled out for making major contributions to her career; they “add to her superstar aura”.In an early interview, she confessed to being an “introvert, yet […] extremely candid and blunt”, reasoning: “Total faith and complete belief in myself is my attitude towards life, films and virtually everything else. I am all about doing what I feel is right. It is not easy to pin me down as I can be a bundle of contradictions.” Journalist Subhash K Jha explained that while this approach has sometimes been at the cost of professional opportunities, it “makes her such a favourite among the generation that believes in self regard being the highest form of creativity […] She lives for the moment and crams all her intensity into it, not sparing a single thought for what is gone and what is waiting around the corner.” Meanwhile, Anu Ahuja suggested that Kapoor’s demeanour is an act; she is “cold and unapproachable so that no one will act funny with her”.
Today, Kapoor is considered as one of the most popular Bollywood celebrities in India. Her look and performances have established her as a style icon for young women. In a 2009 poll conducted by the newspaper Daily News and Analysis Kapoor was voted one of India’s most popular icons; with her partner Saif Ali Khan, she was listed amongst the top celebrity endorsers for brands and products worldwide. She became the only Indian actress to be featured on CNNGo’s list of “Who Mattered Most in India”,and was later selected by Verve for its list of the country’s most powerful women from 2008 to 2010. In June 2010 Kapoor was described as “India’s Most Beautiful Woman” by People; Eastern Eye and Maxim named her as “Asia’s Sexiest Woman” and “India’s Hottest Woman” in 2011 and 2012 respectively. The following year, she ranked seventh on Forbes’ list of India’s biggest entertainersand was later selected by India Today for its list of the country’s most influential women
Performances: technique and analysis
According to media reports, Kapoor relies on her instincts and spontaneity as an actor. She is known to commit heavily to each role, and refrains from rehearsing for a project. Commenting on this, director Rajkumar Hirani said “I usually have a habit of conducting rehearsals for my actors, but she insisted on not having them as it would affect her spontaneity. She really surprised me with a couple of emotional scenes which we canned in just one take.” Karan Johar described Kapoor as a “natural”, explaining that “she has no craft, grammar or process attached to her acting […] It is a great sense of cinema that can keep her going.” According to Rensil D’Silva (who directed her in Kurbaan), “Kareena [..] is instinctive and has emotional intelligence. She absorbs the situation and performs accordingly. Discussing the scene, in fact, harms her.”
While discussing her career highlights in a 2010 article, Rediff.com noted: “[E]ven though a lot of her starring roles have been forgettable, [a] look at her filmography now, however, would show a more thoughtful selection of roles […] playing to her strengths.” Her portrayal of a series of superficial characters at the start of her career were criticized; film historian Gyan Prakash explained that these roles “tended to infantilise her, packaging her as daddy’s little girl, all bubble and no fizz”.Critics noted Chameli (2004) as her coming of age, claiming that “a new actor in her was discovered”.Following her portrayal of a variety of character types in Chameli, Dev (2004), Omkara (2006) and Jab We Met (2007), Kapoor was noted for her versatility. In 2010, Filmfare Magazine included two of her performances—from Omkara and Jab We Met—in its list of “80 Iconic Performances”. India Today labelled her “the most versatile female lead in the industry”, noting that she “play[s] her roles with trademark spunk”.
Manjula Sen of The Telegraph wrote that although she has “the worst success ratio among her contemporaries”, it does not affect her marketability. Sen further explained that Kapoor’s strength lies in her being versatile; she is “effortlessly honest in her performances. It is a candour that spills over in her personal conduct.” Writing for CNN-IBN, Rituparna Chatterjee spoke of her transformation to date: “[A]fter 40 films and 10 years of fighting off competition from some of the most versatile actors of her generation, Kareena has matured into a bankable actor reinventing herself with surprising ease.” In 2004, Kapoor placed third on Rediff’s list of “Top Bollywood Female Stars”.She was later ranked seventh and fifth in 2005 and 2006, respectively, and returned to third place in 2007. In January 2011, Kapoor placed fourth on Rediff’s list of “Top 10 Actresses of 2000–2010”.