Kajol Actress Biography
Kajol turned down an offer from Karan Johar to star in the drama Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna in 2006, as she did not want to leave her daughter for a 90-day schedule in New York City. She preferred to portray Zoona Ali Beg, a blind Kashmiri who unwittingly falls in love with a terrorist (Aamir Khan), in Kunal Kohli’s romantic thriller Fanaa. It marked her return to the cinema since 2001, but she refused to term it as her comeback film, saying, “I never retired. I had just taken a break.” Upon release, the film was a financial success, grossing ₹1 billion (US$14 million) against its ₹220 million (US$3.1 million) budget. Both the film and Kajol’s performance were received well, with reviewer Sudhish Kamath calling her the “only reason to watch the film” and adding, “Kajol performs like she never took a break from celluloid and peps up the film with her presence.” Deepa Gahlot took note of Kajol’s conviction in the part, which made up for the film’s flaws. Fanaa fetched Kajol a fourth Filmfare Award and second Zee Cine Award in the Best Actress category.
In 1999, following the launch of Ajay Devgn’s production company, Devgan Films (renamed as Devgn Entertainment and Software Ltd.), Kajol worked towards building a website. In 2000, she launched online portal Cineexplore for the company. She explained that ” takes into account every aspect of film-making”, further adding, “My role is that of a supervisor. I just have to overlook the proceedings. We have our hands in everything. We are making software for TV and music videos.” Devgn established another production company Ajay Devgn FFilms in 2009. Kajol, however, clarified that she wasn’t involved in the production aspect of the company, but participated in supervising and “overseeing everything”. She was named a part-time member of Prasar Bharati in 2016.
Kajol has received six Filmfare Awards, including five Best Actress for Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… (2001), Fanaa (2006) and My Name Is Khan (2010), and a Best Villain (also known as Best Performance in a Negative Role) for Gupt: The Hidden Truth (1997).
Anees Bazmee’s romantic comedy Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha, a remake of the 1995 American film French Kiss, followed. She played the comic role of Sanjana, a clumsy woman who travels from Paris to India in search of her philandering fiancé, but falls for another man (Ajay Devgn). The film emerged as a hit, and fetched Kajol a second Best Actress nomination at Filmfare that year. Khalid Mohamed referred to her as “the show’s super-saving grace. Bubbly and spontaneous as ever, hers is a perfectly balanced performance, rescuing even the loudest scenes from going over the top.”
Kajol made her debut in playback singing with two songs—”Mere Haath Mein” and “Chanda Chamke”—from Fanaa (2006). She worked as a dubber for the Hindi versions of S. S. Rajamouli’s Telugu-language fantasy film Eega and the computer-animated superhero film Incredibles 2 (a sequel to the 2004 film The Incredibles) in 2012 and 2018, respectively; she provided voiceover to the opening credits of Eega and the character Helen Parr in Incredibles 2. In 2019, she wrote the foreword of an biography on Sridevi, titled Sridevi: The Eternal Screen Goddess.
Kajol was next cast opposite Shah Rukh Khan in My Name Is Khan (2010), based on the discrimination faced by American Muslims after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was the first Indian film to be distributed by Fox Star Studios. The film was released after facing opposition from right-wing political party Shiv Sena. It opened to mixed-to-positive reviews, and emerged as an international success with a gross of ₹2 billion (US$28 million). My Name Is Khan was screened at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, and the Rome Film Festival. Kajol’s portrayal of Mandira, a Hindu single mother who marries a Muslim man with Asperger syndrome—which featured her in American career woman look—was praised by both Indian and overseas critics. Rajeev Masand saw Kajol was “immensely likeable … using her eyes to convey volumes, topping the performance off with a powerful breakdown scene”; Los Angeles Times found her to be “highly appealing and equal to the demand of her emotion-charged role”. For the film, Kajol won her fifth Best Actress award at Filmfare, thereby sharing the record with her late aunt, Nutan. Additionally, she was nominated for the Screen Award for Best Actress, the Stardust Award for Best Actress in a Drama and the Zee Cine Award for Best Actor – Female.
Later that year, Kajol played a leading role in Karan Johar’s family drama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…, which was the top-grossing Indian production of all-time in the overseas market. Cast alongside an ensemble of Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor, she played Anjali Sharma, a young Punjabi woman from Chandni Chowk area who falls for a wealthy man; she identified the character was “loud and fun loving, [which are] very much like me” and found similarities between it and Hema Malini’s role in the action-adventure Sholay (1975). The role required Kajol to speak in Punjabi, a language she was not fluent in, and although she struggled at first to master it, she achieved the pronunciation and diction with the help of producer Yash Johar and some of the crew members. Her comic-dramatic performance met with mixed critical attention and won her third Filmfare Award in the Best Actress category. Taran Adarsh labelled her as “first-rate” and predicted that her “Punjabi dialect will win her immense praise”. The Hindu wrote, “Kajol steals the thunder from under very high noses indeed. With her precise timing and subtle lingering expression, she is a delight all the way.”
Kajol began dating actor Ajay Devgn in 1994, while filming Gundaraj. Members of the media, however, labelled them as an “unlikely pair” due to their contrasting personalities. Devgn explained their relationship by saying, “We never resorted to the usual ‘I love you’ routine. A proposal never happened. We grew with each other. Marriage was never discussed, but it was always imminent”. They couple married on 24 February 1999 in a traditional Maharashtrian ceremony at Devgn’s house. The wedding was subject to wide media scrutiny, as certain members of the media criticised Kajol’s decision to settle down at the “peak of her career”. Kajol, however, maintained that she would not quit films, but would cut down on the amount of work that she did.
In the same year, Kajol was the protagonist in Siddharth Malhotra’s moderately successful family film We Are Family (an official adaptation of the 1998 American drama Stepmom), alongside Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Rampal. Kajol played Maya, a character she identified with for being a “control freak” in chase of perfection; she found it largely different from the one played by Susan Sarandon in the original. Malhotra modelled Maya in part after his grandmother, actress Bina Rai. Mayank Shekhar singled out Kajol’s performance as “stunning”, and Rachel Saltz of The New York Times commented that “her naturalism gives the movie a genuine emotional kick”. Kajol’s next release that year, Toonpur Ka Super Hero featured her as Priya Kumar, a woman stuck in a cartoon world. Kajol spoke of the challenge and difficulty dubbing for the film. Dubbed the first Hindi live-action animated film before release, the film polarised critics and failed to attract an audience. Similarly, Kajol’s role was dismissed as not having provided her with scope to perform. She followed it with a second hiatus upon the birth of her son.
In addition to acting in films, Kajol is a social activist and noted for her work with widows and children. She has featured as a talent judge for the reality show Rock-N-Roll Family in 2008, and holds a managerial position at Devgn Entertainment and Software Ltd.. Kajol has been married to actor Ajay Devgn, with whom she has two children, since 1999.
Kajol has been actively involved in several philanthropic endeavours related to women and children. According to her, “every child deserves education”, as “education is the basis of society”. She is involved with Shiksha, a non-governmental organisation that works in the field of children’s education, and in 2009, she launched a campaign to support the cause. In 2011, Kajol participated in a fashion show organised by the Cancer Patients Aid Association, to generate funds for the organisation. She is the international goodwill ambassador and patron of The Loomba Trust (a charity organisation devoted to supporting widows and their children around the world, particularly in India). On the issue, she said: “It’s sad to know that widows are still considered a blight in our society. There are widows who are still not marriageable. I strongly feel for them and take it as a social responsibility to eradicate the issue.” In 2012, Kajol was appointed as the brand ambassador of Pratham, a charity organization for children, and she featured in a short film on education and literacy, with the Hanuman Basti Primary School’s students in Mumbai, to support it. Also that year, she made a documentary about protection of the girl child as a part of Government of Maharashtra’s campaign “Save the Girl Child”. For her contribution in the field of social service, Kajol was awarded the Karmaveer Puraskar.
Kajol describes herself as being “extremely mischievous” as a child. She added that she was very stubborn and impulsive from a very young age. Her parents separated when she was young; but Tanuja said that Kajol was not affected by the split as “we never argued in front of “. Kajol was looked after by her maternal grandmother, who “never let me feel that my mother was away and working”. According to Kajol, her mother inculcated a sense of independence in her at a very young age. Growing up between two separate cultures, she inherited her “Maharashtrian pragmatism” from her mother and her “Bengali temperament” from her father.
Kajol’s next project was Renuka Shahane’s social drama Tribhanga (2021), which marked her first collaboration with Netflix. Set in Mumbai, it revolved around three women (Kajol, Mithila Palkar and Tanvi Azmi) from different generations and Kajol appeared as the Odissi dancer Anuradha Apte. She found little resemblance between herself and her “over-the-top” character. The film received generally positive reviews; Saibal Chatterjee from NDTV praised Kajol for “provid the frisson that the understated Tribhanga needs to keep trundling along at an even pace”. Stutee Ghosh of The Quint called both Azmi and Kajol “the strongest performers have a stunning hold and it’s difficult to focus on anyone else when they are in the frame”.
Kajol was born in Bombay (present-day Mumbai) on 5 August 1974. Her mother, Tanuja, is an actress, while her father Shomu Mukherjee—who died in 2008 after suffering cardiac arrest—was a film director and producer. During an interview in 2019, she stated that she speaks English, Hindi and Marathi, and “can understand Bengali”. Her younger sister, Tanishaa, is also an actress. Her maternal aunt was actress Nutan and her maternal grandmother, Shobhna Samarth, and great-grandmother, Rattan Bai, were both involved in Hindi cinema. Her paternal uncles, Joy Mukherjee and Deb Mukherjee, are film producers, while her paternal and maternal grandfathers, Sashadhar Mukherjee and Kumarsen Samarth, respectively, were filmmakers. Kajol’s cousins Rani Mukerji, Sharbani Mukherjee and Mohnish Behl are also Bollywood actors; whereas Ayan Mukerji is a director.
Kajol was educated at a boarding school named, St. Joseph’s Convent School, Panchgani. Apart from her studies, she participated in extra-curricular activities, such as dancing. It was in school that she began to form an active interest in reading fiction, as it helped her “through the bad moments” in her life. In the early 1990s, Tanuja tried to direct a film to launched her as an actress. However, the project was shelved after a few days of shooting. At the age of sixteen, Kajol began work on Rahul Rawail’s Bekhudi, which according to her was a “big dose of luck”; she was cast by him when she visit the studio of photographer Gautam Rajadhyaksha, who also wrote the film’s screenplay. She was initially intended to return to school after shooting for the film during her two-months summer vacation, but she eventually dropped out to pursue a full-time career in film—though she later regretted the decision: “… when I started working, I realised the importance of education. I realised what I should have done. According to me, it was my mistake.”
As of March 2021 , Kajol has three future projects including the biopic Sasi Lalitha, in which she play the titular character, Velaiilla Pattadhari 3, a sequel to Velaiilla Pattadhari 2, and Rajkumar Hirani’s untitled satirical comedy, where she will reunites with Shah Rukh Khan.
Following a leading role in the reincarnation-based film Hameshaa, Kajol replaced Madhuri Dixit to play the lead opposite Prabhu Deva and Arvind Swamy in Rajiv Menon’s Tamil-language romantic musical Minsara Kanavu. Kajol revealed that she found dancing alongside Deva (himself a dance choreographer) difficult and it “took me 20 retakes and 30 rehearsals” to get the steps right. She played Priya Amalraj, a convent student who aspires to be a nun, and her voice was dubbed by actress Revathi. The Indian Express reviewed: “Kajol is full of beans and fits into her character with commendable ease. Hers is perhaps one of the most expressive faces of the present.” While the original version was embraced by audiences, the Hindi-dubbed version of the film (titled Sapnay) was commercially failed. Her next release was Indra Kumar’s comedy-drama Ishq alongside Aamir Khan, Juhi Chawla and Ajay Devgn. Upon release, the film emerged as a commercial success, with critical praise directed to the performances of the four leads.
In 2002, Kajol was presented with the Rajiv Gandhi Awards by the Mumbai Pradesh Youth Congress. She was one of the four Bollywood actors, alongside Priyanka Chopra, Hrithik Roshan and Shah Rukh Khan, whose miniature dolls were launched in the United Kingdom, under the name of “Bollywood Legends” in 2006. Kajol and Khan also became the first Indian actors to be invited by NASDAQ to open the NYSE American to promote My Name Is Khan (2010). In the next year, the Government of India honoured her with the Padma Shri for her contribution to Indian cinema. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis honoured her with the Swabhimani Mumbaikar Awards. Kajol unveiled her wax statue at London’s Madame Tussauds museum in 2018.
In 1998, Kajol reinforced her status as a leading actress of Hindi cinema by featuring in the three highest-grossing productions of the year, including Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya, Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai; all of which were nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Film, with the lattermost winning the award. Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya—where she played a naïve village girl—released first and won her positive feedback. Kajol next played the dual roles of twin sisters, Sonia and Naina, in Dushman, a psychological thriller directed by Tanuja Chandra and written by Mahesh Bhatt. Revolving around Naina’s quest to avenge the rape and murder of her twin sister, the film saw Kajol in one of her best-reviewed performances. Having initially refused the offer due to her lack of comfort shooting the rape scene, she finally accepted it on the condition that a body-double be used in it. The film saw Kajol in one of her best-reviewed performances, which won her the Screen Award for Best Actress in addition to a Filmfare nomination. Suparn Verma of Rediff.com noted her for being in “superb form” in both roles.
In 2017, Kajol starred opposite Dhanush in Velaiilla Pattadhari 2, a sequel to the 2014 masala film Velaiilla Pattadhari and her second Tamil-language film after Minsara Kanavu. She was cast as Vasundhara Parameshwar, the chairwoman of the construction company Vasundhara Constructions (modelled after Ramya Krishnan’s role in the 1999 drama Padayappa). Kajol was somewhat apprehensive about doing the film but eventually accepted the role due to her faith in Dhanush and director Soundarya Rajinikanth, citing them for breaking the “myths in my head about speaking and acting in another language”. Velaiilla Pattadhari 2 opened to a negative critical reception but succeeded financially. Anupama Subramanian, reviewing the film for Deccan Chronicle, wrote that Kajol “looks elegant and suits the role of an arrogant, multimillionaire with loads of attitude”, with Film Companion adding that her role gave the film “a new flavour”.
The daughter of Tanuja and Shomu Mukherjee, Kajol made her acting debut with Bekhudi (1992), while still in school. She subsequently quit her studies, and had her first commercial success with Baazigar (1993), opposite Shah Rukh Khan. Following a breakthrough role in the romance Yeh Dillagi (1994), she featured with Khan in several blockbusters, including Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), both of which gained her wide public recognition and two Filmfare Awards in the Best Actress category. Although her career was further established during this period by financially profitable family dramas, it was her portrayal of a psychopath killer in Gupt: The Hidden Truth (1997) and an avenger in Dushman (1998) that earned her greater critical appreciation.
Kajol listed in Box Office India’s “Top Actresses” for five consecutive years (1995–1999), topping the list in 1998. In 2001 and 2006, following the successes of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… and Fanaa, respectively, Kajol featured in Rediff.com’s annual “Top Bollywood Actresses” listing. Rediff.com also featured her in other lists: “Best Bollywood Actresses Ever”, “Best Dressed Woman” and “Top 10 Actresses of 2000–2010”. Filmfare included two of her performances—from Dushman and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (both 1998)—in its 2010 list of “80 Iconic Performances”. She peaked the fifth position as “the all-time favorite female star” in a 2008 poll conducted by Outlook. In 2012, Kajol was placed at the fourth position by NDTV in the listing of “The Most Popular Actress of All Time”, behind Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi and Meena Kumari, and Yahoo! featured her as “one of the ten most iconic beauties of Hindi cinema”. Kajol was included on Forbes India’s “Celebrity 100”, a list based on the income and popularity of India’s celebrities, in 2012, 2013 and 2017.
Kajol’s final release of 1995 was Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, where Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol starred as Raj Malhotra and Simran Singh, non-resident Indians from London who fall in love during a trip across Europe and later reunite in India to persuade her conservative father to call off her upcoming arranged marriage. Chopra said Kajol was “the natural choice” for the part, and she spoke of her attachment to the project and her full emotional involvement with the character of Simran. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge opened in October and emerged as the year’s most popular film and one of the most successful films of all-time in India. Ever since its release, it has been continuously running in Mumbai and, having surpassed 1000 weeks of screening as of 2014, became the longest-running Indian film of all-time. Equally popular with critics, the film earned ten Filmfare Awards, including the first Best Actress award for Kajol. It has been voted one of the best films ever made in polls by the British Film Institute, among others. In a retrospective review by Rediff.com, Raja Sen thought that Kajol was “wisely picked … to play Simran, the real-as-life actress bringing warmth and credulity to the initially prudish and reluctant Simran.” 1996 saw her in only one film—Vikram Bhatt’s Bambai Ka Babu—opposite Saif Ali Khan and Atul Agnihotri. The film was a financial disaster, leading NDTV to conclude a “cold year” for Kajol.
The Telegraph declared 2020 as a “big year” for Kajol, and she it marked a phase when “character matters more than length of the role”. Her first release of the year was the period drama Tanhaji, co-starring Ajay Devgn and Saif Ali Khan. Based on the life of Tanaji Malusare (the military leader of Maratha Empire), it went on to become the highest-grossing film of the year, earning ₹3.67 billion (US$51 million). She played Tanhaji’s wife Savitribai Malusare, calling it a strong character which she found similar to herself. To prepare for the part, she—along with costume designer Nachiket Barve and director Om Raut—did some historical research. Critics were appreciative of her turn despite its limited screen time. Vinayak Chakravorty found her “a delight to watch as ever”; Daily News and Analysis’ Riddhima Kanetkar reported that she “outshines everyone she shares screen space with”. Later in the year, she was seen in her first short film, Devi, a Priyanka Banerjee-directed suspense revolving around nine women stuck in one room. Leading an ensemble cast, Kajol portrayed the character of Jyoti, a middle-aged woman which she found “vastly different from me in many ways”. It was released on YouTube and reviewed positively by critics, among whom Devansh Sharma of Firstpost noted Kajol for leading the diverse ensemble. Devi won the Best Film (Popular Choice) at the Filmfare Short Film Awards.
After shooting for Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… in 2001, which won her a third Filmfare Award, Kajol took a sabbatical from full-time acting and would continue working infrequently over the next two decades. Following a successful comeback with the romantic thriller Fanaa (2006), she played leading roles in such films as U Me Aur Hum (2008), We Are Family (2010), My Name Is Khan (2010), and Dilwale (2015). Her performances in Fanaa and My Name is Khan earned her two more Best Actress awards at Filmfare. Kajol’s highest-grossing release came with the period film Tanhaji in 2020.
After portraying leading roles in a series of family dramas, Kajol showed versatility as an actress with Gupt: The Hidden Truth (1997), and was subsequently noted in the media for her unconventional approach in selecting projects. Her acting style has been described as being “natural”. Rajiv Menon (director of the 1997 film Minsara Kanavu) believed that Kajol “represents the joie de vivre of the … 1990s”, adding, “There is an air of impatience about her, a don’t-bullshit-me attitude.” Magazine editor Khalid Mohammed described her as “a great packet of talent”. Filmmaker Karan Johar (a frequent collaborator of Kajol) said, “I would call ‘action’ on a shoot and expect a little atom bomb explosion on set every time Kajol was around because that is who she was. She kept us all on our toes.” In a 1998 article by India Today, critic and cultural theorist Ashish Rajadhyaksha observed, “She is now in the league of an actress around whom a script can be written and a film made.” According to The Hindu, “What Kajol abounds in is talent and a felicity for expression. Kajol does not act out her scenes and deliver her lines; she inhabits her characters.” Furthermore, unlike most of her contemporaries, Kajol has had a successful career post-marriage and motherhood.
Journalists speculated that a supporting role in Prakash Jha’s Dil Kya Kare would be “the acid test” for Kajol, as the drama was her first release after her marriage to Ajay Devgn in 1999. She played Nandita Rai, the other women in the life of Anant Kishore (Devgn). She explained that she accepted the role solely “because it had shades of grey. I would have probably refused the wife’s role. Because I felt it had nothing for me to do”. Upon release, the film met with largely negative reviews. Deccan Herald noted her for having played “the passive lover with finesse.” Commercially too, the film failed to do well and Kajol attributed it to her role. Her next release, the woman’s film Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain, on the other hand, performed well with critics and audiences. The film gave her an experience with “the stereotypical, sacrificing woman role”. Kajol received another Best Actress Filmfare nomination for her portrayal of Megha, an assistant of Anil Kapoor’s character. The film met with wide media coverage for being one of the few woman-centered films to attract viewers in Indian cinemas. Her final release of the year was the critically and commercially unsuccessful action Hote Hote Pyar Ho Gaya. A reviewer for Hindustan Times noted her chemistry with Jackie Shroff but wrote off the film.
Kajol worked intermittently through the rest of the decade. In 2007, she started filming for Rajkumar Santoshi’s unreleased mythology film Ramayana, based on the epic of the same name, where she played Sita. She described her husband’s directorial debut, U Me Aur Hum (2008), as a “very special film” for her. In it, she starred as Piya Thapar, a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Although the film underperformed commercially, she received positive reviews and received another Filmfare nomination for Best Actress for her performance. The Economic Times’ Gaurav Malini noted that Kajol’s “simmering pace and … recurring amnesiac spells, rather than getting repetitive, add compelling credibility to the story”. Her physical appearance, however, generated negative response from critics. In a review published by Outlook, Namrata Joshi called her “terribly contained”.
In 1997, Kajol’s portrayal of Isha Diwan, a psychopathic serial killer and obsessive lover, in Gupt: The Hidden Truth, proved to be a turning point in her career. She took the part to avoid typecasting, and explained that it was the “toughest role” of her career. Director Rajiv Rai was quoted as saying that he “tapped the versatile artistry in Kajol”, commending her for the “rare finnesse” she brought to the complex role. The suspense thriller, also starring Bobby Deol and Manisha Koirala, emerged as a mainstream success. India Today noted Kajol for outpacing her co-stars, and The Times of India wrote in 2016 that she was “probably the first to have broken her goody-two-shoes image”; Rediff.com included her performance in their listing of best villain performances. Kajol eventually became the first actress to be nominated for and win the Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Negative Role. In later years, Kajol found that her role has “something that was not me at all—that’s why I find this role memorable even now.”
Kajol Devgn (née Mukherjee; born 5 August 1974), known mononymously as Kajol, is an Indian film actress. She has been described in the media as one of the most successful actresses in the history of Hindi cinema, and is the recipient of numerous accolades, including six Filmfare Awards, among which she holds the record for most Best Actress awards previously set by her aunt Nutan. In 2011, she was honoured with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour of the country, by the Government of India.
The following year, Kajol and her husband starred together in his home-production Raju Chacha. The children’s film, with a production cost of ₹300 million (US$4.2 million) was declared as among the most expensive Hindi films at the time. Dinesh Raheja wrote of the lack of imagination in the script, which affected the chemistry between Kajol and Devgn. In 2001, Rahul Rawail’s Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi saw her portray Tina and Sweety, twin sisters who are separated at birth. The film was poorly reviewed as was Kajol’s dual role which was dismissed as “a double bore”. Roshmila Bhattacharya of Screen defended Kajol’s presence, writing the film thrives on her “zest and zing”. Both Raju Chacha and Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi were flops at the box office, which Kajol professed left her frustated.
Film critic Sukanya Verma has described Kajol as a “contrasting personality”. She wrote, “Think Kajol, think emotions. Either she is the firebrand or the emotional sensitive type. And sometimes she is pure, wicked fun.” Initially termed by journalists as “an impulsive and impetuous brat”, Kajol has defied the stereotypical image of a Hindi film heroine in several ways. Journalist Kaveree Bamzai elaborated, “She hardly looks into the mirror, barely even glances at the set monitor, usually the crutch of every insecure actor, puts on make-up only under extreme duress, and … never watches her old movies.” Kajol has often been criticised in the media for “her lack of interest in maintaining her appearance by means of slimming, grooming, jewellery or fashion”. Fashion photographer Gautam Rajadhyaksha stated that she was “totally indifferent to hairstyles and clothes. They just drive her up the wall. She would be most happy if she were allowed to go for days in jeans, a white shirt and a scarf thrown on for colour.” Nonetheless, Filmfare labelled her as an “unconventional beauty”, adding: “Not one to abide by the trending norms, Kajol set her own rules in the ’90s, a time when individuality didn’t work for most heroines.”
In 1994, Kajol appeared in the melodrama Udhaar Ki Zindagi as the granddaughter of the characters played by Jeetendra and Moushumi Chatterjee. It failed to do well at the box office, however, Kajol was named the Best Actress (Hindi) by the Bengal Film Journalists’ Association. The film was an emotionally draining experience for Kajol, and she later maintained that it had affected her so deeply that after shooting ended, she was on the verge of a crisis. Consequently, seeking relief, she made a deliberate decision to sign up lighter films in which she would have roles of minimal importance and no intense dramatic efforts, including Hulchul, Gundaraj, and Karan Arjun—all released a year later. She subsequently gained wider public recognition for her role in Yeh Dillagi, a romantic drama produced by Yash Raj Films. Based on the 1953 American play Sabrina Fair, the film narrates the story of a chauffeur’s daughter who becomes a model and catches the interest of two brothers, the sons of her father’s employers (Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan). The success of Yeh Dillagi proved to be a breakthrough for Kajol, and her performance fetched her a first Best Actress nomination at the annual Filmfare Awards. The Indian Express noted her for having delivered a “believable performance as the ambitious and headstrong girl who transforms herself from the chauffeur’s daughter to a top model”. A column published by Screen concluded that Yeh Dillagi changed her screen persona “from the girl-next-door to a beauty extraordinaire”.
Kajol made her acting debut at the age of seventeen in the 1992 romantic drama Bekhudi alongside debutante Kamal Sadanah and her mother Tanuja. Kajol played Radhika, who falls in love with Sadanah’s character against her parents’ disapproval. The film turned out to be a box office flop, but Kajol’s performance gained positive notice. The following year, she was cast in Abbas-Mustan’s crime thriller Baazigar (1993), the fourth highest-grossing film of the year with revenues of ₹182.5 million (US$2.6 million). Co-starring Shah Rukh Khan and Shilpa Shetty, the film saw Kajol in the role of Priya Chopra, a young woman who falls in love with her sister’s murderer, unaware of his identity. Baazigar marked the first of her many collaborations with Khan. Although her performance drew critical attention, Kajol was criticised for her looks.
The biggest success of 1998 for Kajol was her final release of that year, Karan Johar’s directorial debut, the romance Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. It became the first Indian feature to be shot in Scotland, and emerged as an all-time blockbuster in both India and overseas. Kajol played Anjali Sharma, a tomboyish college student who is secretly in love with her best friend from college (Shah Rukh Khan). The story follows their renewed encounter years later when he is widowed and she has transformed her appearance and is already engaged to marry someone else. Nikhat Kazmi wrote that Kajol “is almost mesmeric” in the part, and Khalid Mohamed of Bombay Talkies believed the film “belongs to Kajol”. She eventually won her second Best Actress award at the 44th Filmfare Awards ceremony and first Zee Cine Award for Best Actor – Female for her performance. Filmfare included Kajol’s work in both Dushman and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in their listing of Indian cinema’s “80 Most Iconic performances”. In a year-end column, The Tribune’s Madhur Mittal reported that Kajol had “emerged as the consummate heroine with her excellent emoting and sensational screen presence in each portrayal”.
In 2018, Kajol portrayed an uneducated aspiring singer who enrolls at her son’s (Riddhi Sen) school to complete her education in the parenting-themed drama Helicopter Eela, based on Anand Gandhi’s Gujarati play Beta, Kaagdo. She was particuraly drawn to the role for its colourful personality and her relationship with her son. The feature failed both commercially and with critics, though Kajol was appreciated for her performance.
In 1998, Kajol participated in concert tour “Awesome Foursome” alongside Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla, and Akshay Kumar. After travelling across the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, Kajol refused to participate in any more world tours, as she couldn’t handle “the stress”. She featured as a talent judge with husband Ajay Devgn and mother Tanuja in Zee TV’s 2008 reality show Rock-N-Roll Family. She described the experience was “much, much tougher than films”, but adding, “… television has a great connection with a live audience which is a refreshing change for us actors.”
In 1995, Kajol starred in two major commercial successes opposite Shah Rukh Khan: Karan Arjun and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. The former was an action film directed by Rakesh Roshan and based on the concept of reincarnation, and it offered her the supporting part of Sonia Saxena Singh, Khan’s love interest. The film eventually emerged as the second-highest-grossing film of the year in India. Interviewed by Stardust, she explained her minor role in the film, saying she wanted to “know how it feels to be an ornament” and admitting she “had nothing to do in the film except look good”. Kajol’s next three releases—Taaqat, Hulchul and Gundaraj—underperformed at the box office; the latter two were her earliest collaborations with her future-husband, Ajay Devgn, and trade analysts attributed the failure to their chemistry.
Following a five-year absence, Kajol teamed with Shah Rukh Khan for the seventh time in Rohit Shetty’s action romance Dilwale (2015). She portrayed Meera Dev Malik, the daughter of a mafia don who falls for a man from the rival family. Reviewers were varied in their opinions about the film; Mint declared it as the “most tiresome film of the year”. The mixed critical response led her to express regret over her choice of the film over Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh (2016). Still, Kajol’s performance drew positive comments despite a lesser character; in the words of Suhani Singh of India Today, “Kajol is a radiant presence on the screen and delivers what’s expected out of her—which is not much.” Dilwale emerged as a major commercial success, grossing more than ₹3.8 billion (US$53 million) worldwide, and ranks among of the highest-grossing Bollywood films of all time. Kajol’s performance garnered Best Actress nominations at various award ceremonies, including Filmfare.
Following her marriage, Kajol moved in with Devgn and his parents at the latter’s ancestral house in Juhu. She was encouraged by her in-laws to continue working in films. Tabloids have often romantically linked Devgn with other Bollywood actresses, and have reported an imminent divorce. Dismissing the rumors as gossip, Kajol attested to not giving attention to such talk.
Kajol prefers not to talked much about her personal life, and stated that she disliked being interviewed, considering it “a waste of time”. She gave birth to daughter Nysa on 20 April 2003. Seven years later, on 13 September 2010, she gave birth to a son, Yug. She described motherhood as “fab” and added that her kids brought out “the best in her”. Kajol has used Devgn as her surname.
Following the success of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…, Kajol took a sabbatical from full-time acting. In an interview with The Times of India, she revealed, “I’m not quitting films, I’m just being selective. Fortunately, I’m in a position where I can pick and choose.” She added that the reason behind the break was to concentrate on her marriage and “start a family”. During this period, she refused Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001), Devdas (2002), Shakti: The Power (2002), and Veer-Zaara (2004).
Born: (1974-08-05) 5 August 1974 (age 46)Bombay, Maharashtra, India
Other names: Kajol Devgn
Years active: 1992–present
Works: Full list
Net worth: ₹200 crore (US$28 million)
Spouse(s): Ajay Devgn (m. 1999)
Parent(s): Shomu MukherjeeTanuja
Family: Mukherjee-Samarth family
Awards: Full list
Honours: Padma Shri (2011)
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