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Kajol is one of those actors who hasn’t cared much about naysayers – unibrow, skin colour, et al., and has gone ahead to make a mark in Bollywood.
A young Kajol with a unibrow, short hair and sportswear in the basketball court calling Rahul (ShahRukh Khan) a cheater is perhaps one of the most iconic scenes that Bollywood remembers. Kajol was an integral part of every 90s kid’s childhood.
At a time which saw an increasing number of rom-com movies where the heroine was made to play a bare minimum role equal to that of a showpiece, Kajol commanded the screen with her powerful presence, courageous, bubbly and easygoing attitude, holding her own opposite big actors.
Born into a film family it wasn’t tough for her to enter the movie industry, but it takes more than just a family back-up to create a star. A perfectly balanced mix of stellar performances, blockbuster movies, and the love and adoration of millions of people, Kajol earned it all with her broad smile, expressive eyes and impressive talent.
Starting out with Bekhudi in 1992, her journey in Bollywood has been an upward spiral, extraordinary to say the least. With a record of maximum number of wins under the Filmfare Best Actress category, Kajol has 6 Filmfare awards under her belt so far and has also been awarded the title of Padma Shri, fourth highest civilian honour of the country.
From the 1990s she has commanded the big screen with her consistent stellar performances and with big movies like Dilwale (2015) and upcoming movie Ela; we know that Kajol’s stardom is far from fading. So on her birthday, here’s looking back at 15 best movies of her 25 year long career.
There is nothing that has not already been said about this blockbuster; 20 years after its first release, the movie is still being shown at the Maratha Mandir Theatre in Mumbai. That should tell you enough of its success.
Raj and Simran became names as popular as Romeo and Juliet in India. The movie revolves around two young non resident Indians Raj and Simran who fall in love during a vacation through Europe. But when Raj learns that Simran is promised to another, he follows her to India to win her and her family over.
Kajol won hearts with her portrayal of Simran, who strongly rejects the advances of Raj at the beginning and then stands up against her family for the man she loves, refusing to succumb to their pressure and lead an unhappy life.
Her second film and first blockbuster, in this crime thriller Kajol’s character Priya falls in love with a man who she doesn’t know has set out to destroy her father. Priya discovers the truth not only about Ajay but her own father, who she discovers had greatly wronged Ajay and his family realizing that it isn’t Ajay who is to be blamed.
This film also gave us the much loved golden pair of ShahRukh and Kajol.
Her first major hit with now husband Ajay Devgn saw her trying her hand at comedy in this multi-starrer rom-com directed by Indra Kumar. Kajol proved that she could transition swiftly from serious roles to comical ones by playing Kajal, a middle class girl who falls in love with a rich man.
The movie had some of the most memorable hilarious dialogues and scenes that will have you rolling on the floor laughing. A rollercoaster ride with the first half as a slapstick comedy and second half as a melodrama, Kajol shone in this movie that also had Amir Khan and Juhi Chawla .
Kajol’s only film where she was paired with Akshay Kumar, Yeh Dillagi was the sixth highest grossing film of 1994. Kajol plays the role of Sapna, the daughter of Saigal family’s driver who is a simple fun loving girl who dreams about riches. Chaos and confusion arises however when Vicky (Saif Ali Khan) and Vijay ( Akshay Kumar), both heirs to Saigal industries fall in love with her.
Kajol was nominated for the Best Actress Award at Filmfare. The energy in the movie along with beautiful songs and easy and natural chemistry between the lead pair of Akshay and Kajol makes Yeh Dillagi a memorable movie.
And talk about being versatile, Kajol shed her timid girl image to play the role of an obsessive lover in this suspense thriller, also starring Manisha Koirala and Bobby Deol. This was one of the first movies of its time which had a mainstream actress playing an unabashed negative role.
Kajol’s acting elevated the climax of this movie. We would love to see her in a role like this again.
One of the biggest films of her career, Karan Johar’s directional debut put her opposite ShahRukh Khan as the fun-loving tomboy Anjali who is secretly in love with her best friend. Her role in the movie was listed by Filmfare as a part of Indian Cinema’s “80 Most Iconic performances”.
The movie became an all-time blockbuster in India and overseas and brought the actress yet another Filmfare Best Actress Award. Anjali staring out of the train as tears stream down her face, throws her dupatta at Rahul as sad music plays is a scene no one has been able to forget.
This psychological thriller movie can send chills down your spine. Probably one of the most violent movies of the time, Dushman saw Kajol play in a double role. The movie revolves around twin sisters and a postman who sexually assaults and murders women.
This was one of Kajol’s most brilliant performances on screen that got her yet another best actress award. Dushman went on to become the seventh highest grossing Hindi film of that year.
Dubbed into Hindi as Sapnay, this Tamil musical romantic comedy put Kajol opposite Arvind Swamy and Prabhu Deva. The story revolves around Thomas (Arvind Swamy) an NRI, who returns to India to help his father in his business but falls in love with Priya (Kajol) who much to the horror of Thomas wants to become a nun. Thomas takes the help of a hairstylist Deva (Prabhu Deva) who tries to make Priya fall in love with Thomas but Priya ends up falling in love with Deva.
This rollercoaster ride of a movie was loved by the audience and it went on to win four National Film Awards.
Remake of the Telugu Film Pavithra Bandhan, Kajol plays the role of Megha, a hardworking girl struggling to support her family who due to her financial needs agrees to get married to her boss’ spoilt son Vijay(Anil Kapoor), who has one condition – the marriage has to be annulled after a year if he does not fall in love with Megha.
Kajol shines in the role of a devoted wife trying to make her husband fall in love with her who turns into a strong woman who refuses to take her husband back for breaking her trust. The film was declared super hit and Kajol was nominated for a Filmfare Best Actress Award.
Again paired opposite husband Ajay Devgn, in a 1955 Hollywood movie French Kiss remake, Kajol plays the role of Sanjana, an NRI living in Paris who flies to India to get back her fiancé Rahul, becoming friends with her co-passenger on the flight Shekhar (Ajay Devgn) who unknown to her is a thief and has stolen a diamond necklace. And thus amidst all the drama and confusion, Shekhar and Sanjana fall in love with each other.
Now who doesn’t remember this movie? You are not a Bollywood buff if you have not watched this movie at least 20 times.
Anjali (Kajol) going about in the Raichand mansion breaking “gamlas”, or dancing sensually with Rahul (ShahRukh Khan) in the desert to Suraj Hua Maddham, or mistaking Rahul’s attempts at wooing her to be steps to take away her “Mithai ka Dukaan” are scenes that have been more permanently etched in our minds than the multiplication tables we learnt in Math, and Anjali was perhaps our most favourite character.
Despite being in a multi-starrer, Kajol stole the thunder with her class apart performance as a Punjabi girl, winning her third Filmfare Award and making Anjali one of the most iconic characters in Bollywood. Watch a scene from the movie:
Kajol has acted with all three Khans in Bollywood which is perhaps another evidence of her immense stardom. This was Kajol’s comeback movie after long and it was one of the most expensive films during the time of its release. Kajol plays the role of a blind Kashmiri woman who falls in love with a tour guide (Aamir) who part ways after a few terror attacks. It is later revealed that Aamir is actually a Kashmiri insurgent and the mastermind behind these attacks.
One of the most intense and romantic movies in her career, the climax of the movie where Kajol shoots Aamir still resonates with us.
The movie saw the golden pair of Kajol and ShahRukh in a counter-terrorism drama based on the ethnic profiling and discrimination faced by American Muslims post the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Kajol plays Mandira, a Hindu single mother living in the States who had married an autistic Muslim man.
Kajol received critical appreciation for her role as she managed in bringing emotional depth and feel to a story that was essentially Rizwan’s story. She bagged her fifth Filmfare award for the film thereby sharing the record for most ‘Best Actress’ award wins with her aunt, Nutan.
Raj (ShahRukh) falls in love with Meera (Kajol), but they part ways due to their families’ rivalry. Fifteen years later they are brought together when their siblings fall in love with each other.
Kajol was perhaps the best thing in the otherwise brain-less romantic comedy as the strong and courageous Meera who is equally badass as her male counterpart and does not shy away from using her gun, and her sizzling chemistry with ShahRukh makes the movie watchable .
PS- Gerua song gave us major flashbacks to K3G and made our hearts flutter.
Released last year, this film marked Kajol’s return to Tamil cinema after two decades, playing the role of Vasundara chairman of a big construction company in South India who is pitted against Raguvaran (Dhanush). Kajol shines in her role as the cold, rich and ruthless woman and makes the film her own. Despite the poorly written role she flourishes with her confidence and attitude with while she executes her part of a villain. She makes this movie a must watch.
Here’s wishing Kajol a very happy birthday!
Header image is a composite of stills from Kajol’s various movies
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B.A English Honours at Jadavpur University.
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