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Kareena Kapoor, a Blockbuster Bollywood Heroine

  | January 08, 2015 15:12 IST (New Delhi)
Kareena Kapoor Khan

Days into 2015, Kareena found herself inadvertently the focal point of a controversy.

Kareena Kapoor, fourth generation of a sprawling Bollywood dynasty, was both born into greatness and achieved it on her own merit

Actress Kareena Kapoor, fourth generation of a sprawling Bollywood dynasty, was both born into greatness and achieved it on her own merit. She wears her last name as a badge of honour, having become one of her generation's top stars despite the fact that the women of the Kapoor family were discouraged from appearing on screen. Actresses who married into the clan were traditionally expected to retire from the arclights.

Kareena's mother, actress Babita, did retire - but she encouraged her daughters, Karisma and Kareena, to forge showbiz careers. Kareena's DNA has served her well over the years. Her family includes some of India's most feted actors - grandfather Raj, grand-uncles Shammi and Shashi, grand-aunts-by-marriage Geeta Bali and Jennifer Kendal, father Randhir, mother Babita, uncles Rishi and Rajeev, aunt-by-marriage Neetu Singh, sister Karisma and cousins Ranbir Kapoor and Armaan Jain.

Kareena didn't automatically drift into acting, however, after leaving the Welham Girls' School in Dehra Dun. She studied commerce for two years at Mumbai's Mithibai College, then took a three-month course in microcomputers at Harvard, and finally enrolled in Mumbai's Government Law College. One year of law later, Kareena switched gears and signed up for an acting course. While attending her acting classes, Kareena was cast as the female lead in Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai, intended as a Launchpad for director Rakesh Roshan's son Hrithik. Kareena eventually quit the film, feeling she would be playing second fiddle to the hero and ended up making her debut opposite another newcomer, superstar Amitabh Bachchan's son Abhishek, in J P Dutta's Refugee.

Refugee, which released in 2000, received a lukewarm welcome at the box office but Kareena's star quality was instantly noted by critics and audience alike. The very next year, she co-starred with Shah Rukh Khan in Asoka and then appeared as 'Poo' in the blockbuster Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham which featured an ensemble cast of Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, SRK, Kajol and Hrithik Roshan. Over the next few years, Kareena's career graph careened wildly - she appeared in acclaimed films such as Chameli and Yuva as well as bombs such as Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon.

Among Kareena's best-known roles are Omkara's rustic belle Dolly, the chirpy Geet of Jab We Met and 3 Idiots' gutsy Pia. Kareena appeared opposite Salman Khan in the blockbuster Bodyguard and reunited with SRK for the ill-fated superhero film RA.One. In 2012, she starred in Heroine which was meant to be a magnum opus of sorts but didn't quite turn out that way. Until last year's hit Singham Returns, opposite her Omkara hero Ajay Devgn, Kareena's recent resume contained more misses than hits.

After a romance with her Jab We Met co-star Shahid Kapoor, Kareena began dating actor Saif Ali Khan with whom she appeared in films like Tashan and Kurbaan. In October 2012, Kareena and Saif married in Mumbai.

Days into 2015, Kareena found herself inadvertently the focal point of controversy after a doctored photo of her was used on the cover of a magazine run by the Durga Vahini, the women's wing of the Vishva Hindu Parishad. The image showed Kareena's face half-covered by a niqab, partly obscuring the bindion her forehead. The photo was used as part of a campaign run by the Durga Vahini that aims to 'reconvert' Hindu women married to Muslim men - as Kareena is.

Kareena is currently filming Bajrangi Bhaijaan with actor Salman Khan.

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