"Today, I'm working on my own terms. And that's a great achievement for a Hindi film heroine. I've done great movies, great roles. What more can I ask for? Frankly, which heroine after Madhuri Dixit can boast of a success ratio like mine?"
(Filmfare, Jan. 2002)

Call her Ms. Kapoor. Call her by her nickname, Lolo (which means "sweet" in Sindhi, her mother's first language). But if you meet her, whatever you do, DON'T call her Karishma!

    That's right: the popular pronunciation of Karisma's name -- arising, no doubt, from the Urdu word 'karishma,' meaning 'miracle' -- is wrong. It's Kar-IZ-ma, as in 'charisma,' and she apparently does mind the difference, since she often sets her interviewers straight.

Karisma Kapoor    Karisma is the daughter of one of India's great acting dynasties, but unlike her sister Kareena, who shot to instant fame with her 2000 debut, Karisma has worked for over a decade to achieve her current popularity. Such longevity is remarkable in an industry where most actresses fade away at age thirty. But then, Karisma started working when she was fifteen -- thirty is still three years away.

    Rumors of that other death-knell for a heroine's career -- marriage -- have run rampant since she began a relationship with Abhishek Bachchan, a fellow child of acting royalty. But in a January 2002 interview with Filmfare, Karisma denied any plans to tie the knot: "When the time is right, I'll surely get married. Right now, my career's doing fine. I have age on my side. So what's the hurry? Let me enjoy a few more years of acting." (Good thing that Liz Taylor wasn't a Bollywood actress!)  And indeed, despite the official announcement of the couple's engagement a few months later, Karisma kept her word to Filmfare, breaking off the plans to marry in January 2003. According to Planet Bollywood, "the last nail on the coffin of this relationship was [Abhishek's mother] Jaya Bachchan’s influence on Karisma. 'Babita´s self made daughter,' Karisma had stopped wearing western outfits and also doing ´item numbers´ to respect Bachchan family´s traditional views. Karisma´s closeness to [her mother] Babita and her rather submissive nature compared to sister Kareena are also obvious. All the reasons cited above and also the Bachchan family´s reservation to a court marriage led to Babita prevailing over Karisma and calling off the engagement. " (Planet Bollywood, Jan. 15, 2003)

    This isn't the first time Karisma has faced the marriage gossip. Back in the mid-nineties, a serious relationship with Ajay Devgan also sparked speculation. When the romance ended, Devgan moved on to his future wife, fellow actress Kajol -- and thus arose one of filmdom's favorite tales.

    In the summer of 1995, when the breakup was still fresh, the former lovers found themselves at the same hotel -- in adjoining rooms, no less! -- at the Chola Sheraton in Chennai. The director and producer of Hulchul, the film Devgan was working on, decided to pay him a visit. But reception gave them the wrong room number. They called up to announce their arrival, but when a woman answered the phone, hung up in confusion. Kajol was home in Mumbai, sick, so who was this?

    But perhaps they were wrong; perhaps Kajol, hearing of Karisma's proximity to Ajay, had decided to join him. Calling back, they inquired of the female, "Kajol?"

    Karisma's mother, Babita, was not amused, and abrasively informed them that they had reached the room of Karisma Kapoor. Babita then concluded that Ajay had put the two up to a nasty game to humiliate Karisma. The producer and director, worried they'd inadvertantly created trouble, called back to apologize and explain the receptionist's error. Karisma answered the phone, and, reading guilt into their apology, gave them a tongue lashing that tied up gossip columns for several weeks after. (this anecdote from cinemaa.indya.com)

     For a long time, Karisma also had a serious grudge against Raveena Tandon sparked by her former flame Ajay's dislike of the actress. Raveena alleges that the actress pulled strings to have her ousted from several films. (For more, see Raveena's bio.) This seems to have passed, though the actresses have not worked together.

    Recently, Karisma has seemed the very model of tactful restraint, though her irrepressible sister has allegedly dragged her into several feuds. Thanks to Kareena's rift with Bobby Deol, the two childhood friends supposedly no longer speak, and several gossip columnists have reported Karisma's cold reception of Amisha Patel -- her sister's archrival -- at a recent party to mark the start of their upcoming film.

    While Karisma made her name in "glamor" roles that placed the emphasis on dance items and short hemlines, her recent performances in more artistic fare like 2000's Fiza and 2001's Zubeidaa marked a new phase in her career. But fear not, fellows: though now established as a skilled actress, Karisma continues to accept roles that more prominently showcase her looks, which, as several critics have noted, are mysteriously improving as she ages. If dividing her attentions between commercial and highbrow cinema means she's lost her claim to the Number One slot, she's not worried: "See who's taken my place. My own sister. She's become the hottest thing in town while I was away. I don't mind giving up my position as long as it's still in the family. But I always tell Kareena not to take all this seriously. It's so frivolous. My advice to her is to just concentrate on her career." (Filmfare, Jan 2002)

Karisma Kapoor
born: June 25, 1974
height: 5' 4"

FILMS

1990 Danga Fasad
1991 Prem Qaidi
1991 Coolie No. 1
1992 Deedar
1992 Jigar
1992
Muqabala
1992 Nischay
1992 Police Officers
1992 Sapne Sajan Ke
1993 Aatish
1993 Anari
1993 Jagruti
1993 Sangram
1993 Shaktimaan
1994 Andaz
1994 Andaz Apna Apna*
1994 Dulaari
1994 Gopi Kishan
1994 Khuddar
1994 Prem Shakti
1994 Raja Babu
1994 Suhaag
1994 Yeh Dillagi
1995 Dhanwaan
1995 Jawaab
1995 Jigar
1995 Maidan-e-Jung
1996 Ajay
1996 Bal Brahmachari
1996 Jeet
1996 Krishna
1996 Megha
1996 Papi Gudiya
1996 Raja Hindustani*
1996 Rakshak
1996 Saajan Chale Sasural
1996 Sapoot
1997 Dil To Pagal Hai*
1997 Hero No. 1
1997 Judwaa*
1997 Lahu Ke Do Rang
1997 Mrityudaata
1999 Biwi No. 1*
1999 Haseena Maan Jaayegi
1999 Hum Saath Saath Hain
1999 Jaanwar*
1999 Silsila Hai Pyaar Ka
2000 Chal Mere Bhai
2000 Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge
2000 Fiza*
2000 Hum To Mohabbat Karega
2000 Shikari
2001 Aashiq
2001 Ek Rishtaa*
2001 Zubeidaa*
2002 Haan Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya
2002 Rishtey
2002 Shakti
2003 Baaz - A Bird in Danger

* acclaimed performance


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