BOLLYWOOD >ACTRESS > BIOGRAPHY > Karishma Kapoor
Who would have thought that the great showman's granddaughter would have a tough struggle before anyone took her seriously?For that matter, would Raj Kapoor have been pleased at all, to watch little Lolo on screen? Most probably, not, considering the Kapoor family's aversion to letting their women folk pursue a career in films.
Karisma's mother, Babita had to bid adieu to the arclights when she tied the knot with Randhir Kapoor, as did Rishi Kapoor's wife, Neetu, who had to pack up at the height of her popularity.
It is no wonder then that Babita groomed her elder daughter to step into her shoes and break the family tradition, in what was then interpreted as a blatant act of rebellion. An awkward looking Karisma took centrestage at the tender age of 17 in D Rama Naidu's romance, 'Prem Qaidi' (1991), opposite Southern actor Harish.
A steady stream of flops followed its moderate success till finally, another Southern hit, 'Anari' (1993) bailed her out. After which started the beginning of her association with Govinda. Together with David Dhawan, they kicked up quite a row with the raunchy and highly controversial "Sarkailyo khatiyaa" number from 'Raja Babu' (1994), that fetched Karisma a loyal fan following amongst front benchers and earned her equal flak from critics.
But who cared for critical acclaim anyway? It was the box-office returns that mattered and that's exactly where this phenomenal team scored, once again with 'Coolie No. 1' (1995).
Around the same time, Lolo dropped the 'h' from Karishma and became Karisma Kapoor, apparently for numerological reasons. She also hired ace fashion designer Manish Malhotra to give herself a make over.
Whatever it was that clicked, transformed Karisma from being an 'also-ran' to a prime contender for Madhuri Dixit's crown. A fact affirmed by the mind-boggling success of her 'comeback' film, 'Raja Hindustani' (1996). Armed with an all-new wardrobe, brown contact lenses and refreshing make-up, Karisma looked a different person and oozed immense confidence on screen.
And then she displayed enough courage to actually take on the reigning queen by consenting to play the second lead in Yash Chopra's 'Dil To Pagal Hai', a role several other frontline heroines had politely rejected. Everyone believed this move was tantamount to professional hara-kiri, since Madhuri was still No.1 and, in any case, had the meatier part.
But, come Diwali 1997, Karisma was having the last laugh, when the film got a warm welcome at ticket windows and it was she and not Ms. Dixit who was being lauded for her performance.
Since then the Kapoor gal has only got better in every department. And has steadily pushed back the competition to earn the well-deserved top slot. For, Karisma has evolved into a polished actress, with films like 'Biwi No. 1', 'Haseena Maan Jayegi' (1999) and 'Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge' (2000).
So much so, not even rumours of her alleged fallout with long-time co-star Govinda could make a dent in her popularity ratings. Nor has the arrival of the Aishwarya Rais and Rani Mukherjees made any difference.
Today, Karisma is every filmmaker's delight, for her thorough professionalism and willingness to stretch herself to the limit. No wonder then that a Shyam Benegal has cast her in his 'Zubeida' and Khalid Mohammed has chosen her the heroine of his directorial debut, 'Fiza'.
On the personal front, there has been speculation about her relationship with Bachchan junior, but neither of them is prepared to talk about it. Rightly so. After all this is prime time for these star kids, with Abhishek about to make his debut and Karisma on top of the world…
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