BOLLYWOOD >ACTRESS > BIOGRAPHY > Manisha Koirala
No other actress has raised audience expectations to unimaginable heights and then brought them crashing down as Manisha Koirala has. Sadly, there have been more downs than ups in her checkered career.
The charming beauty who hails from an illustrious Nepali family (her grandfather was the first Prime Minister of democratic Nepal) was once slated to be Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit's successor. In fact, she has often been accused of modeling herself after the former. And when she bagged the coveted lead role in Vidhu Vinod Chopra's '1942: A Love Story' (1993) that was originally meant for Madhuri, she created quite a stir.
It was her inclusion in this film that prevented Manisha's relegation into history as another one-film wonder. For, all the way from her sensational debut in Subhash Ghai's 'Saudagar' (1991) to '1942…', Manisha had achieved precious nothing.
She couldn't have expected much from the likes of 'First Love Letter' (1991), 'Yalgaar' (1992), 'Dhanwaan' (1993) in any case.
But under Chopra's watchful eye, she transformed into a pristine beauty. Not only did Manisha look incredibly innocent and vulnerable in this period drama, she also executed the demanding role of a freedom fighter's daughter torn between two worlds, with amazing conviction.
And then followed it up with two more towering acts in Mansoor Khan's 'Akele Hum Akele Tum' (1995) and Mani Ratnam's 'Bombay' (1995). These three films confirmed the fact that Manisha was one of the most accomplished actresses on the scene.
A few hiccups later, she portrayed another exciting character in 'Agnisakshi'. But her stock really soared skyward with the bilingual super-hit 'Hindustani' (1996) and a memorable performance in Sanjay Bhansali' 'Khamoshi - The Musical' (1996) _ a film that brought out the best
Playing a character caught between the silent world of her deaf and mute parents and the prospect of a fruitful singing career, she lent immense credibility to the dilemma of an individual trying to strike the right balance, as she'd done in '1942…', 'Akele Hum...' and 'Bombay'.
Her next commercial venture was Rajiv Rai's 'Gupt', which may have had little to offer by way of meat, but was still important because of it's huge success.
And then came 'Dil Se..' (1998), Mani Ratnam's first Hindi film _ and his second with Manisha after 'Bombay'. While it turned to be a complete washout at the box-office, it was, perhaps, Manisha's greatest moment as an actress. In a role executed with acute sensitivity and defined by the art of understatement, her delicate face offered a range of expressions and emotions with rare finesse.
Sadly, there's been nothing to write home about after 'Dil Se..'. Except of course juicy tidbits from her personal life that provide ample grist for the gossip mills and endless talk about other indulgences.
On the professional front, Manisha has either picked up inconsequential roles ('Kachche Dhaage' (1999), 'Baaghi' (2000)) or lent her name to a string of no-starters ('Mann' (1999), 'Khauff' (2000)). Unfortunately, there's very little to look forward to as well. It's perhaps not appropriate to wonder if this is the end of the road for her, but it is going to take something really special to put her career back on track.
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