News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » Movies » Why Karisma Kapoor Is A Golden Girl

Why Karisma Kapoor Is A Golden Girl

June 25, 2024 09:59 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

Photograph: Kind courtesy Karisma Kapoor/Instagram

Born with baby blue eyes and one of the most famous surnames in show business, Karisma Kapoor's desire to become a Bollywood actress may seem ordinary in the public eye. After all, growing up as an alumna of the Cathedral and John Connon School, participating in school plays (as Rapunzel and even Jesus Christ like she told journalist Karan Thapar in an interview once), acting is all she could dream about.

Except neither her grandfather Raj Kapoor's iconic RK banner nor her dad Randhir or uncles Rishi and Rajiv would be the ones to indulge her or launch her as is the norm for star sons. The eldest daughter of actors Babita and Randhir Kapoor would chart her own course, independently and ably.

It wasn't a cake walk by any stretch. Even the biggest critics of nepotism will give her that.

Karisma, fondly known as Lolo to her family and friends, was barely 16 when she made her entry in the movies.

Drum roll? Not exactly.


When her big ticket debut opposite Dharmendra's son Bobby Deol in their home production Barsaat (later offered to Twinkle Khanna) took too long to take off, she chose to walk out and star in producer D Rama Naidu's low stakes remake of his Telugu hit opposite child actor turned hero, Harish.

You can imagine how many hotshot egos that one bold move alone must have hurt.

But the real flak followed when her first film Prem Qaidi hit the screens. Everything about the over-the-top, awkward teenybopper romance -- from her bushy eyebrows to shrill voice, purple pink lipstick to silly dance in a swimsuit -- was fair game.

Despite the negativity, the movie was a success.

And for the longest time, that's all Karisma would single-mindedly focus on.

Look up her resume and you'll find a slew of box office winners where her role is limited to dancing doll or eye candy. With Govinda by her side though, the popularity of their No 1 combination soared and became stuff of pop culture history.

Back then, of course, the lissome star had to take a lot of heat for her 'sexy' trends and 'sarkailo' moves from the moral police brigade and ilk.

It would take a Raja Hindustani-sized makeover to turn things around and catapult Karisma into the A-list.

Once that happened, there was no looking back.

Her talent gained respectability and showed off its range in author-backed roles like Zubeidaa and National Award winning turns in Dil To Pagal Hai under the might and magic of veterans like Shyam Benegal and Yash Chopra respectively.

Both Karisma's highs and lows, personal or professional, are no secret from the media. But it's her active contribution as boss lady, super mom, supportive sister, effortless fashionista, delightful entertainer and eternal Kapoor, never shying away from embodying what her Dadaji always said, jeena yahan marna yahan that continues to define her.

On her 50th birthday on June 25, Sukanya Verma celebrates some of her most significant works.

Prem Qaidi

Everything is ridiculous about Karisma in Prem Qaidi: Her hair, eyebrows, makeup, wardrobe and acting. Her voice is also the most curious thing about it. Karisma's quirky originality and oddball charm is the only reason to check out this daft take on a rich girl-poor boy love story.



A fairly overlooked performance of Karisma's early oeuvre, Dhanwaan reveals her flair for flaky humour while playing a poor little rich hypochondriac coming of age in K Vishwanath's soppy melodrama.

Co-starring Ajay Devgn and Manisha Koirala, Dhanwaan slipped into obscurity but '90s movie buffs will remember its potential.


Andaz Apna Apna

Speaking of ditzy roles, can Karisma's turn as the loony heiress posing as the girl Friday making eyes at Salman Khan's equally goofy Prem be far behind?

To think the actress hasn't even fully watched the comedy now hailed as a cult classic among its legion of fans.

Her offscreen catfights with co-star Raveena Tandon may have attracted more attention but it's her droll expressions and pigtailed looks that add to the fun.



Right before Karisma's Raja Hindustani era, the actress flexed her histrionic chops as a passionate young woman in Raj Kanwar's action masala Jeet.

Caught in a romantic triangle where she must abandon the thug she rehabilitates for the goody two-shoes her dad guilt-tripped her into marrying, she puts up quite a valiant show.


Raja Hindustani

Dharmesh Darshan's Jab Jab Phool Khile rehash proved to be a Cinderella moment in Lolo's career. Her slick transformation wasn't limited to straight hair, demure desi wardrobe and contact lenses. Karisma's appreciable restraint in conveying her Aarti's dilemma and desire was equally notable.

Raja Hindustani's blockbuster success was followed by her first Filmfare Award for Best Actress.


Hero No 1

Govinda formed the nucleus of his David Dhawan comic capers but Karisma's frothy contribution to their electric jodi cannot be undermined.

Be it their synchronised dance moves or zesty chemistry in madcap masala, Lolo matched Chi Chi's energy at every step. Of the numerous money-spinners they teamed up in, Hero No 1 highlights its vivacity to the hilt.


Dil To Pagal Hai

Can you imagine Yash Chopra's Valentine-special musical sans Karisma Kapoor? Only there was a time when date issues made it impossible for her to take on one of the roles that would fetch her a National Award.

Luckily, she sorted it all just in time to steal the show as Shah Rukh Khan's adorable BFF and Madhuri Dixit's romantic rival throwing herself in the role and rhythm of Nisha's throbbing heart and rousing dancer.


Biwi No 1

As a reward for enriching his hero-centric no-brainers, David Dhawan gifted Karisma her very own No 1 movie where she would do a little more than play arm candy.

Dhawan's trademark frivolity colours his tale of adultery wherein a devoted desi wife responds to her straying husband by giving him a taste of her hectic life and endless responsibilities.

Brimming in charisma and chutzpah, Karisma has a ball taking charge.



When Khalid Mohammad's Fiza happened, Karisma appeared to put aside her mainstream duties for meaningful roles.

Displaying an emotional acumen for roles giving a glimpse of her character's pain and anger in gentle ways, Karisma won acclaim in her titular role as a sister looking for her lost brother in the aftermath of Bombay's 1993 riots.



Shyam Benegal's Zubeidaa witnessed her hunger as an artist as Karisma got under the skin of her author-backed protagonist's indomitable spirit with gorgeous grace.

Against its vintage albeit claustrophobic world of royals and nobles, Karisma painted a lingering portrait of poignant melancholy and smothered womanhood.


Murder Mubarak

It was a hoot to watch the actress return to doing what she does best after a long gap as part of Homi Adajania's whodunit ensemble.

Murder Mubarak's middling suspense left a lot to be desired but Karisma's flawless understanding of her B-film actress, all her campy notes as well as heartfelt ones, made one wish she would appear a lot more on the screen.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox: