Along with her late aunt Nutan, Kajol holds the record for most Best Actress wins at the Filmfare Awards, with five. In 2011, the Government of India honoured her with the Padma Shri for her contribution to Indian Cinema. She is married to fellow Indian actor Ajay Devgn, with whom she has two children.
Family and background
Kajol was born in Mumbai of Bengali-Marathi descent. Her mother Tanuja is an actress, while her late father Shomu Mukherjee was a film director and producer. He died after suffering from a cardiac arrest in 2008. Her maternal aunt is the late actress Nutan (with whom she holds the record for the most wins (five times) of the Filmfare Award for Best Actress) and her maternal grandmother Shobhna Samarth and great grandmother Rattan Bai had both been involved in Hindi cinema.
Her paternal uncles are film producers; Joy Mukherjee and Deb Mukherjee. Kajol's paternal grandfather, Sashadhar Mukherjee, was a filmmaker. Kajol's paternal grandmother, Satirani Devi, was sister of Ashok Kumar, Anoop Kumar and Kishore Kumar. Kajol's cousins Rani Mukerji, Sharbani Mukherjee and Mohnish Behl are also Bollywood actors; whereas her cousin Ayan Mukerji is a director. Kajol's younger sister Tanisha Mukherjee is also an actress.
Kajol married Bollywood actor Ajay Devgan on February 24, 1999. The couple has 2 children, a daughter named Nysa (born on 20th April 2003) and a son named Yug (born on 13th September 2010).
Debut and success
Kajol left her school St. Josephs convent at Panchgani and started her career at the age of seventeen. Her debut film was 1992's Bekhudi, which was a box office failure. In 1993, she shot to fame with her second film, Abbas-Mustan's thriller Baazigar. The film saw her co-starring alongside Shahrukh Khan, with whom she later went on to make a popular pairing in a number of films, all of which were box office successes.
In 1995 Kajol appeared in the two biggest hits of the year in India. Her first release was Rakesh Roshan's Karan Arjun. The film, which dealt with reincarnation, became the second-highest grossing film of the year. While her next three releases that year failed commercially, her last release, Aditya Chopra's directorial debut, the romance Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, was not only the biggest hit of that year, but one of Hindi cinema's most successful films. In 2008, the film entered its twelfth year in Mumbai theaters, grossing over 12 billion rupees overall, making it one of the biggest blockbusters in Bollywood. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge was also a major critical success; it won ten Filmfare Awards, and Kajol's performance as a young NRI who falls for Shahrukh Khan's character was praised, earning her a first Filmfare Award for Best Actress. In 2005, Indiatimes Movies ranked the movie amongst the 25 Must See Bollywood Films, citing it as a "trendsetter of sorts". In that same year's retrospective review by Rediff, Raja Sen stated Aditya Chopra ... wisely picked Kajol to play Simran, the real-as-life actress bringing warmth and credulity to the initially prudish and reluctant Simran. Not to mention the on-screen chemistry that has become the stuff of legend."
Kajol had only one release in 1996, Bambai Ka Babu, opposite Saif Ali Khan, which was a box office failure. In 1997, Kajol starred in Gupt: The Hidden Truth. Co-starring actors Bobby Deol and Manisha Koirala, the film was one of the highest grossing films of that year. Apart from that, her performance was a significant development for female actors in Bollywood; she was the first female actor to win the Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Negative Role. Her next film release that year was Hameshaa. Like Karan Arjun, the film dealt with reincarnation, but unlike the latter, it failed at the box office. She next starred in her first Tamil film, Minsaara Kanavu. Her final release of that year was the romantic-comedy Ishq, where she was paired with her then-future husband Ajay Devgan. It performed well at the box office.
Kajol had further success in 1998, as she was the main lead starred in three of the year's biggest hits. She first starred opposite Salman Khan in the comedy Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya. The film was the fourth highest grossing film of the year. Her next release, Dushman alongside Sanjay Dutt, did moderately well at the box office. She had a double role in the film, and won her first Star Screen Award for Best Actress for her performance. She next starred opposite Ajay Devgan in the romance Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha, which was the second biggest hit of that year. However, her biggest success that year came with her final release, Karan Johar's directorial debut, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, which paired her again with Shahrukh Khan and went on to become the biggest hit of the year in both India and overseas. She played the role of Anjali, a young college student who is secretly in love with her closest friend, and many years after breaking contact meets him again after the death of his wife. She won her second Filmfare Best Actress Award for her performance.
Kajol's first release in 1999 was the drama film Dil Kya Kare. She played the supporting role of Nandita Rai, which was well received. She had a hit with her second release, the family drama Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain. Starring alongside Anil Kapoor, Kajol received another Best Actress nomination at the Filmfare. She had an unsuccessful year in 2000, as her only release that year, Raju Chacha went unnoticed.
Kajol had only two films released in 2001. She first played a double role in the drama Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi, which was a commercial failure. However, she reinvented her success in her second venture with Karan Johar, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham..., which was a major grosser in India and the top-grossing Indian production of all-time in the overseas market until 2006. Kajol's role was that of Anjali, a young Punjabi woman from Delhi's market Chandni Chowk, who falls for the rich Rahul, played by Shahrukh Khan. Her comic-dramatic performance won her several awards, including her third Filmfare Award for Best Actress and her second Star Screen Award for Best Actress. Taran Adarsh labelled her "first-rate" and predicted that her "Punjabi dialect will win her immense praise". The Hindu wrote, "Kajol ... steals the thunder from under very high noses indeed. With her precise timing and subtle lingering expression, she is a delight all the way." This was Kajol's last collaboration with Khan until they would be cast again by Johar as a lead pair in early 2010.
Following the success of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Kajol took a sabbatical from full-time acting for five years. She gave birth to her daughter Nysa in 2003. She made a successful comeback in 2006 with Kunal Kohli's drama Fanaa, one of the highest grossing films of the year. Portraying a blind Kashmiri girl who falls in love with a Kashmiri terrorist (played by Aamir Khan) in the film, she won her fourth Filmfare Best Actress Award.
U Me Aur Hum, which released on 11 April 2008, marked her husband Ajay Devgan's directorial debut. For her performance as an Alzheimer's patient in the film, she received her tenth Filmfare Best Actress Award nomination. Raja Sen wrote in his review, "... Kajol ... can span through happy-breezy with her eyes closed, and so the first half doesn't even pose her a challenge, but when Alzheimer's strikes Piya and she begins to forget all that matters in her life, Kajol raises the bar strikingly high."
Kajol next starred alongside Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Rampal in We Are Family, an Indian adaptation of the Hollywood movie Stepmom (1998). Directed by Siddharth Malhotra, Hindustan Times critic Mayank Shekhar stated, "The premise is stuff dry tissues are made for. Yet, the pathos here is produced not from moments, but from performances alone: a stunning Kajol’s in particular. She appears superior to Susan Sarandon, I suspect." Her next film, Toonpur Ka Superhero, a live-action/animated film, was released in December 2010.