Who would have thought that the dusky unibrowed girl who took faltering steps to stardom in Bekhudi (1992) would emerge to be the Industry’s numero uno heroine not only in terms of success but talent as well? Kajol has a permanent place in the history of Indian cinema, thanks to the stupendous success of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995). She could have retired back then but chose not to rest on her laurels, going on to shine in roles after roles in the years to come. On the occasion of her birthday, we present a list of Kajol’s best roles down the years.
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Shilpa Shetty
Ajay Sharma (Shah Rukh Khan) is a young boy who seeks revenge for his father’s death caused by the actions of his trusted employer Madan Chopra (Dalip Tahil). Chopra has two daughters; the elder is Seema (Shilpa Shetty) and the younger is Priya (Kajol). Ajay murders Seema and tries to marry Priya, who herself is investigating her sister’s death. How she pieces together the clues and confronts the killer forms the crux of the film. Baazigar centres around the anti-hero character and made Shah Rukh Khan into a star. It’s a loose remake of the Hollywood hit A Kiss Before Dying. Abbas-Mustan changed the plot to suit the Indian palette. Songs by Anu Malik were a hit as well. And the comedy track involving Johnny Lever too added an air of hilarity to the otherwise grim proceedings. The film belonged to Shah Rukh Khan who blew the audience away with a strong balanced performance of a multi-layered character. Kajol too portrayed her character’s gradual maturity with grace.
Dilwale Dulhaiya Le Jayenge (1995)
Director: Aditya Chopra
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Amrish Puri, Anupam Kher
This is easily the biggest romantic hit in India. Both Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol would still be considered superstars if they had retired after this. It had elements of road-trip movies, boy-girl meet-cute romances, was peppered with Indian values and has a smattering of patriotism as well. What more would anyone want, really. Raj (SRK) fancies himself as a player till he meets with Simran (Kajol) on a European trip and is smitten by her. Circumstances bring them close together and they end up falling in love. But Simran is an Indian lass at heart despite being brought up in England and won’t go against her Bauji’s wishes. So the family sets off to Punjab to see him married to the son of an old family friend. Raj too travels there on his father’s advice to patao her entire khandaan. The father does have a change of heart, in the end, what with Amrish Puri speaking one of the most quoted dialogues in ages — Ja Simran ja…jee le apni zindagi, leading to the famous train chase sequence. Jatin-Lalit’s OST, comprising songs like Mehndi laga ke rakhna, Tujhe dekha to yeh jaana sanam, and Ho gaya hai tujhko to pyar sajna is still a favourite.
Director: Rajiv Rai
Cast: Bobby Deol, Kajol, Manisha Koirala
Kajol rode the anti-hero wave and came on top. She even won the Filmfare Best Villain trophy for it. Gupt clearly belonged to Kajol. Despite the dark shades of her character, she ended up getting the sympathy of the audience. She exercised restraint until the duality of her personality was not discovered and later rained pure mayhem. Saahil Sinha (Bobby Deol) who is the step-son of Jaisingh Sinha (Raj Babbar), the governor of the state. Saahil’s mother (Priya Tendulkar) had married Jaisingh Sinha after the death of her first husband. Saahil does not like his step-father at all. He’s friends with Sheetal Chaudhary (Manisha Koirala), the daughter of a businessman, Meghnaath Chaudhary (Dalip Tahil). However, when he happens to meet Isha (Kajol) in the college, love blossoms between them. Isha is the daughter of the secretary to the governor (Paresh Rawal). Saahil’s step-father gets murdered and the blame falls on him. He’s jailed for the crime but he escapes and tries to find the real killer.
Director: Indra Kumar
Cast: Aamir Khan, Ajay Devgn, Juhi Chawla, Kajol
This was reportedly the last film where Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla starred together. Director Indra Kumar had a casting coup going, casting the much in love real-life pair Kajol and Ajay Devgn together in the film. Ajay wasn’t known for out-and-out comedy before this and proved his versatility with the film. Ajay and Juhi play rich kids who are friends with Aamir and Kajol, who happen to be poor. Their respective fathers, Sadashiv Amrapurkar and Dalip Tahil want them to let go of this friendship and marry each other. But Ajay loves Kajol and Aamir loves Juhi, leading to further ire from their fathers. In order to make them break up, they orchestrate events where it looks like Aamir and Kajol have become intimate. This leads to friction between friends till the situation gets sorted with the help of Johnny Lever’s character. It was a leave-your-brains-behind comedy, with heavy melodrama thrown in as well. The histrionics of a superb lead cast, who were clearly enjoying themselves, made it all feel like a breeze. Ajay and Aamir were brilliant as comrades and it’s a pity the duo didn’t work together in a film.
Director: Tanuja Chandra
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Kajol, Ashutosh Rana
Twins Sonia and Naina (Kajol) are close to each other despite their different personalities. They lead a tranquil life together. Their peace is shattered when a psychotic serial rapist breaks into their house and rapes and murders Sonia. Naina, who was on the phone with her sister, is able to hear everything but is unable to help Sonia. Later, when the judiciary isn’t able to do anything, she takes the help of a blind major (Sanjay Dutt) to train herself and later starts tracking her sister’s killer. Her aim is to avenge her sister’s brutal end and how she does it forms the crux of this violent film. Kajol brought out the personalities of both Sonia and Naina effectively and was good in the fight scenes as well. Her chemistry with Sanjay Dutt too got noticed.
Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha (1998)
Director: Anees Bazmee
Cast: Ajay Devgn. Kajol
It was an unofficial remake of the hit Hollywood film, French Kiss starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline and starred real-life sweethearts Ajay and Kajol. Sanjana (Kajol) lives in Paris and has a fear of flying. When she learns that her fiance, Rahul (Bijay Anand) is falling for someone else, she plans to fly to India to get him back. She meets Shekhar (Ajay Devgn) on the plane and sparks fly. Shekhar is a thief who is flying a diamond necklace home. To escape the attention of the police he hides it in her luggage. Circumstances force them to take a road trip together, during the course of which the attraction turns to love. He’s still a thief, however, and whether he’ll reform for love forms the crux of the film. Aaj hai sagai and the title song from the film are still popular.
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)
Director: Karan Johar
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Rani Mukerji
Designer togs, cool collegians and a love triangle to boot, Karan Johar arrived with on the movie-making scene with a bang with this film. Rahul (SRK), Anjali (Kajol) and Tina (Rani) study together in college. While the tomboyish Anjali is his best friend, he develops serious hots for new girl Tina, whose wardrobe consists of just mini skirts. He marries her and becomes a successful businessman. Tragedy strikes when she passes away soon after giving birth to a daughter. When the daughter turns eight, she reads a letter written for her explaining the love triangle. It was her mother’s dying wish to reunite Rahul and Anjali. How she does so with the help of her grandmother (Farida Jalal) forms the crux of the film. The film had a lovely cameo by Salman Khan who plays Anjali’s fiance. SRK and Kajol have an incredible camaraderie which was very much evident on-screen. Rani’s oomph added an X factor to the proceedings. The entire album composed by Jatin-Lalit sounds fresh and vibrant still.
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… (2001)
Director: Karan Johar
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor
The film was Karan Johar’s take on Ramayana and starred the creme de la creme of Bollywood stars. Tycoon Yashvardhan Raichand (Amitabh Bachchan) and Nandini Raichand (Jaya Bachchan) adopt a child Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan). Rahul is as smart and diligent as his adoptive father and is all set to take the reigns of their business empire. He falls in love with Anjali (Kajol) who belongs to the middle-class. He rebels against his father and marries her and as a result, is turned out of the house. His younger brother Rohan (Hrithik Roshan), the biological son of Yash and Nandini, unites the family years later. The lavishly shot film offered an emotional rollercoaster ride. Jaya Bachchan’s character is shown to be that of a submissive wife who ultimately goes against her husband when she’d reunited with her foster son. Kajol played a supportive wife who yearns to reconcile with her husband’s family. She was at her effervescent best in the film.
Director: Kunal Kohli
Cast: Aamir Khan, Kajol, Rishi Kapoor, Tabu
Zooni (Kajol), who is blind, was in love with Rehan (Aamir Khan) and she’s heartbroken when he’s presumed dead. She doesn’t recognise him when he comes back in her life. He’s actually an enemy agent looking for a trigger for a nuclear weapon. Zulfikar Ali Beg (Rishi Kapoor), Zooni’s father has been bringing up Zooni’s and Rehan’s son. He’s at first happy that this stranger has put a smile back into her daughter’s face. Zooni and her son both start liking the stranger. However, their peace gets shattered when Zulfikar finds out the truth about Rehan. He has a tussle with Rehan, who accidentally kills him. Zooni starts figuring things out for herself and she too finds out that Rehan is a Pakistani spy, leading to a bloody altercation between them.
My Name Is Khan (2010)
Director: Karan Johar
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol
Shah Rukh Khan played a Muslim man suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, who due to circumstances gets accused of being a terrorist. The film touched a chord in the post 9/11 world and Shah Rukh Khan came in for a lot of praise for his valiant portrayal. Rizwan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) has suffered from Asperger’s syndrome since childhood. He’s brilliant at repairing things. His brother takes him to American where his sister-in-law recognises his condition. He meets a Hindu woman, Mandira (Kajol), who has a young son Sam from a previous marriage. The duo hit it off and soon marry. She takes his surname after marriage and after the 9/11 attack, that leads them into trouble. Sam is bullied by his neighbourhood kids because of his new surname and is later killed in a hate crime. A shattered Mandira wants to break all types with Rizwan. She tells him the only way he can get back in her life would be if the US president acknowledges his name is Khan and he’s not a terrorist. He begins a journey across America to fulfil his quest, experiencing many adventures along the way. He finally does get to meet President-elect Obama, who fulfils his wish.
Helicopter Eela (2018)
Director: Pradeep Sarkar
Cast: Kajol, Riddhi Sen, Tota Roy Chowdhury, Neha Dhupia, Zakir Hussain
It’s a coming-of-age film about an overprotective mother. Based on the celebrated Gujarati play Beta Kaagdo by Anand Gandhi, Helicopter Eela talks about both motherhood and womanhood. Worrying is a prerequisite for every mother. They never stop worrying even for a moment. Sometimes it becomes obsessive but there is always a reason for such obsession. It’s hard for mothers to let go, to start living life for their own selves. That’s the film’s message. That for their own growth, parents need to loosen the strings tied to their children and just let life be. Eela (Kajol) is a talented singer married to copywriter husband Arun (Tota Roy Chowdhury). She’s the mother of a young son and looks poised for great things. But at around that time, a cousin’s death pushes Arun into a mid-life crisis. He decides to leave his wife and child to find himself. That means Eela has to fend for her son alone. She lets go of her singing career and opens a dabba business, and becomes increasingly possessive as her son grows up. The film rests on Kajol’s reliable shoulders. As Eela, she does everything that’s required for the film. She makes the years roll away as a frothy teenager in the first half and gets her expressions right as a Tiger Mom later on.