Kajol is undoubtedly one of the best actresses we have at present in the Hindi film industry, when she chooses to act that is. She has an uncanny ability to almost always rise above the script, is able to switch moods with consummate ease and breathe life into every scene she does.
Kajol was born on Agust 5, 1975 in Mumbai in a family having a long and distinguished association with Hindi cinema. Her paternal grandfather, S Mukherji, was a stalwart first at Bombay Talkies, then Filmistan and then at Filmalaya. Her paternal grandmother's brothers were the three Ganguly brothers - Ashok Kumar, Anoop Kumar and Kishore Kumar. Her paternal uncles Joy Mukherji and Deb Mukherji, were actors. Her maternal grandmother was the definitive Sita in the history of Hindi cinema, Shobana Samarth. Her maternal aunt was one of the greatest actresses Indian cinema has ever seen, Nutan. Her father, Shomu Mukherji, was a film producer while her mother, Tanuja, was an extremely popular heroine. Her cousins too, Rani Mukherji and Monish Behl, have done quite well for themselves.
Kajol did her schooling at St Joseph's Convent, Panchagani. She quit her education as she began getting offers to act and made her acting debut in a love story, Bekhudi (1992), directed by Rahul Rawail, who had launched star sons Kumar Gaurav and Sunny Deol with Love Story and Betaab (1983) respectively. Bekhudi was also to have introduced Saif Ali Khan opposite Kajol but due to problems between him and Rawail, starred Kamal Sadanah instead. The film flopped at the box office but reaction of critics and cinegoers towards Kajol was most enthusiastic. She was hailed as the best discovery since Raj Kapoor had introduced Dimple Kapadia in Bobby (1973).
Fortunately for Kajol, her next film Baazigar (1993) was a huge success at the box-office. Inspired by A Kiss Before Dying, Baazigar saw Shah Rukh Khan paired opposite Kajol for the first time. The pairing was electric and the two would create box office history each time they acted opposite each other. Baazigar, with Shah Rukh playing an anti-hero who cold bloodeldly murders Shilpa Shetty (all with typical Bollywood justifications of course!) was successful in no small measure due to Anu Malik's catchy music and Shah Rukh and Kajol's central performances. Kajol is absolutely brilliant in the film. Just see her in the scene when she is introduced to Shah Rukh. The expressions flitting across her face as we realize she is falling for him have to be seen to be believed.
The following year, 1994, was good for Kajol as she tasted box-office success with the Sabrina inspired Yeh Dillagi (1994) where she starred opposite Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan as the driver's daughter who becomes a successful model. She also got great reviews for Udhaar ki Zindagi even if the film flopped. In an amazing sequence in the film, Kajol renders complicated sanskrit shlokas all in a single take!
Kajol reached the very top with Aditya Chopra's Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge or DDLJ (1995) and Karan Arjun (1995), the two top grossing films of the year, both co-starring Shah Rukh. While she played the standard damsel-in-distress in Karan Arjun, Kajol deservedly went on to win her first Filmfare Award for Best Actress for DDLJ. She is absolutely spot on in the film as a 'Punjabi kudi' brought up traditionally in UK whose marriage is arranged to her stern father's friend's son in India and who falls in love with a loveable rogue she meets on a Eurorail trip, Shah Rukh. The film has successfully been running in Mumbai for well over 700 weeks in Mumbai!
Kajol's other films in this period (1995-6) are strangely her weakest ones and one wonders why she did them at all. Not only are the films largely abysmal, they make absolutely no demands on her as an actress and what's more made no waves at the box-office either. She had her compensation on the personal front though when she fell in love with her co-star of Hulchul (1995) and Gundaraj (1995), Ajay Devgan.
Gupt (1997) saw Kajol score heavily in a negative role playing a woman who gets rid of every obstacle in the way of her love for Bobby Deol. She went on to win the Filmfare Award for Best Villain for her psycho act. The year also brought box office success for her pairing with Ajay Devgan as Indra Kumar's Ishq did extremely well at the box office.
But if 1997 was a good year for Kajol, 1998 was even better. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Karan Johar's directorial debut, brought Kajol her third Filmfare Award and second for Best Actress and proved she was one of the best if not the best actress in the country. The film looks at best friends Shah Rukh and tomboy Kajol who drift apart when he falls for Rani Mukherji, leaving Kajol's love for him unrequited. Eight years after Rani dies in childbirth, the two meet again when she is engaged and all sort to marry Salman...Kajol acquits herself extremely well in the film in both her tomboyish avatar as well her ladylike transformation years later. She is particularly astounding in the scene where Shah Rukh and her meet after years and are extremely awkward with each other. Thankfully Karan Johar takes the entire action a single, long take to capture every moment of the awkwardness of two best friends meeting after years and it is to Shah Rukh and Kajol's credit that they sustain their level of performance in such a long take. Dushman (1998) saw Kajol successfully play her first double role, two twin sisters - one shy and demure, the other a fun loving, boisterous tomboy. The film remains Tanuja Chandra's best film even if it is flawed in that ultimately after Sanjay Dutt teaches the demure sister to fight her own battles and go after her sister's killer, she hes to depend on him to finally rescue her in the end. And though the film flopped, Kajol was as usual highly appreciated. And as a bonus for Kajol, Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya (1998) with Salman Khan and Pyar Ho Hona Hi Tha (1998), a remake of French Kiss and possibly her best pairing with Ajay Devgan, were extremely successful at the box office.
Kajol married Ajay Devgan in 1999 and since cut down on her assigments. The loss was Hindi cinema's even as she effortlessly sailed through another double role in Rahul Rawail's take on Parent Trap, Kuch Khati Kuch Meethi (2001) and played a typical Chandni Chowk Punjabi girl in Karan Johar's Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham or K3G (2001). K3G won Kajol her Fourth Filmfare Award and Third for Best Actress. Though Kajol has played her chatterbox 'Punjabi kudi' way way over the top, she proves in her more serious moments what a magical performer she is, often conveying more with just a look or a glance than most actresses can with reams of dialogue to support them.
Post K3G Kajol took a self-imposed exile, giving birth to daughter Nysa in 2003. She did do a friendly appearance in the song Mahi Wey in friend Karan Johar's production Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003) though and was seen in commercials mainly for Videocon and Tata Indicom.
Kajol came back to Hindi cinema with the Yashraj offering Fanaa (2006), pairing her for the first time with Aamir Khan. In Fanaa, Zooni (Kajol), a blind Kashmiri girl meets Rehan (Aamir Khan), a local tour guide and also an incorrigible flirt in Delhi. Her friends warn her against him but she chooses to ignore them and falls in love with him. Rehan too is fascinated by Zooni. Zooni wants to spend her last 12 hours in Delhi with him. Rehan promises her that these 12 hours will be the most precious in her life. Through Rehan, Zooni 'sees' Delhi. They decide to marry. Zooni is taken for an eye operation which is successful. However there is a terrorist attack in Delhi and Rehan is thought to be dead... Sadly, the film is a major disappointment, its only saving grace being the two central star perofrmances. Kajol, in fact, is the life of the film. She is spot on in every scene in the film. See her in the scene in the morgue where she has to identify Rehan's body or 7 years later where she turns on him for making her live with the guilt that she was responsible for his death. The film won Kajol yet another Filmfare Award for Best Actress.
The last films Kajol has done include husband Ajay Devgn's directorial debut, U Me aur Hum (2008), where she efficiently enough played a woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease, Karan Johar's My Name is Khan (2010) opposite Shah Rukh Khan and the Karan Johar Production We are Family, an official re-make of Stepmom.