Profileमनिषा कोइराला, born on August 16, 1970 in Kathmandu, Nepal, is an award-winning prominent Bollywood actress, UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador and social activist. She is also an accomplished Bharatnatyam and Manipuri dancer.
Making her acting debut in the Nepali movie Pheri Bhetaula (1989), Koirala made her acting debut in Bollywood with Subhash Ghai's top grossing drama Saudagar (1991). She was among the most popular actresses of the 90s, and turned to be one of the most versatile actresses of her generation, working with some of the most prominent film directors of her times.
During her years in Bollywood, Koirala mostly ventured into serious and realistic cinema, rather than commercial one, and has been frequently praised for her performances. Though most of her films have not done well at the box office but her niche as an actor remains unharmed irrespective of box office collections. Today, she is considered to be one of the finest actresses in the Indian industry.
Her first film was Pheri Bhetaula (We shall meet again), a Nepali movie released in early 1989. Her first Hindi movie was Subhash Ghai's Saudagar in 1991. The film proved to be a good beginning, as it was the biggest hit of the year. After that, she went on to work with some of the most prominent film directors of Bollywood.
She went on to star in many critically and commercially successful films such as Vidhu Vinod Chopra's 1942: A Love Story (1994) and Mani Ratnam's Tamil film Bombay (1995). Her performance in the latter was critically appreciated and won her the Filmfare Best Performer Award. She was also seen in more commercial films. Her role as a reigning star in Mansoor Khan's romantic musical Akele Hum Akele Tum (1995) opposite Aamir Khan earned her a Filmfare nomination for Best Actress.
1996 was her year with her films Agni Sakshi doing well at the box office and her highly acclaimed performance in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's directional debut Khamoshi: The Musical, where she played a daughter to deaf parents. She won her second successive Filmfare Best Performer Award and a Star Screen Award for Best Actress for her performance in Khamoshi.
One year later in 1997, she played the leading role alongside Kajol and Bobby Deol in the thriller Gupt: The Hidden Truth, which was one of the biggest hits of the year.
Manisha Koirala from Gupt: The Hidden Truth (1997)She went to collaborate once again with Mani Ratnam, and starred in his award-winning film Dil Se (1998) opposite Shahrukh Khan. Her role received similar good reviews, and earned her various award nominations. Despite performing poorly at the box office in India, the film proved to be a hit overseas.
Since then, she has been part of several critically and commercially successful projects. in 1999, she starred in the moderately successful Kachche Dhaage (1999), which was followed by six more releases, the most notable of them being Indra Kumar's drama Mann. She played the role of a traffic accident victim in the film, which entered into the top five highest grossing films of the year. Her performance in the film won her favorable reviews. Film critic M. Ali Ikram wrote about her performance, "If there is respite for Manisha's innumerable fans of late, this flick is it. We may not care about hits and flops, but it is painful to watch this acting virtuoso in the innumerable side roles she has been seen in of late. Indra Kumar's decision to cast Manisha here, is a case of perfect casting, and she never lets him or the audience down. This lady is truly the Meena Kumari of her generation. It is great fun watching Manisha and Aamir [Khan]'s perfect chemistry opposite one another. The film's climax has both stars permanently molding a spot for themselves in Bollywood history, and it will have you shedding tears by the bucketful."
In 2001, she played the leading role in Rajkumar Santoshi's drama Lajja along with an ensemble cast that included Rekha, Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit and Jackie Shroff. The film received a good reception from critics and Koirala's performance was particularly praised. She next starred in the drama Grahan, and her portrayal of a rape victim who quests for justice was much appreciated as well.
In 2002, she starred opposite Ajay Devgan in Ram Gopal Verma's Company. The film was critically acclaimed, as well as Koirala's performance in it, and she won her third Filmfare Best Performer Award. Critic Alok Kumar wrote about her performance, "Manisha Koirala has yet another solid performance to add to her already overflowing portfolio of excellent roles. She has proved herself once again with a powerful and sensitive performance. She holds her own in every scene she's in and is amazing in her emotional scenes, displaying confidence and maturity. Her new look suits her well. Here's a girl who can really act."
After years of success, in 2003 Koirala left the mainstream cinema. She was seen in several low budget films, yet not less challenging roles. She ventured into strong woman-oriented films in 2003, such as Escape From Taliban which won her the BFJA Best Actress Award. She then played the main protagonist in the movie Market where she enacted a role of a prostitute, portraying a whole life story.
After receiving a diploma in filmmaking, she produced the small-budget caper-comedy Paisa Vasool (2004) in which she starred along with Sushmita Sen and was directed by Srinivas Bhashyam; this was probably the first ever chick-flick in Indian cinema in that it did not have a male lead nor a love story.
Overall, Koirala starred as the leading role in 6 high-budget, successful Tamil movies: Bombay (1994) co-starring Arvind Swamy, Indian (1996) co-starring Kamal Hassan, Mudhalvan (1999) co-starring Arjun, Aalavandhan (2001) co-starring Kamal Hassan, Baba (2002) co-starring Rajnikanth and Mumbai Express (2005) co-starring Kamal Hassan.
Since then, She has appeared in various unsuccessful films, some of which being well received by critics, such as the thriller Tum - A Dangerous Obsession (2005), and the horror film Anjaane - The Unknown (2006).
Her last release was Anwar in 2007. She has completed the shooting for Rituparno Ghosh's film Khela, and is set to star in Deepa Mehta's patriotic foreign film Exclusion alongside John Abraham.
Udit Narayan Jha