Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar Raja Sen in Mumbai
It's been ten years since we watchers of Hindi cinema were introduced to Kareena Kapoor.
She's always had tremendous pressure on her pretty shoulders, coming from the family with the biggest legacy in Indian film history. And she's carried it strongly, she has.
Her initial films showed sparks of genuine talent, even though a lot of her starring roles have been forgettable. A look at her filmography now, however, would show more a more thoughtful selection of roles, roles playing to her strengths.
Here then, to celebrate ten years of watching Kareena Kapoor, are her highlights, thus far:
J P Dutta's 2000 film was a most unlikely star vehicle. While it was massively hyped for introducing Amitabh Bachchan's son Abhishek and Randhir Kapoor's daughter Kareena, the film showed them both in restrained vein.
Kapoor's melancholic eyes showed off an actress with potential, even if the film didn't entirely tap into it.
Controversies about historical accuracy notwithstanding, it was undebatable that Kareena wowed us all with her striking warrior princess look.
Not since the days of Sharmila Tagore's elaborate mascara-work have eyes looked this compelling, and Kareena went a step further by making waterfalls sexy again.
And she looked stunning on horseback. Wow.
Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham
Sure, it's a gag role. And sure, it's significantly derivative of Alicia Silverstone in Clueless.
Still, it takes serious cojones to take up a caricatured blonde role like Poo.
Especially in a melodramatic Karan Johar multistarrer. Kapoor pulled it off, stupid strut and sunglasses in place, and -- despite the character occasionally getting on our nerves -- showed off very impressive confidence.
Sudhir Mishra's Chameli was a South Bombay fable, the story of sparks flying between two strangers during some fleeting time spent together.
The titular heroine, a sassy prostitute, is a demanding role, and Kapoor works it very strongly, carrying the film.
Her Chameli is street-hardened and savvy, and yet enchantingly, irresistibly electric.
Vishal Bhardwaj's adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello made headlines as each cast member came aboard, and none more perplexing than Kareena Kapoor as Desdemona.
Yet her Dolly Mishra was a stunning, perfect fit -- and not just because of her luminous, alabaster skin.
Kapoor was vulnerable and knee-weakeningly romantic, acted perfectly and has never looked more beautiful.
Helen's Yeh Mera Dil in Don
Like Amitabh Bachchan, Helen is one of those Bollywood icons you just shouldn't mess with.
And while Farhan Akhtar cast Shah Rukh Khan in Bachchan's role, he turned to Kapoor to fill Helen's dancing shoes.
It was a tall order but Kareena -- chosen by Akhtar because of her incapability to look vulgar -- shimmied the light fantastic pretty good.
Jab We Met
As cinematic chatterboxes go, this Geet is Basanti-brand good.
Kapoor rattles off conversation with glorious rapidity in Imtiaz Ali's film, talk unspooling ceaselessly out of her without bothering about irritation.
Shahid Kapoor does well to play the sober one, while Kareena's Geet is song sung at ear-splitting volume. It might be frequently off-key, but it's hard not to get swept along by it.
Opening up about actor relationships
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar
Indian actors and actresses prefer to leave everything to speculation, tabloids joyously pairing people up based on equal parts fact and hearsay.
Kapoor brought in a more mature media-acceptance, openly letting the media and public in on the fact that she and Shahid Kapoor were together, had broken up, and that she'd moved on to Saif Ali Khan -- who, in turn, got her name tattooed on his royal forearm.
The lack of subterfuge automatically makes her easier to respect than most of her contemporaries.
Indian women have always been all about the curves, but so dramatically did Kareena Kapoor slim down to wear a bikini in Tashan that her 'size zero' made newspaper headlines and the actress was left ducking accusations of anorexia.
The film flopped and several actresses have looked better in a bikini, but nobody quite caused the hoo-ha of that memorably skinny outing.
The biggest hit of all time
Aamir Khan might have played the lead in Rajkumar Hirani's record-breaking 3 Idiots, but the finest performance in the film comes from Kareena Kapoor as the principal's plucky yet perplexed daughter.
Her easily misguided Pia is the only character we could well have seen more of, peaking with the priceless scene where she drunkenly visits Aamir's Rancho. An endearing performance.