Born in: Kathmandu, Nepal
Career: Actress, UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador, Social Activist
Manisha Koirala is a Bollywood actress, who was one of the most known faces of the film industry in the 1990s. She is also a social activist and is presently serving as a UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador. An accomplished Bharatnatyam and Manipuri dancer, Koirala made her debut in acting with a Nepali movie ‘Pheri Bhetaula’ (1989). Two years later, she was seen debuting in Bollywood, with Subhash Ghai's high grossing movie ‘Saudagar’ (1991). She is mainly known for her critically acclaimed performances, like the ones in movies ‘1942: A Love Story’, ‘Khamoshi’, ‘Bombay’ and ‘Lajja’.
Childhood and Early Life
Manisha Koirala was born on 16th August 1970, in Kathmandu, Nepal. She was born into Koirala family, a politically prominent Hindu family of Nepal. Her grandfather was Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala, the Prime Minister of Nepal during the late 50s-early 60s. Even her uncles Girija Prasad Koirala and MP Koirala are involved in politics, with the former being the acting head of the country presently. She studied at Army Public School, New Delhi and Vasant Kanya Mahavidhyalaya (VKM), Varanasi. While studying in Varanasi, Koirala stayed with her grandmother.
Manisha Koirala made her debut in the arena of acting, in 1989, with a Nepali movie, ‘Pheri Bhetaula’ (We shall meet again). However, it was Bollywood that became her final destination. ‘Saudagar’, the 1991 movie by Subhash Ghai, served as the launching pad for the talented actress. It went on to become one of the biggest hits of the year. The following years, she was seen in a number of uneventful movies, like ‘Yalgaar’, ‘Insaaniyat Ke Devta’, ‘Anmol,’ ‘Dhanwan’ and ‘Yun Hi Kabhi’.
It was in the year 1994 that Koirala again reached the pinnacle of success, with the release of Vinod Chopra's love saga ‘1942: A Love Story’ (1994). The following year, she starred in Mani Ratnam's Tamil drama ‘Bombay’ (1995), which was also dubbed in Hindi. The movie established her as a serious actress and won her the applause of critics. She also won the first Filmfare Award of her career, for Best Performer, for the movie. Mansoor Khan's romantic musical ‘Akele Hum Akele Tum’ (1995) was another one of her hit movies.
‘Akele Hum Akele Tum’ won her a Filmfare nomination for Best Actress. 1996 served as one of the most successful years of Koirala’s career. She was seen in Agnisakshi, which became one of the biggest hits of that year. Thereafter, she performed the role of Annie, a compassionate daughter of deaf parents, in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's directorial debut, ‘Khamoshi: The Musical’. Khamoshi helped her bag second, consecutive Filmfare Best Performer Award, apart from a Star Screen Award for Best Actress.
The year 1997 also saw Koirala being a part of a hit grosser, ‘Gupt: The Hidden Truth’, in which she played the leading role, along with Kajol and Bobby Deol. In 1998, she paired with Mani Ratnam once again and starred in the award-winning film ‘Dil Se’, in which she was paired opposite Shahrukh Khan. Though she was applauded by critics and also won a number of nominations, the film failed to create magic at the box office. However, ‘Dil Se’ did prove to be a hit in the overseas market.
In 1999, Koirala played the lead role in a number of films, including the reasonably successful ‘Kachche Dhaage’. The same year, she was also seen in Indra Kumar's film ‘Mann’, one of the top five highest grossing films of the year, which earned her some rave reviews. Rajkumar Santoshi's film ‘Lajja’ (2001) was the next major film starring Koirala, along with Rekha, Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit and Jackie Shroff. Though it was not a box office hit, all the actors received extremely good reviews.
The same year, she also did ‘Grahan’, performing the role of a rape victim fighting for justice. Ram Gopal Verma's ‘Company’ was the film in which she was seen the following year. Her performance in the movie was highly praised and won her the third Filmfare Best Performer Award. Koirala bid adieu to the mainstream cinema in 2003 and thereafter, she was seen in a number of low budget films. However, none of them had a role that was not challenging, in terms of acting.
In 2003, Koirala was seen in a woman-oriented film ‘Escape From Taliban’, for which she bagged Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards for Best Actress. Her role, of a prostitute, in the movie ‘Market’ showed her forte in sensitive roles. In 2004, she went to New York and did a diploma in filmmaking. After coming back, she produced the small-budget caper-comedy Paisa Vasool (2004). Though not successful, the film was the first one ever in Indian cinema that neither had a male protagonist nor a love story.
‘Tum - A Dangerous Obsession’ (2005), and the horror film ‘Anjaane - The Unknown’ (2006) are some other low budget movies that starred Koirala. In 2007, she was seen in a single film ‘Anwar’, in which she played a supporting role. In 2008, she made a comeback, in a leading role, in ‘Tulsi’, opposite Irrfan Khan. The movie got her good reviews. Her last releases were ‘Sirf’, ‘Mehbooba’ and Rituparno Ghosh's film ‘Khela’.
South Indian Movies
Koirala has also acted in a number of Tamil and Telugu movies, some of which went on to become high grossers. Amongst her most successful Tamil movies are ‘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. She continues to be admired in the South, for her excellent performances.
Apart from entertaining the masses, Manisha Koirala has involved herself in social work too. She was appointed as a UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador in September 1999. Since then, she has been actively supporting a number of social causes. These include working with organizations to promote women’s rights, prevention of violence against women, and prevention of the human trafficking of Nepali girls for prostitution.
1996 - Filmfare Critics Award for Best Performance, Bombay
1997 - Filmfare Critics Award for Best Performance, Khamoshi: The Musical
1997 - Star Screen Award for Best Actress, Khamoshi: The Musical
2003 - Filmfare Critics Award for Best Performance, Company
2004 - Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards for Best Actress, Escape From Taliban
1989 - Pheri Bhetaula (Nepali film)
1991 - First Love Letter, Saudagar
1992 - Yalgaar
1993 - Insaaniyat Ke Devta, Anmol, Dhanwan
1994 - Yun Hi Kabhi, 1942: A Love Story, Sangdil Sanam
1995 - Bombay (Tamil film), Anokha Andaz, Milan, Criminal (Telugu film), Guddu, Ram Shastra, Akele Hum Akele Tum
1996 - Dushmani, Agnisakshi, Yeh Majhdhaar, Khamoshi: The Musical, Indian (Tamil film)
1997 - Sanam, Loha, Gupt: The Hidden Truth, Dil Ke Jharokhe Mein
1998 - Yugpurush, Achanak, Dil Se, Maharaja
1999 - Kachche Dhaage, Lal Baadshah, Laawaris, Jaihind, Mudhalvan Thenmozhi (Tamil film), Kartoos, Mann, Hindustan Ki Kasam
2000 - Champion, Khauff, Baaghi, Raja Ko Rani Se Pyar Ho Gaya
2001 - Grahan, Chhupa Rustam, Lajja, Aalavandhan (Tamil film), Moksha
2002 - Company, Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani, Ek Chotisi Love Story, Baba (Tamil film)
2003 - Escape From Taliban, Calcutta Mail, Market
2004 - Paisa Vasool, Tum - A Dangerous Obsession
2005 - Chaahat - Ek Nasha, Mumbai Express (Tamil film), Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story Princess
2006 - Anjaane - The Unknown, Darwaza Bandh Rakho
2007 - Anwar
2008 - Tulsi, Sirf, Mehbooba, Khela (Bengali film), God Tussi Great Ho Sheetal (to be released), Exclusion (in production)