Rare vintage photos of legendary Indian actor Kareena Kapoor
Kareena Kapoor Khan is an Indian actress who appears in Hindi films. She is the daughter of actors Randhir Kapoor and Babita, and the younger sister of actress Karisma Kapoor.
Kareena Kapoor Biography
Kareena Kapoor Khan ( born 21 September 1980) is an Indian actress who appears in Hindi films. She is the daughter of actors Randhir Kapoor and Babita, and the younger sister of actress Karisma Kapoor. Noted for playing a variety of characters in a range of film genres—from romantic comedies to crime dramas—Kapoor is the recipient of several awards, including six Filmfare Awards, and is one of Bollywood's most popular and highest-paid actresses.
After making her acting debut in the 2000 war film Refugee, Kapoor established herself with roles in the historical drama Aśoka and the melodrama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... (both 2001). This initial success was followed by a series of commercial failures and repetitive roles, which garnered her negative reviews. The year 2004 marked a turning point for Kapoor when she played against type in the role of a sex worker in the drama Chameli. She subsequentaly earned critical recognition for her portrayal of a riot victim in the 2004 drama Dev and a character based on William Shakespeare's heroine Desdemona in the 2006 crime film Omkara. Further praise came for her performances in the romantic comedy Jab We Met (2007), the thrillers Kurbaan (2009) and Talaash: The Answer Lies Within (2012), and the dramas We Are Family (2010), Heroine (2012) and Udta Punjab (2016). Her highest-grossing releases include the action film Singham Returns (2014), the comedy Good Newwz (2019), and the dramas 3 Idiots (2009), Bodyguard (2011) and Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015).
Married to actor Saif Ali Khan, with whom she has a son, Kapoor's off-screen life is the subject of widespread coverage in India. She has a reputation for being outspoken and assertive, and is recognised for her contributions to the film industry through her fashion style and film roles. In addition to film acting, Kapoor participates in stage shows, hosts a radio show and has contributed as a co-writer to three books: an autobiographical memoir and two nutrition guides. She has started her own line of clothing and cosmetics for women, and has worked with UNICEF since 2014 to advocate for the education of girls and an increase in quality based education in India.
Born on 21 September 1980 in Bombay (now Mumbai), Kapoor (often informally referred to as 'Bebo') is the younger daughter of Randhir Kapoor and Babita (née Shivdasani); her elder sister Karisma is also an actress. She is the paternal granddaughter of actor and filmmaker Raj Kapoor, maternal granddaughter of actor Hari Shivdasani, and niece of actor Rishi Kapoor. According to Kapoor, the name "Kareena" was derived from the book Anna Karenina, which her mother read while she was pregnant with her. She is of Punjabi descent on her father's side, and on her mother's side she is of Sindhi and British descent.
Describing herself as a "very naughty spoilt child", Kapoor's exposure to films from a young age kindled her interest in acting; she was particularly inspired by the work of actresses Nargis and Meena Kumari. Despite her family background, her father disapproved of women entering films because he believed it conflicted with the traditional maternal duties and responsibility of women in the family. This led to a conflict between her parents, and they separated. She was then raised by her mother, who worked several jobs to support her daughters until Karisma debuted as an actress in 1991. After living separately for several years, her parents reconciled in October 2007. Kapoor remarked, "My father is also an important factor in my life. Although we did not see him often in our initial years, we are a family now."
Kapoor attended Jamnabai Narsee School in Mumbai, followed by Welham Girls' School in Dehradun. She attended the institution primarily to satisfy her mother, though later admitted to liking the experience. According to Kapoor, she wasn't inclined towards academics though received good grades in all her classes except mathematics. Upon graduating from Welham, she returned to Mumbai and studied commerce for two years at Mithibai College. Kapoor then registered for a three-month summer course in microcomputers at Harvard Summer School in the United States. She later developed an interest in law, and enrolled at the Government Law College, Mumbai; during this period, she developed a long-lasting passion for reading. However, after completing her first year, she decided to pursue her interest in acting, though she later regretted not having completed her education. She began training at an acting institute in Mumbai mentored by Kishore Namit Kapoor, a member of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).
While training at the institute, Kapoor was cast as the lead in Rakesh Roshan's Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai (2000) opposite his son, Hrithik Roshan. Several days into the filming, however, she abandoned the project; Kapoor later explained that she had benefited by not doing the film since more prominence was given to the director's son. She debuted later that year alongside Abhishek Bachchan in J. P. Dutta's war drama Refugee. Set during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, Kapoor was introduced as Naaz, a Bangladeshi girl with whom Bachchan's character falls in love. Dutta cast her for the combination of youthfulness and innocence he found in her, and Kapoor considered their collaboration to be an important learning experience that helped her personally and professionally. Writing for the entertainment portal Bollywood Hungama, critic Taran Adarsh described Kapoor as "a natural performer" and noted "the ease with which she emotes the most difficult of scenes", and India Today reported that she belonged to a new breed of Hindi film actors that breaks away from character stereotypes. Refugee was a moderate box-office success in India and Kapoor's performance earned her the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut.
For her second release, Kapoor was paired opposite Tusshar Kapoor in Satish Kaushik's box-office hit Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai (2001). A review in The Hindu noted that based on her first two films, she was "definitely the actress to watch out for". She next starred alongside Jackie Shroff and Hrithik Roshan in Subhash Ghai's flop Yaadein, followed by Abbas-Mustan's moderately successful thriller Ajnabee, co-starring Akshay Kumar, Bobby Deol and Bipasha Basu. Later that year, she appeared in Santosh Sivan's period epic Aśoka, a partly fictionalised account of the life of the Indian emperor of the same name. Featured opposite Shah Rukh Khan, Kapoor found herself challenged playing the complex personality of her character Kaurwaki (a Kalingan princess) with whom Ashoka falls in love. Aśoka was screened at the Venice and 2001 Toronto International Film Festivals, and received generally positive reviews internationally but failed to do well in India, which was attributed by critics to the way Ashoka was portrayed. Jeff Vice of The Deseret News described Kapoor as "riveting" and commended her screen presence. Rediff.com, however, was more critical concluding that her presence in the film was primarily used for aesthetic purposes. At the 47th Filmfare Awards, Aśoka was nominated for five awards including a Best Actress nomination for Kapoor.
A key point in Kapoor's career came when she was cast by Karan Johar as Pooja ("Poo", a good-natured, superficial girl) in the 2001 melodrama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... alongside an ensemble cast. She found little resemblance between herself and her "over-the-top" character, and modeled Poo's personality on that of Johar. Filming the big-budget production was a new experience for Kapoor, and she recalls it fondly: "It was great fun doing the film and we had a blast. Working with the unit and the six mega star set was a dream come true." Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... was an immensely popular release, finishing as India's second highest-grossing film of the year and Kapoor's highest-grossing film to that point. It also became one of the biggest Bollywood success of all time in the overseas market, earning over ₹1 billion (US$14 million) worldwide. Taran Adarsh described Kapoor as "one of the main highlights of the film", and she received her second Filmfare nomination for the role—her first for Best Supporting Actress—as well as nominations at the International Indian Academy (IIFA) and Screen Awards.
Box Office India reported that the success of Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... established Kapoor as a leading actress of Hindi cinema, and Rediff.com published that with Aśoka she had become the highest-paid Indian actress to that point earning ₹15 million (US$210,000) per film. During 2002 and 2003, Kapoor continued to work in a number of projects but experienced a setback. All six films in which she starred—Mujhse Dosti Karoge!, Jeena Sirf Merre Liye, Talaash: The Hunt Begins..., Khushi, Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon, and the four-hour war epic LOC Kargil—were critically and commercially unsuccessful. Critics described her performances in these films as "variations of the same character" she played in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham..., and expressed concern that she was becoming typecast. She later spoke positively of this period, recalling it as a beneficial lesson which taught her to "work harder and change things", and has confessed to accepting these roles for financial gain rather than artistic merit.
By 2004, Kapoor was keen on broadening her range as an actress and thus decided to portray more challenging roles in addition to the archetypical glamorous lead. Under the direction of Sudhir Mishra, Kapoor played the role of a golden-hearted prostitute in Chameli, a film relating the story of a young prostitute who meets with a widowed investment banker (played by Rahul Bose). When Kapoor was first offered the part, she passed on it, explaining that she would be uncomfortable in the role. She relented when Mishra approached her for the second time, and in preparation for the role, visited several of Mumbai's red-light districts at night to study the mannerisms of sex workers and the way they dressed. With a production budget of ₹20 million (US$280,000), the independent film marked a departure from the high-profile productions Kapoor previously starred in, and she described the part as an attempt to shed her "glossy image" and "satisfy my creativity". Indiatimes praised her "intuitive brilliance" and stated that she had exceeded all expectations. Rediff.com, however, found her portrayal unconvincing and excessively stereotypical, describing her as "sounding more like a teenager playacting than a brash, hardened streetwalker" and comparing her mannerisms to a caricature. Chameli marked a significant turning point in Kapoor's career and she received a special jury recognition at the 49th Filmfare Awards.
Kapoor next co-starred in Mani Ratnam's Yuva, a composite film with an ensemble cast, about three youngsters from different strata of society whose lives intersect by a car accident; she featured as Vivek Oberoi's romantic interest (Meera, a witty young woman). She has said that despite not having "much of a role", she agreed to the project due to her desire to work with Ratnam. Film critic Subhash K. Jha from The Times of India concurred that her role was insubstantial, but further stated that Kapoor uses her "character traits to her ... advantage to create a girl who is at once enigmatic and all-there". She then appeared alongside Amitabh Bachchan and Fardeen Khan in Govind Nihalani's critically acclaimed film Dev, which revolved around the 2002 Hindu-Muslim riots in the Indian state of Gujarat. Kapoor starred as a Muslim victim named Aaliya and sang a song for the film's soundtrack—"Jab Nahin Aaye The". Nihalani was initially hesitant to cast a mainstream commercial actress but found that Kapoor displayed a level of intelligence and sensitivity beyond her years. She was keen to work with him, as his films Ardh Satya (1983) and Tamas (1988) gave her a deeper appreciation for cinema, and identified with her character's ability to be "strong yet simple and docile". It earned her a Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress and nominations for Best Actress at various award ceremonies. Taran Adarsh described her as "first-rate" and in particular noted her scene with Bachchan's character.
Shortly afterwards, Kapoor was cast for the first time as a villain in Fida, a thriller about an online heist. Although the film was unsuccessful at the box office, Kapoor received positive reviews for her performance, and some critics noted a distinct progression from her earlier roles. That same year, she starred in Abbas-Mustan's thriller Aitraaz and Priyadarshan's comedy Hulchul. Aitraaz follows the story of a man (played by Akshay Kumar) accused of sexual harassment by his female superior (played by Priyanka Chopra). Kapoor stated that she was offered Chopra's part, but decided to play Kumar's wife, knowing that Indian women would better identify with her character. The film was a moderate success, and Jitesh Pillai of The Times of India found Kapoor to have a small role, but noted that she "shines through brightly earning her big moment in the courtroom sequence". Meanwhile, Hulchul became Kapoor's first commercial success in three years.
Kapoor followed her success in Hulchul by starring as the protagonist of the 2005 drama Bewafaa. The feature received mostly negative reviews, and Nikhat Kazmi of Indiatimes believed that to become a serious actress Kapoor was embodying a maturer, more-jaded character beyond her years in Bewafaa. Her final two releases of the year included the romantic dramas Kyon Ki and Dosti: Friends Forever, both of which underperformed at the box office. In her next two releases—the thriller 36 China Town and the comedy Chup Chup Ke (both 2006)—she starred opposite Shahid Kapoor. 36 China Town was a commercial success and Chup Chup Ke performed moderately well.
The filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj saw Kapoor in Yuva, and was sufficiently impressed to cast her in his next project: Omkara, an adaptation of William Shakespeare's tragedy Othello set against the backdrop of the political system in Uttar Pradesh. Kapoor featured as Desdemona and was challenged on portraying the character's inner turmoil, which she believed was much more subtle and subdued. She subsequently attended several script-reading sessions with the entire cast, and described the project as "truly, truly special and one of the best roles an actor could ask for." Omkara premiered at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival and was screened at the Cairo International Film Festival. It was received positively by critics, and Kapoor's portrayal earned her a fourth Filmfare Award and first Screen Award. In a 2010 retrospective of the "Top 80 Iconic Performances" of Hindi cinema, Filmfare wrote that she was "brilliant" and praised her ability to "effortlessly" convey the various emotions her character went through. Kapoor considered her role in Omkara as a "new benchmark" in her career, and compared her portrayal of Dolly with her own evolving maturity as a woman. Later that year, she appeared briefly in one of the year's biggest hits, the Farhan Akhtar action-thriller Don (a remake of the 1978 film of the same name).
Kapoor next teamed with Shahid Kapoor for the fourth time in the romantic comedy Jab We Met (2007), in which she portrayed Geet Dhillon, a vivacious Sikh girl with a zest for life. Director Imtiaz Ali was not a well-known figure before its production, with only one feature credit to his name, but Kapoor agreed to the film after being fascinated with his "mind-blowing" script. She collaborated closely with Ali to build her character and was challenged on effectively portraying Dhillon's exuberant personality without making it caricaturish. Jab We Met was received favourably by critics and became successful at the box office with global earnings of ₹509 million (US$7.1 million) against a budget of ₹150 million (US$2.1 million). Jaspreet Pandohar of the BBC commented that the role required a mixture of naivety and spontaneity, and was impressed with Kapoor's effort. The critic Rajeev Masand labelled her the film's "biggest strength, as she brings alive her character with not just those smart lines, but with the kind of candor actors seldom invest in their work." Kapoor considers it to be a favourite among her roles and won several awards for her performance, including her second Screen Award and the Filmfare Award for Best Actress. While shooting for Jab We Met, Kapoor and Shahid ended their four-year relationship. When asked by Mumbai Mirror, she stated "I hold him in utmost regard, and I hope one day we could be good friends. He is a great guy."
The following year, Kapoor co-starred in Vijay Krishna Acharya's action-thriller Tashan, where she met her future husband in actor Saif Ali Khan. Although a poll (conducted by Bollywood Hungama) named it the most anticipated release of the year, the film underperformed at the box office. After providing her voice for the character of Laila, the love interest of a street dog named Romeo, in the Yash Raj Films and Walt Disney Pictures animated film Roadside Romeo, Kapoor played a mistrustful wife who believed her husband was unfaithful in Rohit Shetty's comedy Golmaal Returns. A sequel to the 2006 film Golmaal: Fun Unlimited, the film had an ambivalent reception from critics, and Kapoor received mixed reviews. The Indian Express believed the screenplay was derivative, concluding: "There is nothing particularly new about a suspicious wife keeping tabs on her husband, and there is nothing particularly new in the way Kareena plays it." Golmaal Returns was a financial success with global revenues of ₹793 million (US$11 million).
In 2009, Kapoor was cast as Simrita Rai (a surgeon who moonlights as a model) in Sabbir Khan's battle-of-the-sexes comedy Kambakkht Ishq, opposite Akshay Kumar. Set in Los Angeles, it was the first Indian film to be shot at Universal Studios and featured cameo appearances by Hollywood actors. The film was poorly received by critics but became an economic success, earning over ₹840 million (US$12 million) worldwide; a review in Times of India described Kapoor's performance as "a complete let-down" and "unconvincing". The box-office flop Main Aurr Mrs Khanna came next, following which she played the leading lady in the dramatic thriller Kurbaan, alongside Saif Ali Khan and Vivek Oberoi. The film (which marked the directorial debut of Rensil D'Silva) featured Kapoor as Avantika Ahuja, a woman who is confined to house arrest after discovering that her husband is a terrorist. Describing the film as "an emotionally draining experience", Kapoor explained that it was difficult to disconnect from her character. The film was critically praised, and Kapoor received her fourth Filmfare Best Actress nomination. Gaurav Malani of The Economic Times commented that after a long time the actress was given "a role of substance that brings her performing potential to the fore", while Subhash K. Jha described it as her "most consistently pitched performance to date" played "with splendid sensitivity" and "credibility".
Kapoor's second Filmfare nomination that year came for Rajkumar Hirani's National Film Award-winning 3 Idiots, a film loosely based on the novel Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat. Co-starring alongside Aamir Khan, R. Madhavan and Sharman Joshi, Kapoor played Pia (a medical student and Khan's love interest). Several actresses were considered for the role, though Kapoor was eventually cast under the recommendation of Khan. The film received critical acclaim and emerged as the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time up until then, grossing ₹2.03 billion (US$28 million) in India. It also did well internationally, earning over ₹1.08 billion (US$15 million), the second biggest Bollywood success ever in the overseas market. The Deccan Herald opined that Kapoor "brings a dollop of sunshine and feminine grace to an otherwise masculine tale. She is so spunky and spontaneous you wish there was room for more of her." 3 Idiots received several Best Movie recognitions at major Indian award functions, and Kapoor was awarded the IIFA Award for Best Actress, among others.
Kapoor began the new decade with a leading role opposite Shahid Kapoor in the romantic comedy Milenge Milenge (2010), a production delayed since 2005. The feature garnered poor box-office returns and Rajeev Masand found the film to be "extremely outdated" with stereotypical characters. A supporting role in Siddharth Malhotra's We Are Family, an official adaptation of the Hollywood tearjerker Stepmom (1998), proved more rewarding. In an attempt to bring her interpretation to the part originally played by Julia Roberts, Kapoor refrained from watching Stepmom again and was drawn to the complexity of her character. Moreover, she spoke positively of her rapport with Kajol, noting the rarity of two leading ladies within the same Hindi film. Priyanka Roy of The Telegraph criticised the movie for being "superficial and unnecessarily melodramatic", but praised Kapoor for "breathing life and a new-found maturity into what is largely a uni-dimensional character". We Are Family emerged a moderate success and Kapoor was awarded the Best Supporting Actress at the 56th Filmfare Awards. At the end of the year, she reunited with director Rohit Shetty for Golmaal 3, a sequel to Golmaal Returns. Like its predecessor, the film received mixed reviews but earned more than ₹1 billion (US$14 million) domestically. For her portrayal of the tomboy Daboo, Kapoor received Best Actress nominations at various award ceremonies including Filmfare.
Further success came to Kapoor in 2011 when she starred as the love interest of Salman Khan's character in the romantic drama Bodyguard, a remake of the 2010 Malayalam film of the same name. The film was not well received by critics, though became a financial success, with a domestic total of ₹1.4 billion (US$20 million)—India's highest-earning film of the year. A review in Mint dismissed Kapoor's role as the "sacrificial, ornamental and submissive female"; Mid Day referred to her as "bright", arguing that she "actually manages to bring her caricature of a role alive". She next appeared in Anubhav Sinha's science fiction film Ra.One with Shah Rukh Khan and Arjun Rampal. Made on a budget of ₹1.5 billion (US$21 million)—India's most expensive film at the time—the film follows the story of a London-based videogame designer creating a villainous character who escapes into the real world. Despite negative media coverage of the film's box office performance, Ra.One became one of the biggest earners of the year with a worldwide total of over ₹2.4 billion (US$34 million), and Kapoor's fourth major commercial success in three consecutive years.
Kapoor followed her success in Bodyguard and Ra.One with a role in Shakun Batra's directorial debut Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (2012) opposite Imran Khan. Set in Las Vegas, the romantic comedy follows the story of two strangers who get married one night after getting drunk. She played Riana Braganza, a carefree young woman, and was particularly drawn to the qualities of her character: "Riana knows what she is doing. Even though she does not have a house or a job, she is a positive person very similar to the way I am." The film received positive reviews and was an economic success, grossing a total of ₹530 million (US$7.4 million) in India and abroad. The Hollywood Reporter found her "endearingly natural"; Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com asserted that "after doing ornamental roles in films like Bodyguard and Ra.One, it is nice to see the spunky actress in her element again since Jab We Met." She next appeared in Agent Vinod, an espionage thriller directed by Sriram Raghavan. Kapoor was enthusiastic about the project, but it met with a tepid response and she was described as miscast. When asked why she had taken the role, Kapoor described it as an opportunity to attempt something she had never done before.
For her next feature, Kapoor was cast as a fading movie star in Madhur Bhandarkar's Heroine, a drama revolving around the Bollywood film industry. She was initially skeptical about taking on the part as she felt that her character's personality was far removed from her own and worried about how people would perceive her. After her replacement (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) left the film due to her pregnancy, Kapoor was reapproached for the film, and she agreed after Bhandarkar enforced his faith in her. Although not a method actor, Kapoor believed that the intense role had left her on edge in her personal life and refrained from taking on any other projects. Reviewers found the film to be "drably monotonous", but noted that it was watchable primarily due to Kapoor's performance. Rajeev Masand described it as "a deliciously camp performance," played "with utmost sincerity". Bollywood Hungama opined that it was her best work to date and concluded that "though her character is inconsistent Kareena furnishes the heroine's character with a rare vulnerability and an exceptional inner life." At the annual Stardust Awards, Kapoor garnered the Editor's Choice for Best Actress, and received additional nominations at Filmfare, IIFA, Producers Guild, Screen and Stardust.
On 16 October 2012, Kapoor married actor Saif Ali Khan in a private ceremony in Bandra, Mumbai, and she gave birth to their son, Taimur, in 2016. Kapoor stated that despite adding Khan to her name she would continue practising Hinduism after marriage. Reema Kagti's psychological thriller, Talaash: The Answer Lies Within, in which she played the "tantalisingly seductive prostitute" Rosie, was Kapoor's final release of 2012. Co-starring alongside Aamir Khan and Rani Mukerji, the film is set against the backdrop of Mumbai's red-light districts and follows the travails of a police officer (Khan) who is assigned the duty of solving a mysterious car accident. Pratim D. Gupta of The Telegraph found Kapoor to be a standout among the ensemble, adding that "she brings an unseen mix of oomph and emotion that becomes the film's centrepiece". With global revenues of ₹1.74 billion (US$24 million), the film emerged as a box office hit, and earned Kapoor Best Actress nominations at the Screen, Stardust and Zee Cine award ceremonies.
In 2013, Kapoor collaborated with Ajay Devgn for the fourth time (alongside Amitabh Bachchan, Arjun Rampal, Manoj Bajpayee and Amrita Rao) in Prakash Jha's Satyagraha, an ensemble socio-political drama loosely inspired by social activist Anna Hazare's fight against corruption in 2011. The film received little praise from critics and underperformed at the box office earning ₹675 million (US$9.5 million) domestically. A review in the Daily News and Analysis noted that Kapoor's role as reporter Yasmin Ahmed was "limited to mouthing a few 'important' dialogues and being present in crucial scenes like any leading lady". Following an appearance in the poorly received romantic comedy Gori Tere Pyaar Mein (2013), Kapoor decreased her workload for the next two years to focus on her marriage and family. She took on smaller parts where she played the love-interest of Ajay Devgn in the action film Singham Returns (2014) and Salman Khan in the drama Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015). Singham Returns served as a sequel to the 2011 film Singham and Kapoor's role was written specifically for her by Rohit Shetty—the third time the pair collaborated. Reviews for the film were generally mixed with Kapoor being criticised for taking a role of minimal importance, but the film was a financial success with a revenue of over ₹1.4 billion (US$20 million). Kabir Khan's Bajrangi Bhaijaan emerged as India's highest-earning film of the year grossing a total of ₹3.20 billion (US$45 million).
In 2016, Kapoor took on a starring role opposite Arjun Kapoor in Ki & Ka, a romantic comedy about gender stereotypes from the writer-director R. Balki. She was cast as the ambitious and career-oriented Kia Bansal, and was particularly drawn to the project for its relevance and novel concept. Critics were divided in their opinion of the film, but it emerged a financial success grossing over ₹1 billion (US$14 million) worldwide. Meena Iyer of The Times of India mentioned Kapoor as "terrific" and Sukanya Verma considered the actress to be the film's prime asset noting her ease at "smoothly transitioning between fragile and volatile to reveal a woman comfortable in her own skin, unapologetic about living life on her terms and never missing an occasion to mince words."
Kapoor next played the role of Dr. Preet Sahni in Abhishek Chaubey's critically acclaimed Udta Punjab (2016), a crime drama that documents the substance abuse endemic in the Indian state of Punjab. Co-starring alongside Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Diljit Dosanjh, Kapoor was initially reluctant to do the film due to the length of her role, but agreed after having read the completed script and partially waived her fees to star in it. Udta Punjab generated controversy when the Central Board of Film Certification deemed that the film represented Punjab in a negative light and demanded extensive censorship before its theatrical release. The Bombay High Court later cleared the film for exhibition with one scene cut. Rediff.com stated that despite being "the narrative’s most conventional character," the film "greatly relies on her for warmth and virtue" and Mehul S. Thakkar of The Deccan Chronicle wrote that she was successful in "delivering a strong and hard hitting performance." For her performance, Kapoor received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the Filmfare and Zee Cine award ceremonies.
Following the birth of her child, Kapoor was persuaded by her husband to return to acting. She was keen to work on a project that would accommodate her parental commitments and found it in Shashanka Ghosh's Veere Di Wedding (2018), a female buddy film co-starring Sonam K Ahuja, Swara Bhaskar and Shikha Talsania. Initially approached for the project in 2016, the makers rewrote Kapoor's role to accommodate her pregnancy, but the lack of maternity insurance in India led filming to begin after she gave birth. She liked the idea of telling a "story of friendship and love through a female perspective", which she believed was rare in Hindi film, and was pleased to work with three other leading ladies. Anna M. M. Vetticad praised the film for portraying women with "agency, flaws, humanity and, above all, a sense of humour", and took note of Kapoor's "neatly restrained performance". With a worldwide gross of over ₹1.38 billion (US$19 million), Veere Di Wedding emerged as one of the highest-grossing female-led Hindi films.
A year later, Kapoor reteamed with Akshay Kumar in Good Newwz (2019), a comedy about two couples tryst with in vitro fertilisation. Reviewing the film for Mint, Udita Jhunjunwala wrote, "It’s hard to keep your eyes off Kapoor Khan and her performance as a working woman aching to have a baby draws you in further." For her performance, she received Best Actress nominations at Filmfare, IIFA and Zee Cine Awards. It earned over ₹3 billion (US$42 million) worldwide to emerge as the fifth highest-grossing Hindi film of the year. She next agreed to a supporting role in the comedy-drama Angrezi Medium (2020) alongside Irrfan Khan and Dimple Kapadia. A spiritual sequel to Hindi Medium, it marked Khan's final release, whom Kapoor deeply admired, before his death in April 2020. She explained her choice of this part as a deliberate attempt to move away from her comfort zone and filmed her role in 10 days while she was accompanying her husband on his film shoot in London. The feature released in India amid the COVID-19 pandemic and its commercial performance was affected due to the closing of the cinemas. Nandini Ramnath of Scroll.in commended her "ability to glitter in a handful of moments", but Vinayak Chakravorty for Outlook thought that the portions involving Kapoor were inessential to the story.
Kapoor will next team with Aamir Khan for the third time in Laal Singh Chaddha, a remake of the American comedy-drama Forrest Gump (1994). She will also portray the Mughal princess Jahanara Begum in Karan Johar's directorial venture Takht, a historical drama featuring an ensemble cast, including Ranveer Singh, Vicky Kaushal, and Alia Bhatt.
Alongside her acting work, Kapoor has established a career as a designer. During her five-year association with the retail chain Globus, Kapoor became the first Indian actress to launch her own line of clothing for women; she described the collaboration as being "special" and "reflective of my personal sense of style". Her collection made its debut several months later in stores across India, and was well received. Following the end of her contract with Globus, she expressed a desire to work with a design house to release her clothing line internationally, but later explained that those plans were on hold. In August 2018, Kapoor collaborated with Lakmé Cosmetics to launch her own line of cosmetics.
In 2009, Kapoor worked with nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar on Don't Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight, a book which focused on the principles of healthy eating habits. Published by Random House, the book was well received by critics, and sold 10,000 copies within its first twenty days. A follow-up titled, Women and The Weight Loss Tamasha, was released two years later. It addressed the weight loss concerns and eating habits of women in various parts of their life, and featured Kapoor in a voice-over for the audiobook. In February 2013, Kapoor released her autobiographical memoir: The Style Diary of a Bollywood Diva. Co-written alongside Rochelle Pinto, it became the first book to be launched under the Shobhaa De imprint of Penguin Books—a set of series that included celebrity memoirs, guides and biographies. In a review published by Mint, Shefalee Vasudev criticised the writing style as "too-breezy" but further stated that it is "a well-produced book, reproducing chirpy little post-it notes and diet charts, punctuated with Bebo's stunning pictures from her private albums to fashion magazine covers." Later that year, she collaborated with Diwekar for the third time on The Indian Food Wisdom and The Art of Eating Right, a documentary film about nutrition.
During her years in the film industry, Kapoor has been actively involved in promoting children's education and the safety of women. In June 2010, she took part in the international campaign 1GOAL Education for All, and was appointed ambassador for the Shakti Campaign—a project launched by NDTV to combat violence against women—in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. Two years later, Kapoor launched Channel V's anti-rape mobile app 'VithU'; she stated that with an increasing amount of violence against women in India, "it was important for actors to stand up for issues because they can reach out to a lot of people."
In January 2014, Kapoor began working with UNICEF to advocate the education of girls and increase quality based education in India. Speaking of her association, she expressed hope in creating places "where children feel safe and secure, and where interactive and creative tools are used to ensure that children are happy and learning." During the first year, Kapoor visited schools in the states of Rajasthan and Maharashtra where she interacted with students and participated in fundraising events hosted by the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya organisation in the Jalna district. Along with UNICEF India's Goodwill Ambassador (Sharmila Tagore), Kapoor hosted a charity dinner to help raise awareness for the development of underprivileged kids, and launched the 'Child-Friendly School and Systems' (CFSS) package. She later donated an equivalent amount of the funds raised during a joint initiative by UNICEF and Groupon for a higher-quality learning environment in Indian schools.
The following year, she awarded 31 students and 5 teachers for their contribution towards the field of education in Chhattisgarh at the concluding ceremony of Child Rights Protection week. Also that year, Kapoor provided a voice-over for the documentary film Girl Rising: Woh Padhegi, Woh Udegi She will learn, she will fly for the organisation of the same name, and produced a documentary on women's empowerment. In June 2016, she spoke at an event organised by UNICEF in Lucknow to promote menstrual hygiene management. Following the birth of her son, Kapoor wrote an article published in The Times of India titled "Let's save our newborn babies", discussing infant mortality, and launched the "Every Child Alive" campaign to promote affordable and quality health care for mothers and their newborn. In May 2018, she was invited as a keynote speaker for a Mother's Day event in New Delhi organised by UNICEF.
Additionally, Kapoor has made public appearances to support other charitable organisations. She performed at a fundraiser for the World Youth Peace Summit in November 2003, and participated in a concert to raise money for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. She visited Indian jawans (troops) in Rajasthan, for a special Holi weekend episode of NDTV's reality show Jai Jawaan. In 2010, Kapoor adopted the village of Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh as part of NDTV's Greenathon Campaign, to provide the village with a regular supply of electricity. Four years later, she participated in a campaign to raise awareness on hunger and malnutrition in the world and made donations to the Kashmir flood relief. In September 2016, Kapoor attended the inaugural of Global Citizen India—a joint initiative by the music festival of the same name and The Global Education and Leadership Foundation. The following year, Kapoor became the brand ambassador for Swasth Immunised India, a campaign launched by the Network18 Group and Serum Institute of India to promote immunisation for children.
Kapoor has participated in several stage shows and world tours since 2002. Her first tour (Heartthrobs: Live in Concert (2002) with Hrithik Roshan, Karisma Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Aftab Shivdasani) was successful in the United States and Canada. At the end of that year, she performed with several other Bollywood stars at Kings Park Stadium in Durban, South Africa in the show Now or Never.
Four years later, Kapoor returned to the stage with six other Bollywood celebrities in the successful Rockstars Concert world tour. The concert was originally scheduled to commence in April 2006, but was postponed due to the arrest of Salman Khan. It later began the following month and was staged in 19 cities across the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. In 2008, Kapoor performed in Shah Rukh Khan's Temptation Reloaded 2008, a series of concerts in a number of countries. The show (which also featured Arjun Rampal, Katrina Kaif, Ganesh Hegde, Javed Ali and Anusha Dandekar) debuted at the Rotterdam Ahoy venue in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Several months later she again joined Khan, Rampal and Kaif to perform for an audience of 15,000 at Dubai's Festival City Arena.
In 2018, Kapoor collaborated with Ishq FM to host a radio show "What Women Want". The show was well-received, earning Kapoor a nomination at the New York Festivals Radio Awards for "Best Talk Show Host", and later renewed for a second season. The following year, she featured as a talent judge for the seventh season of the dance reality show Dance India Dance.
Known for her nonchalant relationship with the media, Kapoor has gained a reputation for discussing her private life with no reservations. As a child she regularly attended award ceremonies and events with her family, and would also accompany Karisma on-set during filming. In an interview with Filmfare, she explained that growing up in a film family helped her develop a sense of professionalism and dedication towards her craft. Kapoor's private life has been the subject of media attention in India, with frequent press coverage of her weight and relationship with actor Saif Ali Khan. The couple—dubbed "Saifeena" by the entertainment media—has been one of the country's most-reported celebrity stories since 2007, and Kapoor gave birth to their son in 2016.
While a segment of the press has described Kapoor as friendly and extremely close to her family, others have criticised her for being arrogant and vain—an image she gained in the wake of her superficial character, Poo, in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... (2001). She subsequently featured in films portraying similar characters, and this further established her off- and on-screen personae. Before the release of Chameli (2004) (in which she played a sex worker), Kapoor stated that "there is a certain image that people identify you with and it always follows you whichever role you play. I am trying to transgress this image and become more screen-friendly than image-friendly." Chameli helped Kapoor reinvent her on-screen persona, and she later explained that her honesty and openness was often perceived by the media as arrogance.
Kapoor is also known for her assertive and moody nature, and her outspoken views and independence have been singled out for making major contributions to her career; they "add to her superstar aura". In an early interview, she confessed to being an "introvert, yet extremely candid and blunt", reasoning: "Total faith and complete belief in myself is my attitude towards life, films and virtually everything else. I am all about doing what I feel is right. It is not easy to pin me down as I can be a bundle of contradictions." Journalist Subhash K Jha explained that while this approach has sometimes been at the cost of professional opportunities, it "makes her such a favourite among the generation that believes in self regard being the highest form of creativity. She lives for the moment and crams all her intensity into it, not sparing a single thought for what is gone and what is waiting around the corner." Meanwhile, Anu Ahuja suggested that Kapoor's demeanour is an act; she is "cold and unapproachable so that no one will act funny with her".
Today, Kapoor is considered as one of the most popular Bollywood celebrities in India. Her look and performances have established her as a style icon for young women. In a 2009 poll conducted by the newspaper Daily News and Analysis Kapoor was voted one of India's most popular icons; with her partner Saif Ali Khan, she was listed amongst the top celebrity endorsers for brands and products worldwide. She became the only Indian actress to be featured on CNNGo's list of "Who Mattered Most in India", and was later selected by Verve for its list of the country's most powerful women from 2008 to 2013 and in 2016. In June 2010, Kapoor was named "India's Most Beautiful Woman" by the Indian edition of People magazine; Eastern Eye and Indian Maxim named her as "Asia's Sexiest Woman" and "India's Hottest Woman" in 2011 and 2012 respectively. The following year, she was selected by India Today for its list of the country's most influential women. From 2012 to 2018, Kapoor has featured on Forbes India's "Celebrity 100," a list based on the income and popularity of India's celebrities peaking at the seventh position in 2012 with an estimated annual earning of ₹735 million (US$10 million).
According to media reports, Kapoor relies on her instincts and spontaneity as an actor. She is known to commit heavily to each role, and refrains from rehearsing for a project. Commenting on this, director Rajkumar Hirani said "I usually have a habit of conducting rehearsals for my actors, but she insisted on not having them as it would affect her spontaneity. She really surprised me with a couple of emotional scenes which we canned in just one take." Karan Johar described Kapoor as a "natural", explaining that "she has no craft, grammar or process attached to her acting. It is a great sense of cinema that can keep her going." According to Rensil D'Silva (who directed her in Kurbaan), "Kareena is instinctive and has emotional intelligence. She absorbs the situation and performs accordingly. Discussing the scene, in fact, harms her."
While discussing her career highlights in a 2010 article, Rediff.com noted: "Even though a lot of her starring roles have been forgettable, a look at her filmography now, however, would show a more thoughtful selection of roles playing to her strengths." Her portrayal of a series of superficial characters at the start of her career were criticised; film historian Gyan Prakash explained that these roles "tended to infantilise her, packaging her as daddy's little girl, all bubble and no fizz". Critics noted Chameli (2004) as her coming of age, claiming that "a new actor in her was discovered". Following her portrayal of a variety of character types in Chameli, Dev (2004), Omkara (2006) and Jab We Met (2007), Kapoor was noted for her versatility. In 2010, Filmfare Magazine included two of her performances—from Omkara and Jab We Met—in its list of "80 Iconic Performances". India Today labelled her "the most versatile female lead in the industry", noting that she "plays her roles with trademark spunk".
Manjula Sen of The Telegraph wrote that although she has "the worst success ratio among her contemporaries", it does not affect her marketability. Sen further explained that Kapoor's strength lies in her being versatile; she is "effortlessly honest in her performances. It is a candour that spills over in her personal conduct." Writing for CNN-News18, Rituparna Chatterjee spoke of her transformation to date: "After 40 films and 10 years of fighting off competition from some of the most versatile actors of her generation, Kareena has matured into a bankable actor reinventing herself with surprising ease." In 2004, Kapoor placed third on Rediff's list of "Top Bollywood Female Stars". She was later ranked seventh and fifth in 2005 and 2006, respectively, and returned to third place in 2007. In January 2011, Kapoor placed fourth on Rediff's list of "Top 10 Actresses of 2000–2010".
Kapoor has received six Filmfare Awards out of ten nominations. For her role in Refugee, Kapoor was awarded the Best Female Debut in 2000. She earned a special jury recognition for Chameli (2003), and two Critics Award for Best Actress for Dev (2004) and Omkara (2006). Kapoor later received the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for Jab We Met (2007) and We Are Family (2010) respectively.