Manisha Koirala in November 2014
16 August 1970 |
|Years active||1989 – present|
|Spouse(s)||Samrat Dahal (2010–2012)|
|Relatives||Siddharth Koirala (brother)|
Manisha Koirala (born 16 August 1970) is a Nepalese known for her works in Indian cinema, as well as a UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador and social activist. Koirala has primarily worked in Hindi cinema, though she has appeared in several Nepali, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films as well. She is also an accomplished Bharatnatyam and Manipuri dancer. Born to politician Prakash Koirala and Sushma Koirala in the politically prominent Koirala family of Nepal, she made her acting debut in the Nepali film Pheri Bhetaula (1989). A year later, Koirala made her Bollywood debut with the top-grossing drama Saudagar (1991). She went on to establish herself as one of the leading actresses in the 90s with such mainstream films as 1942: A Love Story (1994), Agni Sakshi (1996) and Gupt (1997).
Recognised for her acting prowess, Koirala was noted for her performances in films such as Bombay, Akele Hum Akele Tum (both 1995), Khamoshi: The Musical (1996), Dil Se.. (1998), Lajja (2001) and Company (2002). She has won the Filmfare Critics' Award thrice and has received four nominations for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress so far. Although box-office collections of her films have varied considerably, critics have noted that her niche as an actor remains unharmed irrespective of her commercial potent. Off-screen she is frequented in the media as a "controversy's child" with her bohemian stance and candid comments often described as "outspoken" and "bold". She was awarded "Nepal's Humanitarian Ambassador" at the We Care for Humanity's 3rd Global Officials of Dignity Awards which was held at UN Millennium Hotel in August, 2015.
Early life and background
Manisha Koirala was born in Kathmandu to Prakash and Sushma Koirala. Her grandfather, Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala, was Prime Minister of Nepal during the late 1950s-early 1960s, as were two of her great-uncles, Girija Prasad Koirala and Matrika Prasad Koirala. She studied at Vasant Kanya Mahavidhyalaya (VKM), Varanasi until Class X. She stayed with her grandmother in Varanasi during her studies. After passing tenth standard she shifted to the Army Public School, Dhaula Kuan, New Delhi (APS). Her ambition was to be a doctor, but a modelling stint opened a career path into Bollywood.
Her brother Siddharth Koirala is also an actor of hindi cinema and had collaborated with her once in the film Anwar. In 2004, she returned from New York after receiving a diploma in film making. She became a member of an independent documentary filmmaker's society. She had studied at New York University.
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. She starred in a number of films during 1992–1993 before Vidhu Vinod Chopra's love saga 1942: A Love Story (1994) and Mani Ratnam's Tamil drama Bombay (1995) came out.
Her performance on film Bombay was a milestone on her career which won her the Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Actress and Filmfare Critics Award for Best Performance. She was seriously noticed by bollywood after the release of 1942: A Love Story which was a year earlier than the release of Bombay. She also starred in Mansoor Khan's romantic musical Akele Hum Akele Tum (1995) as the ignored wife who leaves her husband and child to fulfill her singing talent and subsequently becomes a popular star. In 1996 she received positive reviews for her performance in the drama Agni Sakshi, as a battered wife on the run from her mentally ill husband. The film became one of the biggest hits of that year at the Indian box office. Later that year, she acted in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's directorial debut, Khamoshi: The Musical where she played the role of Annie, a caring daughter to deaf and mute parents.
A critic from Channel 4 wrote, "Koirala... demonstrates the full range of her acting ability, rather than playing against it as she has had to do in more traditional films. The scene where she shouts at her father through the door, screaming and using sign language even though she knows he can neither see nor hear her, is extremely powerful." Filmfare magazine later included her performance in the film on its "80 Iconic Performances" list. 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 that year.
She went on to collaborate once again with acclaimed director Mani Ratnam, and starred in his film Dil Se..(1998) opposite Shahrukh Khan. Her role received similarly good reviews, and earned her several award nominations including the Filmfare Best Actress Award nomination. Despite performing poorly at the box office in India, the film proved to be a hit overseas. So if one has to name her most notable films of the 1990s then it would definitely be these four films: 1942: A Love Story, Bombay, Khamoshi: The Musical and Dil Se, through which she kissed success in Bollywood on the basis of her talent. With no god father in bollywood and being a Non-Indian, she reached the peak of her career during the 1990s and mostly seen as a beautiful and talented actress.
In 1999, she starred in the successful Kachche Dhaage , 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 favourable 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 2000 she hosted the TV show Sawaal Dus Crore Ka on Zee TV alongside Anupam Kher. In 2001, she starred in the drama Grahan opposite Jackie Shroff. Her portrayal of a rape victim in the film who quests for justice was appreciated, but the film, which was a much-delayed project, was a major commercial failure. She next played the protagonist in Rajkumar Santoshi's drama Lajja along with an ensemble cast that included Rekha, Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit. The film received a positive reception from critics, and so did Koirala's performance. Her last release of the year was Moksha opposite Arjun Rampal, which was a failure at the box office.
In 2002, she starred opposite Ajay Devgan in Ram Gopal Verma's Company. The film was a critical success and she won her third Filmfare Critics' Best Actress Award. In that same year, she appeared in Ek Chotisi Love Story. The film when released generated tremendous response at the box office becoming one of the few successes of the year. The movie's release was stayed as she accused the director of the film, Shashilal Nair of using her body double to shoot some love scenes in the film and portraying her in bad light by shooting positions using another actress in her place, without her approval to do so. A court finally decided to stay the release of the film.
After years of success, in 2003 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 Award for Best Actress. She then played the protagonist in Market (2003), a film portraying the whole life story of a young prostitute. The film was a decent success at the box office.
After receiving a diploma in filmmaking, she produced the small-budget caper-comedy Paisa Vasool (2004) in which she starred along with Sushmita Sen; this was probably the first ever chick-flick in Indian cinema in that it did not have a male lead nor a love story. Since then, she has played supporting and leading roles in various unsuccessful films, some of which being well received by critics, such as the historical epic drama Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story (2005), the thriller Tum - A Dangerous Obsession (2005), and the horror film Anjaane – The Unknown (2006).
In Anwar, she played a supporting role along with her brother Siddharth, her only release in 2007. In 2008, she made her comeback to films, with her first leading role since Mumbai Express (2005), in Tulsi, opposite Irrfan Khan. Although pre-release her comeback was described by the media as "shocking", and the film suffered from poor marketing, her performance as Tulsi, a young homemaker diagnosed with blood cancer, was well received. Taran Adarsh from indiaFM wrote, "Manisha Koirala sinks her teeth in this role and delivers a fine performance." She next starred in Sirf (2008). The film was released without any notice or publicity and was a critical and box office failure. Her first Bengali film Khela directed by Rituparno Ghosh released the same year, along with the long delayed Hindi film Mehbooba, both films released on the same day.
In 2010, she made her foray into Malayalam cinema with Shyamaprasad's Elektra, a psycho-sensual drama based on Sophocles's ancient Greek tragic play Electra. She plays the antagonist in the film which revolves around the concept of Electra Complex that is a daughter's psychosexual competition with her mother for her father's affection. The film premiered at the International Film Festival of India, where it was well received. Later that year, she acted in Partho Ghosh's Ek Second... Jo Zindagi Badal De?. She also acted in her native Nepali-language film, Dharmaa, after a gap of 22 years since her first film.
In 2011 Koirala appeared in Mappillai, her first Tamil movie in 5 years. A remake of the 1989 film of the same name, the film saw her reprising the role originally played by Srividya, her performance earned her a nomination in the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress – Tamil. She was next seen in director Onir's critically acclaimed anthology film I Am, sharing the screen with Juhi Chawla; noted film critic Taran Adarsh commented, "It's a delight to watch Juhi and Manisha, after a hiatus. Both deliver striking performances – even getting the language right." Her next film was Deepti Naval's directorial debut Do Paise Ki Dhoop, Char Aane Ki Barish which premiered at the market section of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival to a positive response. In 2012, she was re-teamed with director Ram Gopal Verma for his 3D horror film Bhoot Returns which is a sequel to 2003 hit Bhoot.
On 19 June 2010, Koirala married Samrat Dahal, a Nepali businessman, in a traditional ceremony held in Kathmandu. The couple spent their honeymoon in Finland. They met through the online social networking website, Facebook. The couple divorced in 2012.
On 29 November 2012, media news reported that Koirala had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer., She had no clue about the disease until she felt very weak and went on to a hospital in Kathmandu with her brother. She flew to India and was admitted to Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai,. She then flew to the USA for treatment, however the exact ailment was not disclosed.
On 10 December, she underwent surgery. The following day it was reported that the surgery was successful. She had to undergo chemo therapy and spent months at the hospital in New York. She posted her photos after the chemo and other pictures while staying in New York through Twitter where she stayed connected with her fans. As of 2 May 2015, she has been cancer-free for two years. After fighting cancer and winning the battle, she is actively involved in spreading the awareness about the disease. 
In September 1999, Koirala was appointed as a UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador. She is actively involved in social work, specifically working with organisations to promote women's rights, prevention of violence against women, and also to prevent the human trafficking of Nepali girls for prostitution.
In May 2013, after her cancer treatment, Koirala said she intends to use her celebrity status and personal story to inspire others who are battling the dreaded disease. "All I want to do from now onwards is to be useful to people who could need [a] little advice," she said in her first interview since undergoing cancer treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre.
Awards and honours
- 1994, Smita Patil Memorial Award
- 1996, Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Tamil, Bombay
- 1996, Filmfare Critics Award for Best Performance, Bombay
- 1997, Filmfare Critics Award for Best Performance, Khamoshi: The Musical
- 1997, Star Screen Award Best Actress, Khamoshi: The Musical
- 2001, Gorkha Dakshina Bahu Honoured by the King of Nepal for achievement in the Indian Film Industry
- 2003, Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress, Company
- 2004, Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards, Best Actress, Escape From Taliban
- 1995, Filmfare Best Actress Award, 1942: A Love Story
- 1996, Filmfare Best Actress Award, Akele Hum Akele Tum
- 1997, Filmfare Best Actress Award, Khamoshi: The Musical
- 1999, Filmfare Best Actress Award, Dil Se..
- 1999, Star Screen Award Best Actress, Dil Se..
- 2012, Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress – Tamil, Mappillai
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