When Kareena Kapoor burst into the big screen as a 20-year-old with 'Refugee', her performance made sure that audiences and the film industry stood up and took notice. Despite (or maybe due to) being a star kid, she had all the innate makings of a superstar - and 14 years later, she is one of Bollywood's top divas. As Bebo celebrates her name day, here are her 10 best performances over the years that won all our hearts.
1. Refugee (2000)
Not all annual Best Debut Awards are deserved, but Kareena's totally was. The younger Kapoor sister could not have asked for a better platform than J.P. Dutta's 'Refugee' to launch her career. And boy, did she prove herself! Needless to say, she has come much further than Abhishek Bachchan - who also made his debut with this movie.
2. Asoka (2001)
Although this movie did not get its due in India, it had caused quite a ripple at international film festivals in Venice and Toronto. This was Kareena's first portrayal of a historic character - Kaurwaki, Emperor Ashoka's love interest. Whether it was the novelty of a period drama, or her complete transformation for her character - but it was one of Kareena's best performances which earned her a nomination for a Filmfare Best Actress Award.
3. Chameli (2004)
2004 marked the beginning of Kareena's golden age as far as her acting is concerned. At a time when Bollywood actresses still thought twice about essaying the role of a prostitute, Kareena took up the offer with aplomb - and till date, 'Chameli' is one of her best movies.
4. Yuva (2004)
Whenever you come across a movie with an ensemble cast, it is always difficult to decide on how good a performance a certain actor has given - especially if it's a female actor in a Bollywood movie. However, Kareena's wild child avatar in 'Yuva' certainly ranks here as one of her most memorable roles. Compared to the stark imageries of student politics, her character was the perfect foil.
5. Dev (2004)
Few mainstream actresses have the confidence to go deglam and win at it like Kareena. If Bebo can do a 'Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon', she can also do a 'Dev' with equal panache. Her role of Aaliya balanced out the communalism and politics that the plot of the movie is embroiled in - and went on to win the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress. This movie is also significant in that it marked the debut of Kareena as a singer with the track 'Jab Nahin Aaye The Tum'.
6. Omkara (2006)
Another extremely fortunate movie in her career has been Vishal Bhardwaj's 'Omkara'. Kareena portrayed the role of Desdemona (or Dolly Mishra) in this Indianized version of Shakespeare's 'Othello'. Few directors bring out their actor's untapped potential like Bhardwaj - and thanks to him, Kareena gave one of her best performances of her life - winning a couple of awards for her acting.
7. Jab We Met (2007)
Geet Dhillon stands at par with, if not above, all the other characters on this list that Kareena breathed life into. 'Jab We Met' was one of the most successful movies in 2007 - thanks partly to Kareena and Shahid's recent affair and partly to her effervescent persona in the movie. If this list were not chronological, many Kareena fans would have put this movie on the top spot for sure.
8. Kurbaan (2009)
This was Kareena and Saif Ali Khan's first movie together after they officially started dating on the sets of 'Tashan'. Even though the audience did not quite appreciate their onscreen chemistry as they do their off-screen one, it still marked one of Kareena's stunning performances. A university teacher in love with a terrorist, she especially grabbed eyeballs with her bold acts.
9. Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (2012)
To be honest, this one was not much of a smashing hit - but Kareena did deliver a very credible performance that was light years away from the 'overacting' the actress has sometimes been credited with. With her eccentric role of Riana Braganza, Kareena brought to Bollywood the trope of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl that has been seen in Hollywood over the years (Kate Winslet in 'Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind' and Natalie Portman in 'Garden State').
10. Heroine (2012)
When Kareena Kapoor was chosen to play fictional Bollywood star Mahi Arora in Madhur Bhandarkar's 'Heroine', we knew instantaneously that no other actress could have done it, really. Bhandarkar's movies always reek of the unpleasant stench of reality - but combine that with the perfectly executed performance depicting acts of melodrama, histrionics and apparent confidence of a rising film star, and you have a gem.
Photo: © Bhandarkar Entertainment (Main Image)