Koirala - born on August 16, 1970 in Kathmandu, Nepal, is a prominent
Bollywood actress, UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador and social activist. She is
also an accomplished Bharatnatyam and Manipuri dancer.
Making her acting debut in the Nepali movie Pheri Bhetaula (1989),
Koirala made her acting debut in Bollywood with Subhash Ghai's top
grossing drama Saudagar (1991). She went on to collaborate with some of
the most prominent film directors of her times, and throughout the
1990s, was one of the popular actresses in India, mostly credited for
her critically acclaimed performances.
Noted for her willingness to portray diverse characters, Koirala
primarily ventured into serious and realistic cinema, and though most of
her films have not done well at the box office, her niche as an actor
remains unharmed irrespective of box office collections.
Manisha Koirala was born into the politically prominent Koirala family;
Her grandfather Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala was the Prime Minister of
Nepal during the late 50s-early 60s, as well as two of her great uncles,
Girija Prasad Koirala and MP Koirala. She studied at Army Public School,
Dhaula Kuan, New Delhi and Vasant Kanya Mahavidhyalaya (VKM) Varanasi.
She lived with her grandmother in Varanasi during her studies. Her
ambition was to be a doctor, but a modelling stint opened a career path
Her brother Siddharth Koirala is also an actor, and collaborated with
her once in the film Anwar.
In 2004, she returned from New York after receiving a diploma in
filmmaking. She became a member of an independent documentary
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. The film proved to be a good beginning, as it was the
biggest hit of the year. After that, she went on to work with some of
the most prominent film directors of Bollywood.
She went on to star in a number of critically and commercially
successful films such as Vidhu Vinod Chopra's love saga 1942: A Love
Story (1994) and Mani Ratnam's Tamil drama Bombay (1995). Her
performance in the latter was particularly appreciated and won her the
Filmfare Best Performer Award. She was also seen in more commercial
films, such as Mansoor Khan's romantic musical Akele Hum Akele Tum
(1995) opposite Aamir Khan; her role as a reigning star in the film
earned her a Filmfare nomination for Best Actress.
Koirala had a particularly successful year in 1996. She received
positive reviews for her performance in the drama Agni Sakshi, where she
played the role of a battered wife on the run from her mentally sick
husband, played by Nana Patekar. 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. The
film saw her playing the role of Annie, a caring daughter to deaf
parents. Her performance was highly acclaimed, and won her a second
consecutive Filmfare Best Performer Award, as well as a Star Screen
Award for Best Actress. One 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
One year later in 1997, she played the leading role alongside Kajol and
Bobby Deol in the thriller Gupt: The Hidden Truth. The film became one
of the biggest hits of the year.
Manisha Koirala from Gupt: The Hidden Truth (1997)She went to
collaborate once again with Mani Ratnam, and starred in his
award-winning film Dil Se (1998) opposite Shahrukh Khan. Her role
received similarly good reviews, and earned her several award
nominations. Despite performing poorly at the box office in India, the
film proved to be a hit overseas.
Since then, she has been part of several critically and commercially
successful projects. in 1999, she starred in the moderately successful
Kachche Dhaage (1999), 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
favorable 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
In 2001, she played the leading role in Rajkumar Santoshi's drama Lajja
along with an ensemble cast that included Rekha, Anil Kapoor, Madhuri
Dixit and Jackie Shroff. The film received a good reception from critics
and Koirala's performance was particularly praised. She next starred in
the drama Grahan, and her portrayal of a rape victim who quests for
justice was much appreciated as well.
In 2002, she starred opposite Ajay Devgan in Ram Gopal Verma's Company.
The film was critically acclaimed, as well as Koirala's performance in
it, and she won her third Filmfare Best Performer Award. Critic Alok
Kumar wrote about her performance, "Manisha Koirala has yet another
solid performance to add to her already overflowing portfolio of
excellent roles. She has proved herself once again with a powerful and
sensitive performance. She holds her own in every scene she's in and is
amazing in her emotional scenes, displaying confidence and maturity. Her
new look suits her well. Here's a girl who can really act."
After years of success, in 2003 Koirala left the mainstream cinema. 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 Best Actress Award. She then played
the main protagonist in the movie Market where she enacted a role of a
prostitute, portraying a whole life story.
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.
Overall, Koirala starred as the leading role in 6 high-budget,
successful Tamil movies: 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.
Since then, She has played supporting roles in various unsuccessful
films, some of which being well received by critics, such as the
thriller Tum - A Dangerous Obsession (2005), and the horror film Anjaane
- The Unknown (2006).
Koirala's only release in 2007 was Anwar, in which she played a
supporting role. In 2008, she made her comeback to films, with her first
leading role since Mumbai Express, 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 has completed the shooting for Rituparno Ghosh's film Khela, and is
set to star in Deepa Mehta's patriotic foreign film Exclusion.
In September 1999, Koirala was appointed as a UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador.
She is actively involved in social work, specifically working with
organizations to promote women’s rights, prevention of violence against
women, and also to prevent the human trafficking of Nepali girls for
Ek Chotisi Love Story
In 2002, Manisha accused the director of the film Ek Chotisi Love Story
Shashilal Nair of using Koirala's body double to shoot some love scenes
in the film and portraying her in bad light by shooting obscene postures
using another actress in her place, without Manisha's approval to do so.
Koirala required from Nair to re-shoot these scenes because the double's
body did not match her physique and required that these scenes be
deleted from the film. She later claimed that Nair had stipulated to
re-shoot the scenes only if she agrees to bear half the expenses.
“ I always believed in Shashi. I did this film out of sheer goodwill. I
had nothing to gain from it financially as I did the film for free. I
also gave him all the dates immediately. It was his first chance to
direct a film in four years. He has a family to support and I couldn't
bear to see a friend in hardship. ”
Koirala decided to sue Nair and dragged him to court. She has moved the
court against him, and objected to the alleged nudity and obscene
postures, and pleaded that these scenes be deleted from the film, saying
she had not performed in these scenes and that Nair had made use of
another actress for this. Koirala. Finally, the court decided to stay
the release of the film.
The pet case
Another controversy occurred in February 2006, when a wake of
protests by section of people following a media report claimed Koirala
had named her pet dog after a revered Muslim figure, which caused to
demonstrations against her. Koirala was provided police security to
prevent any problem. In the following days, The accusations continued.
However, Koirala denied the accusations and the Police said the actress
had no pet at all.
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
2003, Filmfare Critics Award for Best Performance, Company
2004, Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards, Best Actress, Escape
1995, Filmfare Best Actress Award, 1942:A Love Story
1996, Filmfare Best Actress Award, Bombay
1996, Filmfare Best Actress Award, Akele Hum Akele Tum
1997, Filmfare Best Actress Award, Khamoshi: The Musical
1997, Filmfare Best Actress Award, Agni Sakshi
1999, Filmfare Best Actress Award, Dil Se