Kajol Devgn (née Mukherjee; born 5 August 1974), known mononymously as Kajol, is an Indian actress. Described in the media as one of the most successful actresses of Hindi cinema, she is the recipient of numerous accolades, including six Filmfare Awards, among which she holds the record for most Best Actress awards previously set by her late aunt Nutan. In 2011, she was honoured with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour of the country, by the Government of India.
The daughter of Tanuja and Shomu Mukherjee, Kajol made her acting debut with Bekhudi (1992), while still in school. She subsequently quit her studies, and had her first commercial success with Baazigar (1993), opposite Shah Rukh Khan. Following a breakthrough role in Yeh Dillagi (1994), she featured with Khan in several blockbusters, including the romances Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), both gained her wide public recognition and two Filmfare Awards in the Best Actress category. Although her career was further established during this period by financially profitable family dramas, it was her portrayal of a psychopathic killer in Gupt: The Hidden Truth (1997) and an avenger in Dushman (1998) that earned her greater critical appreciation.
After shooting for the family drama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… (2001), which won her a third Filmfare Award, Kajol took a sabbatical from full-time acting and continued working infrequently over the next decades. Following a successful comeback with the romantic thriller Fanaa (2006), she played leading roles, among those well received such as U Me Aur Hum (2008), We Are Family (2010), My Name Is Khan (2010), and Dilwale (2015). Her performances in Fanaa and My Name Is Khan earned her two more Best Actress awards at Filmfare. Kajol’s highest-grossing release came with the period film Tanhaji in 2020.
In addition to acting in films, Kajol is a social activist and noted for her work with widows and children. She has featured as a talent judge for the reality show Rock-N-Roll Family in 2008, and holds a managerial position at Devgn Entertainment and Software Ltd. Kajol has been married to the actor and filmmaker Ajay Devgn, with whom she has two children, since 1999.
Kajol was born in Bombay (present-day Mumbai) on 5 August 1974. Her mother, Tanuja, is an actress, while her father Shomu Mukherjee was a film director and producer. Her younger sister, Tanishaa, is also an actress. Her maternal aunt was actress Nutan and her maternal grandmother, Shobhna Samarth, and great-grandmother, Rattan Bai, were both involved in Hindi cinema. Her paternal uncles, Joy Mukherjee and Deb Mukherjee, are film producers, while her paternal and maternal grandfathers, Sashadhar Mukherjee and Kumarsen Samarth, respectively, were filmmakers. Kajol’s cousins Rani Mukerji, Sharbani Mukherjee, and Mohnish Behl are also Bollywood actors; whereas Ayan Mukerji is a director.
Kajol describes herself as being mischievous, stubborn, and impulsive at a young age. Her parents separated when she was young, but Kajol was unaffected by it since the matter was never discussed at home. Kajol was looked after by her maternal grandmother, who “never let me feel that my mother was away and working”. According to Kajol, her mother inculcated a sense of independence in her since she was young. Growing up between two separate cultures, she inherited her “Maharashtrian pragmatism” from her mother and her “Bengali temperament” from her father. As part of tradition, along with the Mukherjee family, Kajol, a pracitising Hindu, celebrates the Durga Puja festival in the suburban neighbourhood of Santacruz annually.
Kajol was educated at St. Joseph’s Convent School, Panchgani. Apart from her studies, she participated in extra-curricular activities, such as dancing. It was in school that she began to form an active interest in reading fiction, as it helped her “through the bad moments” in her life. In the early 1990s, Tanuja tried to direct a film to launched her as an actress, but it was shelved after a few days of shooting. At sixteen, Kajol began work on Bekhudi, which according to her was a “big dose of luck”; she was cast by him when she visited the studio of the photographer Gautam Rajadhyaksha, who also wrote the film’s screenplay. She intended to return to school after shooting during her two-months summer vacation but eventually dropped out to pursue a full-time career in film—though she later regretted the decision.
- $16 million (celebritynetworth.com)
Kajol began dating actor Ajay Devgn in 1994, while filming Gundaraj. Members of the media, however, labelled them as an “unlikely pair” due to their contrasting personalities. Devgn explained their relationship by saying, “We never resorted to the usual ‘I love you’ routine. A proposal never happened. We grew with each other. Marriage was never discussed, but it was always imminent”. The couple married on 24 February 1999 in a traditional Maharashtrian ceremony at Devgn’s house. The wedding was subject to wide media scrutiny, as certain members of the media criticised Kajol’s decision to settle down at the pinnacle of her career. Kajol, however, maintained that she would not quit films, but would cut down on the amount of work that she did.
Following her marriage, Kajol moved in with Devgn and his parents at the latter’s ancestral house in Juhu. Tabloids have often romantically linked Devgn with other Bollywood actresses, and reported an imminent divorce. Dismissing the rumors as gossip, Kajol attested to not giving attention to such talk. Kajol prefers not to talk much about her personal life and dislikes being interviewed, considering it “a waste of time”. She gave birth to a daughter, Nysa, on 20 April 2003. Seven years later, on 13 September 2010, she gave birth to a son, Yug. She described motherhood as “fab” and added that her kids brought out “the best in her”. Kajol has used Devgn as her surname since 2015. She speaks English, Hindi and Marathi, and “can understand Bengali”.