The free spirited actress Manisha Koirala is best known as the girl who mesmerized us with her beauty, and made an entry into hindi films with her impish declaration of love, ‘Ilu Ilu’ in her debut film Saudagar. Born on August 16, 1970, and Nepal’s best import, Manisha debuted in 1991, and from her very first film, she’s had a great run at the box-office. 1942: A Love Story and Bombay, two films in the early nineties helped her establish her credentials as an actor in Bollywood.

She was born in Nepal, to the Koirala family, and between her grandfather, and her father, members of the family have been associated with governance in the country in prime posts in the cabinet and as ministers. Coming from such a thorough background, she wanted to pursue a career in medicine. Studying in Varanasi, and college in Delhi, she happened to land a stint in modelling, which got her film offers.

The nineties was also particularly the decade in which her career was at its peak. Performances in Agni Sakshi as a battered woman caught in a bad marriage, and then later as the emotionally distraught child of deaf-mute parents in Khamoshi: The Musical, she was able to sail through without having to lean on a leading actor for support. Gupt, Dil Se, Mann carried in the tradition of her author backed roles that got her much accolade. She was being hailed as the new Meena Kumari, a new tragedy queen was born.

After a successful decade, she took up fringe roles in films when offers started drying up. She always chose to play substantial parts, instead of giving in to market demands for commercial parts. She acted in several Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam films with big stars from the South. In Bollywood, she moved on to production and even took up a course in direction in New York.

Manisha is also UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador and actively participates in social work, key in the area of prevention of human trafficking of Nepali girls for prostitution. Last year, she was diagnosed with cancer, and thereafter has undergone surgery. After successful recovery, she is keen to return to the screen and inspire people with her story.

It will be a great return for sure. Here’s hoping this birthday she speeds up the process to make a grand comeback. Happy Birthday Manisha Koirala.

Manish Gaekwad

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