Amrita Rao (born 7 June) is an Indian actress who primarily works in Hindi films. Rao made her acting debut with Ab Ke Baras (2002), which earned her a nomination for Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut. Rao won the IIFA Award for Star Debut of the Year – Female, for her portrayal of a college student in the romantic drama Ishq Vishk (2003), her first commercial success. She is the recipient of such accolades including a IIFA Award and two Stardust Awards.

Amrita Rao
Rao in 2020
Born7 June[1]
Alma materSophia College, Mumbai
OccupationActress
Years active2002–present
SpouseRJ Anmol (m. 2016)
Children1[3]
RelativesPreetika Rao (younger sister)

Rao received praise for her portrayals in commercially successful films - the masala film Main Hoon Na (2004), the romance Vivah (2006), the comedy thriller Masti (2004) and the comedy Welcome to Sajjanpur (2008), winning the Stardust Award for Best Actress for her performance in the lattermost. Rao also made her Telugu film debut with Athidhi (2007) and established herself as "Bollywood's quintessential girl-next-door".[4] M. F. Husain pronounced Rao as his second muse and made several paintings dedicated to the actress's role in Vivah.[5]

Post this success, most of Rao's films turned out to be commercial failures. She then appeared in the National Award-winning film Jolly LLB (2013). Rao has since played supporting parts in the action drama Singh Saab the Great (2013), the political drama Satyagraha (2013) and the biopic Thackeray (2019). Rao appeared as the Judge on the reality show, Perfect Bride in 2009. She made her TV debut with Meri Awaaz Hi Pehchaan Hai (2016), portraying a singer.[6]

Early life

Rao has never publicised her birthday details.[7] Hindustan Times reported her birthdate as 7 June.[1] She comes from a Konkani - speaking Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin family.[8][9][10] Rao studied at Canossa Girls School, Andheri (Bombay) then to Sophia College (Mumbai) to pursue a graduate degree in Psychology but dropped out to pursue a modeling career. She has a younger sister Preetika Rao, who is also an actress.[11]

Career

Debut, breakthrough and success (2002–2006)

Before starting her career as an actor, Rao along with her sister Preetika appeared in several commercials during her college days. Her first public appearance was in the music video for Alisha Chinai's song Woh Pyar Mera.[12]

 
Rao in 2011

In 2002, Rao played her first leading role as Anjali Thapar in Raj Kanwar's fantasy thriller Ab Ke Baras alongside debutante Aarya Babbar.[13][14] The film, which depicts the story of U.S based girl (played by Rao) having recurrent dreams of a parallel life in India, proved to be financially unsuccessful; however, Rao received a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut for her performance. Rao next starred alongside Ajay Devgn in the biographical period film The Legend of Bhagat Singh.[15] In the film, which narrates the story of Indian independence Freedom Fighter Bhagat Singh, she played the role of Mannewali (Bhagat's fiancé). The film did not perform well at the box office, grossing only ₹129 million (US$2.7 million in 2002).[16] In May 2003, Rao starred in the coming-of-age romance film Ishq Vishk opposite Shahid Kapoor, in their first of several collaborations, as a college student. The film was a success at the box office proving to be a breakthrough for Rao. Both the film and Rao's performance received critical acclaim. Rao's portrayal earned her the IIFA Award for Star Debut of the Year – Female.[17][18]

In 2004, Rao starred in three films. Her first release of the year was Indra Kumar's adult comedy Masti, opposite Vivek Oberoi.[19][20][21] The film featured an ensemble cast (Ajay Devgn, Vivek Oberoi, Riteish Deshmukh, Aftab Shivdasani, Lara Dutta, Tara Sharma, and Genelia D'Souza) and earned around 34.14 crore (US$4.3 million) worldwide. The film received mixed reviews from critics and also did well at the box office.[22] Rao's performance as the over-possessive wife was well received by critics.[23] Rao next had a supporting role in the Farah Khan's masala film Main Hoon Na, where she co-starred alongside Shah Rukh Khan, Suniel Shetty, Sushmita Sen, and Zayed Khan. The film emerged as the second highest-grossing Indian film of 2004 with over 84 crore (US$11 million) in revenue worldwide. Her role as an army officer's daughter Sanjana (Sanju) Bakshi received positive reviews and earned her a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her third and final release of 2004 was Milan Luthria's action drama Deewar. Rao had a minor role named Radhika, Akshaye Khanna's love interest.[24][25]

Rao co-starred in the 2005 drama Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi! alongside Shahid Kapoor.[26] Critical response to the film was negative, although Rao garnered acclaim for her performance as a school teacher.[27][28] That same year, Rao took the lead role in the John Matthew Matthan drama Shikhar, in which she portrayed Madhvi.[29] She then appeared in the 2006 comedy Pyare Mohan, a film loosely based on the 1989 American film See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and her second collaboration with Vivek Oberoi. The movie received mixed reviews from critics; Rajeev Masand wrote, "Amrita hit career lows, producing the low-fashion chemistry".[30]

Rao played the female lead role in Sooraj R. Barjatya's romance Vivah (2006). The film depicted the journey of two individuals from engagement to marriage. In her fourth collaboration with Shahid Kapoor, Rao portrayed Poonam, a traditionally raised young woman. The film received mixed reviews by critics but became one of the highest-grossing films of the year, as well as Rao's biggest commercial success to date. Taran Adarsh wrote, "Amrita Rao gets a new lease of life with Vivah. She looks the character and is splendid all through."[31] Rao received a nomination for the Screen Award for Best Actress for her performance in the film.[32]

Minor successes and setbacks (2007–2012)

Rao was cast alongside Mahesh Babu in the 2007 Telugu action film Athidhi. The film was directed and co-written by Surender Reddy. She received mostly positive reviews, with critics praising the chemistry between Rao and Mahesh Babu. Radhika Rajamani for Rediff.com noted, "Amrita Rao, who makes her debut in Telugu films, makes a mark."[33] "Moviebuzz" for Sify wrote, "Amrita Rao is not only beautiful but also glamorous. She has proved that she could be yet another native girl of Tollywood. She emoted well with convincing histrionics fit for the Telugu screen."[34]

Rao had two major releases in 2008: drama My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves opposite newcomer Nikhil Dwivedi, and Shyam Benegal's comedy film Welcome to Sajjanpur. My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves received overwhelmingly negative reviews and performed poorly at the box office.[35] Rao's performance as an orphan who lives a middle-class lifestyle was praised by a few critics; OneIndia Entertainment noted, "Amrita Rao looks gorgeous, but her role isn't substantial enough."[36] In Welcome to Sajjanpur, Rao played the role of Kamala, a woman who is desperate for communication from her husband Bansiram (Kunal Kapoor), a laborer at a dockyard in Mumbai. Successful in creating an impact at the box office, the film obtained positive reviews from critics and earned 20 million (US$250,000), making it the second-highest-grossing film in Rao's career. Hindustan Times noted, "Amrita Rao is sweetness personified."[37] She received the Stardust Award for Best Actress for her performance in the film.[38] In the same year, Rao made a guest appearance as Nirja Rathore in the courtroom drama Shaurya.[39]

 
Rao walking the ramp for Archana Kochar at Lakme Fashion Week 2012

Rao made her debut as a Judge with the 2009 television show Perfect Bride.[40] She Judged the show alongside Shekhar Suman and Malaika Arora. She next starred with Harman Baweja in the 2009 film Victory. The film faced competition from other films such as Raaz 2 and Dev.D and failed to do well. With a huge budget, it only managed to gross 1 crore (US$130,000) and was declared a disaster by Boxoffice-India.[41] That same year, Rao took on the lead role in Neeraj Vora's comedy-drama Short Kut: The Con is On opposite Akshaye Khanna, produced by Anil Kapoor. The film stars Rao as Mansi, the girlfriend of Akshaye's character. Critical response towards the film and Rao's performance received negative reviews: The Indian Express's Shubhra Gupta noted: "Everything is loud and plastic, and the actors all chant their lines at the top of their voices."[42] Gaurav Malini of The Times of India stated, "Amrita Rao tries too hard to look hot but lacks oomph in every possible angle".[43] Though having grossed its budget back, it was considered a financial disappointment.[44]

Rao's only film of 2011 was Love U...Mr. Kalakaar! and her second collaboration with Rajshri Productions.[45] The movie generated mostly negative reviews and emerged as a commercial failure. Though, her performance as the daughter of a businessman was praised by the critics. Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India wrote, "Amrita Rao at best, but the film is so predictable and so long, it loses impact".[46] In later years, Rao made special appearances in comedy-drama Heyy Babyy (2007), romantic-comedy Life Partner (2007), and science fiction romance Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai (2010).

Further career and recent work (2013–present)

In 2013, Rao starred in the national award-winning, courtroom, comedy-drama Jolly LLB. She played the lead role of Sandhya, the girlfriend of Arshad Warsi's character. The film received positive reviews and won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi.[47] Rao with limited performance in the film received average applause. Mohar Basu of Koimoi commented, "Amrita Rao could have been avoided in the film altogether. Though she is immensely pleasant, she and her role have nothing to contribute to the film".[48]

Anil Sharma's action drama Singh Saab the Great was her next release. Co-starring alongside Sunny Deol, Rao played a journalist Shikha Chaturvedi.[49][50] The film was largely panned by critics but Rao's performance earned positive reviews.[51] Namrata Joshi of Outlook said, "Amrita Rao plays a role that feels like something she has already done, all the emotional support".[52] The film received predominately negative reviews, nevertheless was an above-average grosser at the box office with revenues of 29 crore (US$3.6 million). Later that year, she appeared alongside Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, and Manoj Bajpai in Prakash Jha's political drama Satyagraha. Rao played the role of Sumitra, the daughter-in-law of Amitabh Bachchan's character. Rao was praised in particular; Resham Sengar of Zee News wrote, "Ms. Rao has the sweetly cherubic looks. She is convincing in most of the emotional scenes. But again, her scope of performance is just limited to mouthing a few important dialogues."[53] The film was poorly received by critics and failed to make a profit at the box office.[54] Despite having moderate reviews, the film grossed over 60 crore (US$7.5 million) at the domestic box office.[55]

Rao made her Television acting debut in 2016 with &TV's Meri Awaaz Hi Pehchaan Hai portraying the elder sister Kalyani Gaikwad. The story showed three generations of two sisters whose lives revolve around music.[56] Her character's older version was played by Deepti Naval.[57]

After a five-year absence from the screen, Rao played leading role in Abhijit Panse's Thackeray, a biopic based on a right-wing pro-Marathi politician Balasaheb Thackeray. Rao played the role of Meena Thackeray, wife of Balasaheb Thackeray. The film as well as Rao received mixed to negative reviews from critics. Shilpa Jamkhandikar of Reuters wrote, "Amrita Rao, who plays Thackeray's wife, has the cosmetic role of providing endless cups of tea to visitors and gaze at her husband dotingly".[58]

Personal life and public image

 
Rao with husband RJ Anmol

After seven years of dating, Rao married her boyfriend, Anmol Sood, a Radio Jockey on 15 May 2016 in Mumbai.[59] She gave birth to a baby boy, Veer on 1 November 2020.[60] In February 2023, the couple launced their book "Couple of Things", and they own a YouTube channel with the same name.[61]

Rao has been part of many successful films and is often termed as "Bollywood's quintessential girl-next-door".[62] In Times' Most Desirable Women list, she ranked 24th in 2009 and 23rd in 2011.[63][64] M. F. Husain pronounced Rao as his second muse, 11 years after he painted Madhuri Dixit and made several paintings dedicated to the actress's role in Vivah (2006).[65][66]

On her career, Rao said, "I have done some unforgettable films that I believe will hold relevance for a very long time. Perhaps many newcomers today haven't even seen the back-to-back success that I have seen right from the start of my career. My journey has been easy, yet difficult, because I had to carve my own path by trial and error. But the taste of being self-made is the sweetest."[67]

Filmography

Films

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2002 Ab Ke Baras Anjali Thapar/Nandini [68]
The Legend of Bhagat Singh Mannewali [69]
2003 Ishq Vishk Payal Mehra [70]
2004 Masti Aanchal Mehta [19]
Main Hoon Na Sanjana (Sanju) Bakshi [71]
Deewaar: Let's Bring Our Heroes Home Radhika [72]
2005 Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi! Piya [73]
Shikhar Madhavi [74]
2006 Pyare Mohan Priya [75]
Vivah Poonam Mishra Bajpayee [76]
2007 Heyy Babyy Cameo Special appearance in song "Heyy Babyy" [77]
Athidhi Amrita Telugu film [78]
2008 My Name is Anthony Gonsalves Riya Singh [79]
Shaurya Neerja Rathore [80]
Welcome to Sajjanpur Kamla Kumbharan [81]
2009 Victory Nandini (Nandu) [82]
Short Kut Mansi [83]
Life Partner Anjali Kumar Oberoi Special appearance [84]
2010 Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai Tia Special appearance [85]
2011 Love U...Mr. Kalakaar! Ritu [86]
2013 Jolly LLB Sandhya (Sandhu) [87]
Singh Saab the Great Shikha Chaturvedi [88]
Satyagraha Sumitra Anand [89]
2014 Sulemani Keeda Cameo Special appearance [90]
2019 Thackeray Meena Tai Thackeray [91]

Television

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2009 Perfect Bride Judge [92]
2016 Meri Awaaz Hi Pehchaan Hai Kalyani Gaikwad [93]

Music videos

Year Title Singer(s) Label Ref.
2001 Woh Pyar Mera Alisha Chinoy Tips Music [12]
2008 Chalte Chalte Phir Jal Band Cornetto Icecream [94]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Film Result Ref(s)
2003 48th Filmfare Awards Best Female Debut Ab Ke Baras Nominated [95]
6th Zee Cine Awards Best Female Debut Nominated [96]
Screen Awards Most Promising Newcomer – Female Nominated [17]
Sansui Viewers' Choice Movie Awards Most Promising Debut Actress Ab Ke Baras & The Legend of Bhagat Singh Nominated [17]
2004 4th IIFA Awards Fresh Face of the Year Won [97]
Star Debut of the Year – Female Ishq Vishk Won [18]
Stardust Awards Superstar of Tomorrow – Female Won [17]
2005 50th Filmfare Awards Best Supporting Actress Main Hoon Na Nominated [95]
Bollywood Movie Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [98]
People's Choice Awards India Best Supporting Actress Nominated [17]
2006 Gr8! Women Achievers Award Young Achiever Won [99]
2007 Screen Awards Best Actress Vivah Nominated [100]
Anandalok Puraskar Most Promising Actress Won [101]
2009 Stardust Awards Best Actress Welcome to Sajjanpur Won [102]

See also

References

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