Happy Birthday Bebo! Let’s see if I can come up with a full 36 reasons to love you! I think I probably can.
1.1. I love you because you carefully chose your debut movie, picking one with a strong character, a good co-star, an unusual story, and a sex scene!
2. I love you because you worked hard, 4 films in the year following your debut, which managed to cement your name and face in the minds of the public, even if they weren’t very good.
3. I love you because you took a risk on Shahrukh’s vision for a big historic epic, even though you were only a few films old.
4. I love you because you followed up that “warrior princess” role with the complete opposite!
5. And I love you because you realized that you had found your niche, and stopped looking for different characters after that.
6. I love you because you survived a Kapoor childhood in the public eye (always a challenge!)
7. I love you because you watched and learned from your sister’s struggle to make it big after a so-so launch and too many roles in too many bad movies.
8. I love you because you took all those lessons to heart and picked your own launch film with an actor who could get a lot of buzz (Amitabh’s son!) but wouldn’t over-shadow you (in his first movie), with an accomplished reliable director (JP Dutta), and with a reasonable promotional campaign, expectations kept to the right level.
9. I love you because your string of lower budget not-so-great movies, mixed with big budget multi-starers, created a no fail combination to make you into a star. Any flops or failures weren’t blamed on you, and your name was always in people’s minds.
10. I love you because you turned down Kaho Na Pyar Hai, leaving in the middle of filming, because even as an untried actress, you knew the heroine role in that movie was going to be thankless, and all anyone would notice or talk about was Hrithik Roshan.
11. I love you because, when you finally did start co-starring with Hrithik, you proved you had the dancing chops to keep up with him. Or at least, not slow him down.
12. I love you because you did an entire song about the Pepsi logo. In a film! Not for an ad!
13. I love you because I freaking love Hulchul! And I think you did an amazing job in it. Especially in this song (love the opening!).
14. I love you because I also have a sneaking affection for 36 China Town. Especially this gloriously stupid song.
15. And now here’s the same song, but less stupid. Still Shahid and Kareena on a bus, but a little more fun-travelogue song, and a little less cutsey-slang-costume-changes.
16. I love you because you were in two separate movies named Talaash! And the first one was really really bad.
17. I love you because after co-starring with Fardeen Khan in the not-so-great movie Khushi, you did an amazing job in a searing performance opposite him again in the really-pretty-great-although-flawed movie Dev.
18. I love you because you were fearlessly open about your private life, openly acknowledging your relationship with Shahid Kapoor back before most actresses would even admit to dating.
20. I love you because you also weren’t afraid to take up the challenge and try your hand at being an Item Girl,
21. I love you because you did a Helen song, and you did it well enough that it wasn’t an insult to her memory.
22. I love you because this song is the only thing most people remember from Billu.
23. I love you because you took on the challenge of topping Malaika in the original Dabangg, and almost managed it!
24. I love you because this movie was ridiculous, and you are the only person who seemed to be having any fun with it.
25. And you were definitely the best part of this movie. Not an item song exactly, but definitely not a full-fledged role either.
26. I love you because you were as fearless to announce your second public romance, with the older Muslim divorced Saif Ali Khan, as you were to announce your first one.
27. I love you because you resisted the pressure to get married, and more or less openly lived with your boyfriend instead.
28. I love you because when you did get married, it was the biggest wedding in years. Really, 3 of the biggest weddings, with the Delhi and Bombay receptions, and the small legal ceremony.
29. I love you because you kept working and taking any part that interested you, from the wild troubled heroine of Heroine, to the older career woman of Ki & Ka, even after marriage.
30. I love you because you handled your pregnancy the same way you handled everything else in your private life. Calmly and publicly, not bothering to hide it, and also not letting it affect your work schedule.
31. I love you because everyone makes a big deal about your Jab We Met kiss, but you had already done it years earlier, for a scene that really truly required it (believe me, if you see it in context, it’s a whole thing about fighting for the soul of the hero that really works).
32. I love you because you responded to a bad public break-up by getting a massive make-over, and promptly starting a new relationship.
33. I love you because your nickname is so well known, there was a whole song about it!
34. I love you because you are able to make the most of a small role, to make it feel like it isn’t actually a small role, like in 3 Idiots.
35. And I love you because, when you are given the role that unexpectedly turns into the heart and soul of the film, you can pull it off beautifully.
36. I love you because you were part of one of my all time favorite songs!!!
37. I love you because you easily handled the most complicated and important role of the first all female film Hindi cinema has had in years.
38. And finally, I love you because your baby is just the most ADORABLE!!!!