Sara Ali Khan (pronounced [saːɾaː əˈli ˈxaːn]; born 12 August 1995) is an Indian actress who works in Hindi films. A member of the Pataudi family, she is the daughter of actors Amrita Singh and Saif Ali Khan and the paternal granddaughter of Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi and Sharmila Tagore. After graduating from Columbia University, Khan ventured into acting by playing the leading lady in the 2018 films Kedarnath and Simmba.
Early life and background
Sara Ali Khan was born on 12 August 1995 in Mumbai to Saif Ali Khan, son of Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi and Sharmila Tagore, and Amrita Singh; both actors of the Hindi film industry. A member of the Pataudi family, she is also the maternal granddaughter of Rukhsana Sultana and Shivinder Singh Virk. She has a younger brother, Ibrahim Ali Khan. Her half-brother, Taimur Ali Khan, is Saif's son from his second marriage to Kareena Kapoor. Khan is of predominantly Bengali and Pathan descent on her father's side, and of Punjabi descent on her mother's side.
When Khan was a four year-old, she acted in an advertisement. According to Saif, the actress Aishwarya Rai proved to be her inspiration for pursuing a career in film after she saw her perform on stage at Chicago. In 2004, when Khan was nine, her parents divorced, and Singh was granted legal guardianship of her children. Saif was initially not allowed to see her or her brother; they have since reconciled, and, according to Saif, "are more like friends [than father and daughter]". Khan also shares a healthy relationship with Kapoor, her step-mother; she stated in 2018, "I would like to imbibe her professionalism in me".
As a teenager, Khan struggled with her weight, and had to undergo daily workouts under a strict schedule to get fit. She was also diagnosed as having Polycystic ovary syndrome, which she ascribes as a cause for her weight gain. Khan gained more weight while pursuing a four-year course in law and political science at the Columbia University in New York. In 2016, she completed her graduation early, within three years, and took off the remaining one-and-a-half years for weight training, following which she returned to India.
Khan's debut came in 2018 with the Abhishek Kapoor-directed inter-faith romance Kedarnath, in which she played a Hindu girl who falls in love with a Muslim porter played by Sushant Singh Rajput. In preparation for her role, Khan improved her knowledge of Hindi vocabulary with help from Rajput. In February 2018, a dispute between Kapoor and KriArj Entertainment, the producers, led to the latter losing the film's rights to RSVP Movies, who produced it alongside Kapoor. A few weeks before release, priests of Kedarnath Temple demanded the film's boycott as they believed it promoted Love Jihad, and a Bharatiya Janata Party leader also urged for a ban. As a result, the film was banned in the state of Uttarakhand. Kedarnath received mixed reviews with praise directed to Khan's performance. Kunal Guha of Mumbai Mirror found it to be a rehash of 1980s Hindi films but appreciated Khan's act: "When her Mukku is angry, hopeful, desperate or coltish, she often conveys it through her eyes alone — giving us a taste of the diverse faces she can throw on." Meena Iyer of Daily News and Analysis similarly wrote, "It is hard to believe that this is [Khan's] first film because she is so spectacular". Kedarnath grossed over ₹966 million (US$13 million) worldwide against a budget of ₹350 million (US$4.9 million) to emerge as a commercial success.
A few weeks after the release of Kedarnath, Khan starred in Rohit Shetty's action film Simmba, alongside Ranveer Singh, which was loosely based on the Telugu-language film Temper (2015). She began work on it when filming of Kedarnath was temporarily suspended. This led to Abhishek Kapoor suing Khan; they later settled out of court when she agreed to split her time between both films. Reviewing the film for The Times of India, Ronak Kotecha opined that Khan had "precious little to do besides looking breathtakingly beautiful" and disliked the chemistry between her and Singh. With worldwide earnings of ₹3.85 billion (US$54 million), Simmba emerged as the third highest-grossing Hindi film of 2018.