A successful actor, owner of a cricket team, an activist and everyone’s heartthrob, Preity Zinta needs no further introduction. Known for portraying strong woman-oriented roles in her films, the dimpled girl has come a long way since her first TV commercial appearance for Liril and Perk. Today, on her 42nd birthday, I am here to tell you why boys in 90s were all crushing on her.

In her 18-year-long illustrious career, Preity has won accolades both in reel and real life. She is the owner of Indian Premier League (IPL) team Kings XI Punjab, which had made it to the final of the cash-rich cricket extravaganza. Besides being a successful actor, she is known for her courage. After a fallout with her then beau Ness Wadia, Preity showed indomitable courage and went on to file an FIR against him in the case.

In February last year, Preity tied the knot with American business tycoon Gene Goodenough and is now enjoying a happy married life. But why am I writing these things which are already in public domain? My reasons for liking her are extremely personal. For most of the youngsters born in the 90s, I had a crush on her.

There is something about Preity which had people fall in love with her. When Shah Rukh Khan confesses his ‘love’ for Naina (character played by her) in Kal Ho Naa Ho, you feel sorry for her.

I still remember how moved I was when she confronts Aman (SRK) at Times Square in the same film why did he love her.

If you thought Preity could only play Naina, my friend you are living in a bubble. She has portrayed characters who refuse to bow down to social compulsions and take independent decisions. Be it Priya in Kya Kehna who despite facing opposition from her parents goes ahead to give birth to her love child from a failed affair. Or a strong working Rhea from Kabhi Alvidaa Na Kehna who leaves her husband after he admits his extra-marital affair. Just have a look at this scene.

Besides her acting prowess which nobody could question, Preity still remains as adorable as ever. Her fans would remember her as pretty Zaara in Yash Chopra’s love saga Veer Zaara, which won a lot of hearts. The chemistry between Shah Rukh Khan and her was magical. The song Main Yahaan Hoon from the film remains my favourite.

Fear, what’s that?

It is no denial that the underworld instilled fear in the Hindi film industry during the 90s. Especially after music baron Gulshan Kumar’s cold-blooded murder in broad daylight, several tinsel town stars were too scared to stand up against the mafia. During the shooting of Chori Chori Chupke Chupke in 2000, Preity admitted to receiving threatening calls for extortion. It is the film which was alleged to have been financed by Chota Shakeel of Dawood Ibrahim gang. There have been speculations of the underworld financing Bollywood films, often allegedly threatening stars to act in them. While most of the stars turned hostile from their statements, Preity refused to do so, unfazed by the repeated threats she received for her stand. She was conferred with the Godfrey Phillips Bravery Award for her courage.

Doesn’t she have the qualities of a superwoman? We wish her Happy Birthday.