Mukerji comes from a film-oriented family of Bengali origin. Her father Ram Mukherjee is a retired director and one of the founders of 'Filmalaya Studios'. Her mother Krishna was a playback singer. Her brother Raja Mukherjee is a film producer, now turned director. Her maternal aunt, Debashree Roy, was a Bengali-film actress and her cousin Kajol is a Bollywood actress. Mukerji is a trained Odissi dancer, and began learning the dance in tenth grade. Mukerji studied at Maneckjee Cooper High School in Juhu, and later enrolled at Mithibai College in Mumbai.
While in school at the age of 14, Mukerji did a cameo role in her father's Bengali film Biyar Phool (1992). In 1994, Salim Akhtar, a family friend, offered her a film called Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1994) but her father was against it as she was too young. Mukerji turned down the offer and Urmila Matondkar was cast instead. Two years later, Salim Akhtar came up with another offer and insisted on her playing the protagonist of Raja Ki Ayegi Baraat (1997). After a long discussion with her father, she agreed to do the film. When the film was unsuccessful at the box office, Mukerji returned to college to complete her education.
She changed the English transliteration of her surname from Mukherjee to Mukerji several years ago. At the time, it was reported that she did this for numerological reasons. Recently, she has claimed that numerology was not a concern; her name had been put down as Mukerji on her passport, and she wished to harmonize her name and her passport. She is the first actor to ever win both the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress trophies in a single year (2005) at the Filmfare.
Two movies in which she appeared have been India's entry to the Academy Awards. Paheli (2005) was the official entry for the 2006 Oscars. Hey Ram (2000) was an earlier entry. Appeared at the Closing Ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, as part of a performance showcasing Indian culture, on behalf of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, to be held in New Delhi.
Besides acting in films, she also does many charity appearances for noble causes. Her most noteworthy show was Temptations 2005 where she performed in New Delhi. The event provided the opportunity to raise funds for National Centre For Promotional of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), a leading disabled rights group. Shahrukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra were also amongst the many who contributed to this cause.
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