Preity Zinta (born 31 January 1975) is an Indian film actress. She has appeared in Hindi films, as well as Telugu, Punjabi and English language films. After graduating with a degree in criminal psychology, Zinta made her acting debut in Dil Se.. in 1998 followed by a role in Soldier the same year. These performances earned her a Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut, and she was later recognised for her role as a teenage single mother in Kya Kehna (2000). She subsequently established a career with a variety of character types; her film roles along with her screen persona have been credited with contributing to a change in the concept of a Hindi film heroine, and won her several accolades. Zinta received the Filmfare Award for Best Actress in 2003 for her performance in the romantic drama Kal Ho Naa Ho. She went on to play the lead female role in two consecutive annual top-grossing films in India, the science fiction film Koi... Mil Gaya (2003), which is her biggest commercial success, and the star-crossed romance Veer-Zaara (2004), which earned her critical acclaim. She was later noted for her portrayal of independent, modern Indian women in Salaam Namaste (2005) and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006), top-grossing productions in overseas markets. These accomplishments have established her as a leading actress of Hindi cinema. Her first international film role was in the Canadian film Heaven on Earth, for which she was awarded the Silver Hugo Award for Best Actress at the 2008 Chicago International Film Festival. In addition to acting in films, Zinta has written a series of columns for BBC News Online South Asia. She is a social activist, a television presenter, and a regular stage performer at the same time. She is the founder of the production company PZNZ Media and, along with ex-boyfriend Ness Wadia, a co-owner of the Indian Premier League cricket team Kings XI Punjab. She is known in the Indian media for publicly speaking her mind and openly expressing her opinions, and consequently has sparked the occasional controversy. These controversies include her being the only witness not to retract in court her earlier statements against the Indian mafia during the 2003 Bharat Shah case, for which she was awarded the Godfrey Phillips National Bravery Award.