Childhood & Early Life
Arora was born on October 23, 1973, in Thane, a suburb of Mumbai, in Maharashtra, India, to Anil Arora, who is from Punjab and has worked for the ‘Merchant Navy,’ and Joyce Polycarp, who is a Malyali (from Kerala) Catholic. She has a younger sister, Amrita Arora, who is an actor, too. The name “Malaika” means “Angel” in Swahili.
At 4, Arora began training in dance. She studied in an all-girl school, ‘Holy Cross Convent High School,’ in Thane. Her parents divorced when she was 11 years old. Following this, her mother moved to Borla Society, in Chembur (another suburb of Mumbai), with her two daughters. Arora completed her schooling from the ‘Swami Vivekanand School,’ Chembur, where her aunt, Grace Polycarp, was the principal. She then joined ‘Jai Hind College’ in Churchgate but did not complete her college education due to work assignments.
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Since childhood, Arora enjoyed being in front of the camera and aspired to be a model. When she was 17, photographer Suresh Natarajan clicked some pictures of hers, which were seen and liked by the then editor of the magazine ‘Society,’ Suma Varghese. Arora appeared in the April 1993 issue of ‘Society’ and soon started receiving modeling assignments.
Arora has appeared in campaigns of several brands, such as ‘Mafatlal,’ ‘Tanishq,’ ‘Benzer,’ ‘Bare Necessities,’ ‘Pearl Pet,’ ‘Tribhuvandas Bhimji Zaveri,’ and ‘De Beers.’ As a model, she has traveled to various countries for shows. During an assignment for ‘MR Coffee’ (which attracted immense notoriety), she met actor Arbaaz Khan, whom she later married.
During this period, ‘MTV’ was launched in India. Arora was selected as an MTV VJ and the host for the show ‘Club MTV.’ She enjoyed this job, as it involved talking and interacting with people. For a period, she handled both modeling and VJ-ing with equal ease. She appeared on ‘MTV’ shows as ‘Love Line’ and ‘Style Check,’ along with co-host Cyrus Broacha.
In 1998, Arora was seen in Bally Sagoo and Malkit Singh’s music video ‘Gur Naalo Ishq Mitha,’ in which she appeared opposite Jas Arora. This was followed by her dance number ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ in the film ‘Dil Se..’ (1998). This dance was performed on top of a moving train and featured Arora and Shah Rukh Khan. It brought her immense fame and accolades. In 1999, she appeared with her then husband, Arbaaz Khan, in the music video of the song ‘Dholna’ by singer Shubha Mudgal.
In an interview, Arora said that she was never interested in acting. Thus, she has been seen as an actor in few films. She appeared as ‘Nancy’ in ‘EMI – Liya Hai Toh Chukana Padega’ (2008). However, the film was not commercially successful. She made cameo appearances in films such as ‘Maa Tujhhe Salaam,’ ‘Om Shanti Om,’ ‘Helloo India,’ ‘Housefull,’ and ‘Happy New Year.’
Arora is chiefly remembered for her dance numbers, which include ‘Ekwari Tak Le’ (from ‘Bichhoo,’ 2000), ‘Maahi Ve’ (from ‘Kaante,’ 2002), ‘Kaal Dhamaal’ (from ‘Kaal,’ 2005), ‘Heyy Babyy’ (from ‘Heyy Babyy,’ 2007), ‘Hoth Rasiley’ (from ‘Welcome,’ 2007), ‘Munni Badnaam Hui’ (from ‘Dabangg,’ 2010), ‘Anarkali Disco Chali’ (from ‘Housefull 2,’ 2012), and many others.
In 2005, Arora began appearing as a celebrity judge on various TV reality shows, especially dance shows. She was a judge in the first two seasons of ‘Nach Baliye’ (2005–2006) and in ‘Zara Nachke Dikha’ (2008), on ‘Star One.’ Later, she appeared as a judge in seasons 4 and 8 of ‘Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa’ (2010 and 2015). From 2012 to date, she has been judging the ‘Colors TV’ reality show ‘India’s Got Talent.’ She has been hosting and judging the show ‘India’s Next Top Model’ for ‘MTV India’ since 2017.
Along with her actor-producer husband Arbaaz Khan, Arora turned producer with the award-winning movie ‘Dabangg’ (2010). Later, she co-produced ‘Dabangg 2’ (2012) and ‘Dolly Ki Doli’ (2015).
In 2007, Arora was named the “Sexiest Woman” by men’s magazine ‘Maxim.’ She runs her own yoga studio, ‘Divayoga,’ in Mumbai, which was launched in 2018. Along with Bipasha Basu and Sussanne Khan, Arora has been contributing as a style editor of the lifestyle brand ‘The Label Life’ since 2015.
Family & Personal Life
In 1993, Arora met actor-producer Arbaaz Khan, son of screenwriter Salim Khan and brother of actors Salman Khan and Sohail Khan, during an ad campaign. The two got married on December 12, 1998. They have a son, Arhaan, who was born on November 9, 2002.
The couple separated in March 2016 and divorced on May 11, 2017. Following the divorce, she dropped “Khan” from her name.
Reportedly, Arora is currently in a relationship with actor Arjun Kapoor, son of film producer Boney Kapoor and his ex-wife, the late Mona Shourie Kapoor.