Kirron Kher was born on 14 June 1955 in a Jat Sikh family and grew up in Chandigarh. She was named 'Kiran' by her parents and her full name was 'Kiran Thakar Singh.' During the period of her first marriage to Gautam Berry, she was known as 'Kiran Berry.' When she married Anupam Kher, she resumed her maiden name and also added her latest husband's surname, being known as 'Kiran Thakar Singh Kher.' In later life, she developed a firm belief in numerology, and in 2003 (aged 48), she changed her name from "Kiran" to "Kirron" based on numerological calculations, dropped her maiden names, and came to be known as 'Kirron Kher.'
Kirron has one brother and two sisters. Her brother, the artist Amardeep Singh, died in 2003. One of her sisters is the Arjuna award-winning badminton player, Kanwal Thakar Kaur. Her other sister, Sharanjit Kaur Sandhu, is the wife of a retired senior officer of the Indian Navy.
Kirron completed her school education in Chandigarh, and then graduated from the Department of Indian Theatre of Panjab University, Chandigarh. She then married Gautam Berry, a rich Mumbai-based businessman, and had a son, Sikandar Kher.
In Mumbai, Kiran tried throughout the 1980s to get a foothold in the film industry, but without success. While visiting producer after producer seeking a role in films, Kirron renewed her acquaintance with Anupam Kher, who was also a similarly struggling actor, and whom she had known slightly at university in Chandigarh.Moving in the same theatre circles, they worked together in a play called Chandpuri Ki Champabai. In 1985, after Anupam had secured a break in films with Saaransh, Kirron divorced her husband, and they were married to each other the same year. They now run a production house together.
Kiran Kher made her film debut in 1983 in the Punjabi feature film Aasra Pyar Da, a non-descript production which sank without a trace. After this, she took a hiatus from films. Between 1983 and 1996, she appeared in exactly one film, Pestonjee (1987), wherein she acted in a bit role alongside her second husband Anupam Kher.
Her return to acting came in the mid-1990s, through theatre, with the play Saalgirah written by playwright Javed Siddiqui and directed by Feroz Abbas Khan. She then hosted three television shows, starting with the short-lived Purushkshetra on Zee TV which got attention for bringing out the discussion of alternative sexuality for the first time, while also highlighting women's issues. Kiron Kher Today and Jagte Raho with Kiron Kher, before doing Hindi films.
Her comeback film was by Shyam Benegal, Sardari Begum (1996), which won her the Special Jury Award at the 1997 National Film Awards.
She then appeared in film director Rituparno Ghosh's Bengali film Bariwali (1999), to critical acclaim. When she won the National Film Award for Best Actress for the film, a controversy arose as a Bangla film actress, Rita Koiral, claimed that she had dubbed for the character of Kiron, making her an equal claimant to the award. Kirron refuted the charges claiming she spent hours rehearsing for her dialogue delivery, and the award was eventually not shared.
In 2002, Kirron appeared in Devdas (2002), alongside Shahrukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai, and was nominated for the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award.
In Khamosh Pani (Silent Waters) (2003), a film that portrays the plight of a woman abducted during partition of India, her character not only refused to kill herself as suggested by her family, but marries her abductor and, after his death, makes an earning teaching Quran to local children. It shows how her life changes dramatically when her son takes up Islamic extremism in 1979 during the rule of Zia-ul-Haq and his process of Islamization of Pakistan. She won the Best Actress Award, at Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland, the Karachi International Film Festival, Karachi, and International Festivals at Ciepie in Argentina, and Cape Town in South Africa while the film won the Best Film – Golden Leopard, Festival Grand Prize at Locarno.
The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) 2004 paid tribute to Kirron during its annual festival.
In October 2004 Kirron made a guest appearance, along with her husband, in the American TV series ER playing Parminder Nagra's mother, Mrs. Rasgotra, in episode "Damaged."
In 2005, she played the role of Sunanda in the tele-serial Prratima on Sahara One channel, before which she had appeared in TV series like Dil Na Jaane Kyon (Zee TV), Isi Bahane, and Chausath Panne.
Despite playing mostly supporting roles, her successful movies include Main Hoon Na (2004), Hum Tum (2004), Veer-Zaara (2004), and Mangal Pandey: The Rising (2005), where her performance drew rave reviews. Her work in Rang De Basanti (2006) was a huge hit and her performance got her second nomination for the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award. Her role in Fanaa (2006) and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006) also received appreciation. Adding to her list of comical roles in 2008 she appeared in Singh is Kinng, Saas bahu aur Sensex and Dostana. In 2009, she appeared as judge on India's Got Talent, the Indian franchise of the Got Talent series.
Kirron Kher has been involved with non-profit movements such as Laadli (a campaign against female infanticide) and Roko Cancer (a campaign for awareness of cancer). She joined the Bhartiya Janata Party in 2009. She campaigned for the party in across the country during the elections, including in Chandigarh for the 2011 municipal corporation elections. She has been a vocal admirer of BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi since long before his candidature was announced. Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) declared her as the Lok Sabha candidate from Chandigarh for General Elections, 2014. Subsequently, in May 2014, she won the seat with 1,91,362 votes, defeating sitting MP, Congress leader Pawan Bansal who received 1,21,720 votes, while AAP’s Gul Panag came in third position with 1,08,679 votes.
As a Member of parliament from Chandigarh and having connection with the film industry, Kirron promised a film city for Chandigarh. After winning the seat, she said that she had difficulty in acquiring land in Chandigarh. However, her proposal was accepted by the Chandigarh Administration and the film city is proposed to be set up in Sarangpur, Chandigarh.1996: National Film Award – Special Jury Award: Sardari Begum
2000: National Film Award for Best Actress: Bariwali
2003: IIFA Best Supporting Actress Award: Devdas
2003: Locarno International Film Festival: Best Actress : Khamosh Pani (Silent Waters)
2003:5th Lux Style Awards: Lux Style Award for Best Film Actress for Khamosh Pani
2003: Karachi International Film Festival: Best Female Actor in a Leading Role: Khamosh Pani (Silent Waters)
2006: Star Screen Award Best Supporting Actress: Rang De Basanti
2010: Apsara Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Kurbaan
2011: Colors Golden Petal Award for Most Manoranjank Personality
2012: Colors Golden Petal Award for Most Dildaar Personality
2015: PTC Punjabi Film Awards: for Critics Award Best Actress: Punjab 1984