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.Although she confesses to loneliness in the boarding school, she noted that it was compensated by her finding a "... Upon graduating from the boarding school in Sanawar (The Lawrence School) at age 18, Zinta enrolled at St. She graduated college with an English honours degree, and then started a graduate programme in psychology.
She followed with the leading role alongside Akshay Kumar in Sangharsh, a thriller directed by Tanuja Chandra and written by Mahesh Bhatt.
Zinta portrayed the character of Reet Oberoi, a CBI officer who falls in love with a captured killer played by Kumar.
Having been impressed with Zinta's work in Dil Se, Chandra approached her for the part after several leading actresses had refused the offer, which Zinta viewed as an opportunity to expand her range.
An article published by The Tribune upon the film's release described her performance as "an amazing act" in an "intense film", documenting her career path thus far with the observation, "She wowed the audiences with her cameo in Dil Se, then she zapped the viewers with her sensuality in Soldier and now Preity Zinta is all set to shock everybody with her stark performance [in Sangharsh]." Her portrayal of Priya Bakshi, a teenage single mother who fights social prejudice, earned her several award nominations, including her first nomination for Best Actress at the Filmfare Awards.
in 1998, followed by a role in Soldier in the same year.