Without its main female characters, Bollywood would not be the same. Here are some of our favourite movie stars from the past:
Mukherji, Rani Who else can portray a blind, deaf, dumb person (Black, 2005), a prostitute (Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, 2007), and a guy (Dil Bole Hadippa, 2009)? Mukherji has received numerous Best Actress nominations, which comes as no surprise. Ranga Thangarajah writes for Anokhi Magazine.
Rekha Rekha is the only woman who can pull off wearing gold from head to toe. Her 40-year career is largely due to her ability to reinvent herself in every job.
Nargis Nargis made almost 90 films before succumbing to pancreatic cancer in 1981, just days before her son, Sanjay Dutt, made his Bollywood debut. Her legacy, which includes an Oscar nomination for her performance in the rural drama Mother India (1957), carries on at the National Film Awards, where the Nargis Dutt Award for best feature film is named in her honour.
Priyanka Chopra is a celebrity. Former Miss World and Bollywood beauty Everyone’s favourite Desi girl is Priyanka Chopra. And, while her voluptuous shape helps, she’s maintained her spot in the film industry through hard work. She earned the prestigious National Film Award in 2008 for her performance in Fashion, in which she plays an ambitious model attempting to make it in a brutal and competitive industry, and she has garnered numerous prizes for “hotties with golden hearts” in other films.
Kareena Kapoor is an actress. Born into the Kapoor cinema dynasty (India’s equivalent of the Barrymores), this actress has carried on her family history in parts ranging from the ostensibly rebellious “Poo” in Kabi Khushi Kabhie Gham to a prostitute caught up in love in Chameli to an independent-minded medical student in 3 Idiots.
Katrina Kaif is an actress. When English-born Katrina Kaif joined Bollywood, it was heralded as the return of the British to India. Despite only a few commercial hits since her debut in 2005, the actress and model has become a fan favourite. Her unique selling point is a captivating on-screen presence combined with a lovely off-screen innocence.
Madhuri Dixit is an actress. The most graceful leading lady in Hindi cinema made her Bollywood debut in the 1980s. Despite the fact that she is now a mother of two, she continues to dazzle with a girl-next-door grin and, more importantly, fluid dance abilities.
Meena Kumari is an actress. Bollywood’s “Tragedy Queen,” Kumari, is most remembered for her roles as an alcoholic wife in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962), which is still regarded as one of the best performances in Hindi cinema, and as a courtesan who falls in love with a local aristocrat in Pakeeza (1972). Her off-screen life quickly became a reflection of her damaged characters, which was devastating. She committed suicide at the age of 39, two weeks after Pakeeza was released.
Deepika Padukone is an Indian actress. Padukone, the supermodel-turned-actress, is more than just a lovely face. Her Bollywood skills won her the main role alongside Shahrukh Khan, the King of Bollywood, in the 2007 hit Om Shanti Om. And she’s now one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood (as well as a brand ambassador for businesses like Maybelline and Levi’s).
Hema Malini Known as “The Dream Girl of Bollywood” after the film of the same name in which she played alongside her future husband Dharmendra, this dancing queen enjoyed critical success throughout the 1970s. She now devotes the majority of her time to humanitarian work, but she does appear in films on occasion.