Bollywood Superstars: Numero Uno leading ladies-Number 1 Actresses from Bollywood over the years

top ten best actresses of India

Bollywood has produced many great movies, actors and actresses in last few decades. Though Indian cinema is now more than 100 years old, for this comparison of the best of Bollywood actresses with the best, the figures used are 1947 onwards. FilmsplusMovies will present our list of the best actresses from Bollywood ever, on the basis of some calculations. The facts on which this article is based come from BoxofficeIndia and a few other reputed Indian box office related magazines and websites. We have focused on the number of years an actress has spent as Numero Uno, importance of roles she has played, diversity, and how our beloved Numero Unos have managed their careers as they progressed. This article is not opinion, but facts. 

Top 10 Actresses of Bollywood looking at the duration of successful career:

Hema Malini
Vyjayanthimala
Sridevi
Nargis
Meena Kumari
Madhuri Dixit
Aishwarya Rai
Zeenat Aman
Madhubala
Asha Parekh

Hema Malini’s successful career spans over 16 years, which is the longest for any leading lady in India. No wonder she is still called as “Dream Girl” of Indian Cinema. Vyjayanthimala had 14 successful years in her career. Sridevi who is often called as the first female superstar of India ruled the box office for 11 years. Nargis, Meena Kumari, Madhuri, Aishwarya Rai all had at least 10 successful years in their careers. Zeenat Aman recorded hits for 8 years, while Madhubala who died at a very young age of 36 had 7 successful years as leading actress. Asha Paresh also enjoyed this success of stardom for 7 years.

famous bollywood actress Vyjayanthimala Bai

Top 10 Actresses of Bollywood according to the versatility of roles they have played:

In this list, along with the fact that versatility is given its due importance, we have also focused on the quality of wok done by these Bollywood actresses. Length of roles and importance of their roles in the movie is also considered.

Sridevi
Rekha
Madhuri Dixit
Meena Kumari
Aishwarya Rai
Nargis
Rani Mukherjee
Hema Malini
Vyjayanthimala
Madhubala

 famous bollywood actress sridevi

Sridevi is the most versatile actress from Indian silver screen. Sridevi who started her career at a very young age in Southern cinema was highly experienced in acting and film making by the time she made her debut in Indian (Hindi) cinema. Though in the first couple of years after her first commercial masala super hit Himmat wala (1983), she performed some beautiful-girl-in-distress kind of roles, but looking at her top 15 performances she was highly versatile. Starting with a child prostitute’s role in Sadma (1983), she went on to adopt the commercial touch in Himmat wala (1983), then on to becoming a snake woman in Nagina (1986), to hilarious comedy in Chaalbaaz (1989) to an innocent woman caught in drugs trafficking case in Gumrah (1993) to a rude and rigid millionaire and business woman in Laadla (1994) and so on. Her role of a house wife who sells her husband to get her dream of owning a bunglow in Judaai (1997) cannot be under rated. Though her performance in Khuda Gawah (1992) and Master ji (1985) was also highly appreciated, Sridevi is still appreciated for her simple yet beautiful portrayal of being a crime reporter in Mr. India (1987). She performed as a young singer who was by force made into a drug addict to avenge her lover’s deeds in Jaanbaaz (1987). Who can forget that perfectly eastern, elegant yet very intriguing Chandni look (1989). Lamhe (1991) was not a huge hit, but was a landmark movie in Sridevi’s career.  Aakhri Raasta (1987) and Karma (1986) saw her in less important roles but it was her charm and great potential of acting that her performance in those movies is still remembered by all. Though not trained, she has performed the best Tandavs in Indian film history like the one in Chaalbaaz, Chandni and Lamhe. All in all, Sridevi very easily qualifies as the most versatile actress from India.

famous indian cinema's actress sridevi

Closely following Sridevi in the versatility of roles are Rekha and Madhuri Dixit. Where Sridevi hesitated and (other than Sadma) never performed the role of a prostitute, Rekha was always the epitome of elegance playing a prostitute. Her most famous role of Zehra Bai from Muqaddar ka Sikender (1978) is still one of her most popular roles ever.

Gorgeous and famous female actor of Bollywood rekha

Moving from the somewhat clumsy southern youngster to becoming Superstar Rekha (who was at one time called as Lady Amitabh Bachchan in India) performed diverse roles like Umrao Jaan (1985), Ijazat (1989), a woman fighting back for her rights in Khoon Bhari Maang (1989), a sensual lover who loses the love of her life to circumstances in Silsila (1981), a fighter who kills her husband’s killers in Insaf ki Devi (1987) and a lot more. Rekha has also done her bit of masala movies. She has also performed some simple house wife or middle class working woman roles like the one in Agar Tum na hotey (1982). Rekha has done some good light comedies too which include Meri biwi ka Jawab nh and Khoobsurat. Rekha, the famous Indian actress has also done some movies on Taboo topics. Kama Sutra is one example. Where Sridevi always avoided roles which were too bold for her or which required a lot of skin show, Rekha was experimental by nature. Though she has never exposed to the level of making family audience uncomfortable, she was definitely bolder than Sridevi. The two women were close friends and Rekha is known for handing down make up and glamour tips to Sridevi, which the later used very creatively to remain Numero Uno of Bollywood for a time period longer than that of Rekha herself.

One of the most gorgeous and famous actress of India Madhuri Dixit

Madhuri Dixit aka the Dhak Dhak Girl! Madhuri has shown a maturity in her role selection towards the end of her career. Starting off in 1984, Madhuri was type casted as a damsel-in-distress kind of roles for first 3-4 years of her career. Things changed for her after Tezaab (1987). She made a slow and steady progress by scoring a hit movie every year from 1987 to 1994, where with Hum Aap ke hein Kaun (1994) she actually became the Numero Uno. Madhuri has performed various kinds of roles, proving her acting caliber time and again. Though many initially liked her for her charismatic smile and her brilliant dancing skills, she proved herself to be much more than that. Looking at her performance in Devdas, Hum Aap k hein kaun (1994), Beta (1992) and Anjaam (1994), one can see that she has performed really well in all roles. From being a prostitute in Devdas to the woman avenging destruction of her family life in Anjaam (1994), she has been versatile. Madhuri Dixit’s best acting performances came in the movies like Lajja where she played a smaller yet very powerful role. Dil (1990), Saajan (1991) and especially KhalNayak (1993) were important movies of her career which established her as a versatile actress. Though she performed well in Pukar (2000) and Raja (1995), Mirtyudand (1997) was probably her best performance where she acted along with Shabana Azmi the veteran actress.

Although Hema, Madhubala, Meena Kumari and others on the list of versatile actresses have performed really well in many movies, none of them was as versatile as these top three leading ladies.

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MairaS (755 Posts)

Webpreneur. CEO ContentCreatorZ Pakistan. Managing Partner Media Marketing Services.


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3 Comments

  1. Posted February 28, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Madhuri Dixit is really an outstanding actress.Among her many films,i like her performance in Anjaam(1994) as Shibany Chopra,an avenger.I don’t know why she got filmfare best actress nomination for the role.She should get the award for this role instead of HAHK which took the advantage for being the highest grossing film of the year despite the fact that Anjaam’s role was much more challanging and tough than HAHK.

  2. Tyagi
    Posted October 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Sridevi indeed remains the MOST VERSATILE ACTRESS EVER of Indian Cinema. No other actress even comes close to this icon of cinema. The sheer range of characters she played in not just Hindi but even Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam films is testimony to her legendary talent.

  3. Snehil
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Madhuri Dixit successfull career was from 1988 to 2002………………….. almost 14 years

    Sridevi from 1984 to 1996

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