After the gap of 1 year I have finally come up with the last part of Popular Actresses series on abhisays.com. This part is dedicated to Indian actresses of 21st century. The 2000s saw the internationalization of Indian Cinema. Bollywood film making process reached to new heights in terms of quality, cinematography and innovative story lines as well as technical advances in areas such as special effects, animation, etc. The opening up of the overseas market, more Bollywood releases abroad and the explosion of multiplexes in big cities, led to wider box office successes in India and abroad. The important films of this era include Lagaan, Devdas, Koi Mil Gaya, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Veer-Zaara, Rang De Basanti, Lage Raho Munnabhai, Krrish, Dhoom 2, Om Shanti Om, Chak De India, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and Ghajini, delivering a new generation of popular actresses like Aishwarya Rai, Preity Zinta, Rani Mukerji and Kareena Kapoor.
Aishwarya Rai — Aishwarya Rai is one of the most popular actresses of the current Hindi film industry. She is also former Miss World. Before starting her career in Bollywood, she was a model and came into limelight after winning the Miss World title in 1994. A few years back, she was declared the most beautiful woman in the world. She made her debut in movies with Mani Ratnam’s Tamil film Iruvar (1997) and had her first commercial success in the Tamil movie Jeans (1998). Her first major breakthrough was movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam in 1999, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. For this performance she won her first Filmfare Best Actress Award. In her next film with Bhansali, Devdas (2002), she won her second Best Actress Award at the Filmfare. Then after gap of 4 years she rocked the film industry with blockbuster movie Dhoom 2 (2006), which finally turned out to be her biggest Bollywood commercial success.
She later appeared in films like Guru (2007) and Jodhaa Akbar (2008), which were commercially successful and got her critical acclaim. Through these super-hit movies, she established herself as one of the leading contemporary actresses in the Indian film industry. She also acted in hollywood movies like Bride & Prejudice (2003), The Mistress of Spices (2005), The Last Legion (2007) and The Pink Panther 2 (2009).
Katrina Kaif — She was born in Hong Kong. Her father was Kashmiri Muslim and mother was a British. She was raised in Hawaii and later moved to her mother’s home country, England. At an early age of 14 she started modeling for ad films in London. Her modeling work led to her discovery by London-based filmmaker Kaizad Gustad, who gave her a part in his film Boom (2003). At that time she couldn’t know Hindi. She gained media attention with the success 2005 film Sarkar where she played the role Abhishek Bachchan’s girlfriend. Her next release, Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya (2005), where she was paired opposite Salman Khan. For this movie she won the Stardust Breakthrough Performance Award. In 2007 Katrina appeared in the hit movie Namastey London, wherein she starred as a British-Indian girl alongside Akshay Kumar for the second time after the box office dud Humko Deewana Kar Gaye (2006). Since then, she had appeared in a series of box office hits that include Apne, Partner and Welcome. 2008 saw her play a negative role for the first time in Abbas-Mustan’s success action thriller Race.
She played the role of Saif Ali Khan’s secretary who is secretly in love with his hostile stepbrother played by Akshay Khanna. Kaif’s second release of the year was Anees Bazmee’s production Singh is Kinng, opposite Akshay Kumar. Upon release the film was a big success at the box office. However her next release Subhash Ghai’s Yuvvraaj, was a disaster at the box-office. Her first release for 2009, New York, with John Abraham was a critical and commercial success. With these hit movies, she has become one of the strong contenders for the number one film actress in Hindi film industry.
Rani Mukerji — She is cousin of Kajol, one of the most popular Indian actresses during 90s. Rani made her acting debut with Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat movie in 1996 where she played the role of a rape victim. However this movie was a failure at the box office. She got her first commercial success with Ghulam where she was opposite to Amir Khan. After Ghulam, she worked in Karan Johar’s movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), her biggest hit so far, and won a Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award for her performance in the film. After 2-3 years she again got some success in the movie Saathiya (2002), which was commercially and critically successful. In 2003 she played the lead role in Chalte Chalte opposite to Shahrukh Khan. For this movie, she got her second nomination for Filmfare Best Actress Award.
Next year, her performance as a Bengali housewife in Mani Ratnam’s Yuva won her second Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award. Though the film failed to do well, her performance was critically acclaimed. In the same year, she won Best Actress award for the super-hit movie Hum Tum. The movie was based on a popular Hollywood movie “When Harry met Sally”. In this way she became the first actress to win two major film fare awards in the same year.
She received unanimous praise for her role as a deaf and blind girl in the film Black (2005). In 2006 she came up with lead role in Karan Johar’s Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, which emerged as the most successful movie ever overseas. Rani played the role of Maya Talwar, a woman layered with self-doubt and question about the relationship between her and her husband, played by Abhishek Bachchan. Her performance was appreciated by the film critics. She is now one of the leading actresses in Bollywood.
Preity Zinta — Preity Zinta made her acting debut in Dil Se in 1998. Dil Se was followed by Soldier in the same year. Both the movies were big hits of the year. These performances earned her a Filmfare Best Female Debut Award, and she was later recognised for her role as a teenage single mother in Kya Kehna (2000). Preity Zinta received her first Filmfare Best Actress Award in 2003 for her performance in the drama Kal Ho Naa Ho. She also played the lead role in the science fiction movie Koi Mil Gaya, her biggest commercial success, and the romantic Veer-Zaara, which earned her critical acclaim. She also portrayed the modern Indian women in Salaam Namaste and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, top-grossing productions in overseas markets.
These movies established her as a leading actress of Hindi cinema. Her first international film role was in the Canadian film Heaven on Earth, for which she was awarded the Silver Hugo Award for Best Actress at the 2008 Chicago International Film Festival. Along with ex-boyfriend Ness Wadia she is a co-owner of the Indian Premier League cricket team Kings XI Punjab.
Priyanka Chopra — Before starting her career in Bollywood, she worked as a super-model and gained popularity after winning the Miss World crown in the year 2000. She made her acting debut with the 2002 Tamil film Thamizhan. The following year, she made her Hindi film debut with The Hero: Love Story of a Spy and followed it with the hit Andaaz, for which she won a Filmfare Best Female Debut Award. In 2004 she became the second woman to win the Filmfare Best Villain Award, which she received for her critically acclaimed performance in Aitraaz. She got big commercial successes with movies like Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004), Krrish (2006) and Don. Last year She won the Filmfare Best Actress Award for her portrayal of a model in Fashion movie. Now a day, she is regarded as one of the leading contemporary actresses in Bollywood.
Bipasha Basu — Before joining the Hindi film industry she used to work as a model in ad films. She made her film debut in Abbas Mustan’s Ajnabee, with Akshay Kumar, Bobby Deol and Kareena Kapoor. In this movie, she played a married woman who goes all out to woo her husband’s married friend, and eventually won the Filmfare Best Female Debut Award for her performance. She appeared as Sonia Khanna in the 2003 hit movie Jism alongside current boyfriend John Abraham. The movie earned her a Filmfare Best Villain Award nomination. In 2006, she won popular acclaim for her performance in an Item number during the song Beedi in the film Omkara.
In 2008 Basu starred in Race, her second collaboration with duo Abbas Mustan, with whom she debuted in Bollywood. Co-starring Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Anil Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, the film performed well at the box office, and Basu’s performance was appreciated by critics. She also received good reviews for her role in Bachna Ae Haseeno opposite Ranbir Kapoor. In 2009 Bipasha signed her first Hollywood venture Chaimera alongside Billy Zane.
Deepika Padukone — 23 years old Deepika is one of the brightest and most famous actresses of the contemporary Hindi film industry. She is daughter of famous badminton player Prakash Padukone. In 2006, She made her cinematic debut in the Kannada film Aishwarya starring opposite actor Upendra. She later made a successful Bollywood debut in 2007 with Farah Khan’s international hit Om Shanti Om opposite Shahrukh Khan. In Om Shanti Om, she played the role of film actress Shantipriya and in second half of the film, the role of Sandhya, a young woman who looks exactly like Shantipriya. Her performance was well received, earning the actress a Filmfare Best Female Debut Award as well as her first Filmfare Best Actress nomination.
Her second film was Siddharth Anand’s Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008) opposite Ranbir Kapoor and then the Warner Bros.-Rohan Sippy collaboration, Chandni Chowk to China, released on January 16, 2009. She recently starred in Imtiaz Ali’s Love Aaj Kal (2009) opposite Saif Ali Khan. Love Aaj Kal also did well at the box-office.
Kareena Kapoor — Kareena Kapoor’s nick name is Bebo. She is daughter of Randhir Kapoor and Babita. Her elder sister Karisma Kapoor is also a famous Bollywood actress. She entered the Bollywood with a super flop movie called Refugee where she was paired with Abhishek Bachchan. However for Refugee she won Filmfare Best Female Debut Award. In 2001 she appeared in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, opposite to Hrithik Roshan. KKKG was India’s highest grossing film in the overseas market in 2001. Her portrayal of a prostitue in Chameli (2004) proved to be the turning point in her career and gained her the Filmfare Special Performance Award. She later received two Critics Awards for Best Actress at the Filmfare ceremony for her performances in the critically acclaimed Dev (2004) and Omkara (2006).
In 2007, Kapoor earned a Filmfare Best Actress Award for her performance in the Imtiaz Ali directed romantic comedy film, Jab We Met. Now a days, she is dating with Saif Ali Khan which is one of the hot topics for gossip sites and newpapers.
Vidya Balan — Vidya Balan is cousin of popular Tamil-National Award Winning actress Priyamani. She started her career in acting through music videos, soap operas and many ad commercials. She made her acting debut in the Bengali film, Bhalo Theko (2003), for which she won the Anandalok Puraskar Best Actress award in Kolkata. She later made her Hindi film debut with Parineeta (2005), for which she received a Filmfare Best Female Debut Award, and received her first commercial success with Rajkumar Hirani’s Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006). In 2007 she played an important role in Mani Ratnam’s critically acclaimed Guru where she portrayed a woman with a physical disability. The film did very well at the box office and her performance was critically acclaimed. However, her next two releases, Salaam-e-Ishq (2007) and Eklavya (2007) failed to do well on box-office. Her last two releases, Heyy Babyy (2007) and Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007) did well at the box office.
Amisha Patel — Her early Hindi movies like Kaho na pyaar hai and Gadar ek Prem Katha were big hits. But she couldn’t repeat the success of these movies. Gadar: Ek Prem Katha is regarded as one of the biggest hits in the history of Hindi cinema. During 2002 to 2006, Patel’s acting career entered a slump. In 2002, Patel had five continuous failures, Humraaz, Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage, Yeh Hai Jalwa, Vaada, Mangal Pandey: The Rising etc. Her last major performance in the 2006 film Ankahee for which she received critical recognition. Now a days she is doing supporting role in movies like Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Honeymoon travels pvt. ltd. etc. Very few people know that she is an Economics graduate from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Even she rejected the offer of Morgan Stanley before joining the film industry.
Konkona Sen Sharma — She is the daughter of famous filmmaker Aparna Sen. Konkana Sen is regarded as one of the leading actresses of contemporary parallel cinema. She made her debut as a child artist in the film Indira (1983). Her first film in the central role was a Bengali film Ek Je Aachhe Kanya (2000). She first gained attention with the English film Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002), which was directed by her mother, and received the National Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in the film. Her appearance in the drama Page 3 (2005) got her wider recognition from audiences, and she has since starred in a number of films, most of which have garnered her critical praise rather than commercial success. She won two consecutive Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Awards for her performances in Omkara (2006) and Life in a Metro (2007), respectively. Her performance in the former won her a second National Award under the Best Supporting Actress category.
Lara Dutta — 2000 was historical for Indian beauty queens. In that year, Lara Dutta won the miss universe crown whereas Priyanka Chopra and Dia Mirza won their respective Miss World and Miss Asia Pacific titles. It was India’s rare triple victory in the world of beauty pageants. She made her debut in Bollywood in year 2003 with the film Andaaz. It was a big hit on the box office. For this movie, she won Filmfare Best Female Debut Award. She then appeared in a number of films, some of which failed at the box office and some of which were mildly successful. Her box office “hits” are Masti (2004), Kaal (2005), No Entry (2005), Bhagam Bhag (2006) and Partner (2007). In 2007, she appeared in Yashraj banner’s movie Jhoom Barabar Jhoom which a failure on Box-office. She is still under 30 and has a bright future in Hindi film industry.
Amrita Rao — She made her acting debut with Ab Ke Baras (2002) which was a super-flop film. However, she gained attention of people with her success in Ishq Vishk. In 2004 her films Masti and Main Hoon Na, Deewaar (2004) were released. Out of which Main Hoon Na was a big hit. Vaah! Life Ho To Aisi (2005), Shikhar (2005), and Pyare Mohan (2006) followed. She starred in Sooraj R. Barjatya’s Vivah (2006) opposite Shahid Kapoor. Vivah’s success at the box-office established herself in the industry. In the same year, Amrita Rao made her debut in Tollywood, with the Telugu film Athidhi opposite Mahesh Babu. Amrita’s releases in 2008 include My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves and Welcome to Sajjanpur. Amrita’s releases in 2009 are Victory, and Shortkut. Suprisingly she has yet to repeat the success of Vivah, otherwise we will have one more Amisha Patel in the industry.