Top 10 Bollywood Actresses
"Bollywood is a cinema of vibrant contradictions, which works when it seems it shouldn't."—Gurinder Chadha
They’re the beloved beauties of the Hindi film industry. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the "Top 10 Bollywood Actresses."
For this list, we’re focusing on the most talented and versatile actresses of the Bollywood genre—so beauty isn’t the sole factor here.
As one of the most prominent Bollywood actresses of recent years, this woman has established herself as the epitome of grace and strength, both personally and professionally. Kicking off her Hindi film career in 2005 with Parineeta, which won her a Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut, Vidya has since become one of the most respected talents in her native India, while being adorned with numerous accolades from the Bollywood film industry. With each passing year and each landmark role, she continues to set the bar for a new wave of Bollywood performers.
One of the highest-paid actresses in India, this woman is certainly on her way to unparalleled levels of success. It all began with a starring role in 2006s Aishwarya, and by the time Cocktail hit theaters in 2012, a true icon had emerged. For it was at this point that Deepika’s charisma and performances really struck a chord with Bollywood viewers. She’s already a legendary figure back home, and it’s only a matter of time until she takes over Hollywood as well... especially considering she's cast in xXx sequel starring Vin Diesel, which is called xXx: The Return of Xander Cage and was released in 2017.
Known for her raspy voice, this Mumbai-born actress is a cousin of the number four entry on our list. With her parents and other relatives also part of the Indian film industry, it’s probably not surprising Rani Mukerji ended up in Bollywood—despite earlier misgivings about acting. Luckily for the world of cinema, Mukerji took a chance to pursue the profession full-time, and is now considered one of the Hindi language industry’s leading actresses. With over half a dozen Filmfare Awards to her name, and roles in romantic comedies and dramas, Mukerji especially impressed audiences and critics alike with her portrayal of a blind, deaf, and mute woman in Black.
Truly a global phenomenon, this leading lady of the American TV series, Quantico, has roots in pageantry, as she won Miss World—yes, MISS WORLD—in 2000. Given her eclectic set of artistic skills, Priyanka Chopra brings a lot to the table for any lucky director, especially considering her willingness to accept a diverse range of roles. She’s undoubtedly one of the sexiest Bollywood stars, and given the branding potential of her name alone, Priyanka brings international and well-deserved recognition to the Bollywood industry. With her role in the Baywatch movie, she’s sure to make a splash in Hollywood, too.
Back in the day, this actress-turned politician was once known as Bollywood’s Dream Girl, particularly after her role in 1968s Sapno Ka Saudagar. Less than a decade later, Hema Malini would actually play the titular Dream Girl alongside her future husband Dharmendra. A leading Bollywood actress who has appeared in over 150 movies, Malini won one of her 11 Filmfare Award nominations for Best Actress as well as the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Also a dancer, producer, and director, Malini was even given with an Honorary Doctorate for everything she’s done for Indian cinema.
One of the most influential Bollywood names and a Miss World winner, Aishwarya Rai boasts a rare mix of beauty, elegance, and talent that comes off so incredibly natural on screen. She doesn’t TRY to be a star, she just IS. And when Rai stunned audiences with her performance in 1998s Jeans—just a year after her film debut—it was clear that she would be a force to be reckoned with, both inside the Bollywood industry and beyond. That’s the true beauty of her legacy, as Aishwarya Rai has managed to sustain a prominent career while spreading her goodwill beyond borders.
She may be cousins with our #9 entry, but Kajol Devgan has made a successful Bollywood career on her own terms and merits. And we’re not just talking about her famous unibrow! With the most Filmfare awards for Best Actress—five—a record that she holds alongside her late aunt and one of Hindi cinema’s finest actresses, Nutan, Kajol has acted in romantic dramas, comedies, thrillers, and more. Awarded Indian’s fourth highest civilian honor, the Padma Shri, in 2011, Kajol’s most notable work are the multiple films she’s co-starred alongside frequent collaborator Shah Rukh Khan; and in particular, the romance flick Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.
This illustrious performer has staked her claim as the preeminent Bollywood figure of her day. Born Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan, Sridevi began turning Bollywood heads in the early 80s with films like Himmatwala, Mawaali, and Tohfa. When you’re that good at your craft, Bollywood shows the proper respect. Sridevi has been honored with the Padma Shri, and after leaving her film career behind for a number of years, she has returned to join her contemporaries and further build on her esteemed legacy. With a comeback that’s seen her regain much of her previous success, it’s no wonder Sridevi is considered Hindi cinema’s first female superstar.
In a time when the golden age of Hollywood reached its peak, there was simply no other Bollywood actress with the star power of Mumtaz Jehan Dehlavi, or “Madhubala.” Known for her exquisite beauty, undeniable charisma, and also a protected, private life, she became somewhat of a mythical figure after her untimely death from a heart defect at the age of 36—not too surprising then that she was frequently thought of as the “Marilyn Monroe of Bollywood.” Madhubala almost took her talents to Tinseltown, but she didn’t need Hollywood—Hollywood needed her.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are some honorable mentions:
- Kangana Ranaut
- Kareena Kapoor
- Sharmila Tagore
- Preity Zinta
A Mumbai-born artist who first earned her leading actress status in the mid-80s, Madhuri Dixit is as well known for her acting skills as she is for her incredible dancing abilities. Her moves and versatility, especially in the Bollywood drama Beta have led her to be dubbed the “Dhak Dhak Girl” and she has even been called the Madhubala of the 1990s. With six Filmfare Awards (so far) and the Padma Shri under her belt, Dixit is one of the most beloved actresses in Hindi cinema, and is still successfully making movies after a brief sabbatical to give motherhood her all during the noughties.
Do you agree with our list? Who is your favorite Bollywood actress? For more mind-blowing Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.