Beginning her career as a model in Delhi, Chitrangada Singh made her debut on the Bollywood screen with Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2005). Her performance as Geeta Rao, firstly a student caught up against volatile political and social issues in India and then a woman who chooses to be with the man she loves, rather than her husband, had won her critical acclaim.
The year 2013 saw Chitrangada in Inkaar (Dir. Sudhir Mishra) and I, Me Aur Main (Dir. Kapil Sharma).
Through Inkaar, Chitrangada played the part of Maya Luthra, an ambitious National Creative Director of an advertising agency. Maya Luthra files a lawsuit against the CEO of the company- Rahul Verma (Arjun Rampal). The film explores both sides of the story whilst highlighting the serious issue of workplace sexual harassment. Although the film did not fare well at the box office and received mixed reviews, Chitrangada’s sharp performance was appreciated by critics.
Playing the role of Anushka Lal opposite John Abraham in I, Me Aur Main, Chitrangada portrays a girlfriend frustrated at her boyfriend for the lack of responsibilities and maturity he shows. Chitrangada gauges the conflicting emotions gracefully. She emotively portrayed the fine balance between assertiveness and her broken feelings.
9. Huma Qureshi (Ek Thi Dayaan)
Huma Qureshi had stolen many hearts in through the critically acclaimed Gangs of Wasseypur Part 1 and 2 (Dir. Anurag Kashyap; 2012). She was nominated for several best supporting actress nominations – including Filmfare. She also gave an outstanding performance as Harman, the love of the protagonist, in the comedy-drama Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana (Dir. Ronnie Screwala; 2012).
This year, Huma Qureshi starred in the Bollywood horror film Ek Thi Dayaan (Dir. Kannan Iyer). Her role as Tamara, the girlfriend of a troubled magician who is haunted by the past, portrayed that Huma Quershi is a versatile actress who adapts to different genres with ease.
8. Shraddha Kapoor (Aashiqui 2)
Making her debut alongside Amitabh Bachchan, Ben Kingsley and R Madhavan in Teen Patti (Dir. Leena Yadav; 2010), Shraddha Kapoor’s performance gained critical acclaim for her role as a college student.
This year was definitely a landmark year for Shraddha Kapoor. Through her lead role as Aarohi in one of Bollywood’s blockbusters of the year, Aashiqui 2, Shraddha Kapoor reflected the intensity of her character powerfully. She presented through Aarohi, heart break, unconditional love and strength – a performance that won: BIG Star Entertainment Award for Most Romantic and Hello! Hall of Fame Award for Fresh Face of the Year.
The year 2014 is already looking promising with Shraddha Kapoor starring in Haider, Vishal Bhardwaj’s Bollywood spin on Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
7. Anushka Sharma (Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola)
First charming audiences through Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and then popularly and critically acclaimed as the ‘Ainvyai Ainvyai’ girl, Anushka Sharma has been growing from strength to strength.
With already several critically acclaimed performances under her belt, including the Best Actress award at the IIFA Awards (Band Baaja Baraat – 2011), Anushka is no doubt a genuinely talented actress.
Not only talented. But versatile.
In 2013, we only saw one release with Anushka Sharma – through the unconventional political satire, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola (Dir. Vishal Bhardwaj). Playing the part of Bijlee Mandola, the daughter of Harphool Singh Mandola (Harry), Anushka’s performance brought out the complexities of her character. Bijlee, who struggles with her father’s alcoholism and discovers that she is not in love with the man she is about to marry, brings a twist of fate.
6. Parineeti Chopra (Shuddh Desi Romance)
After her outstanding, critically acclaimed, goose bump giving performance in Ishaqzaade (Dir. Habib Faisal; 2012) arrived her role as Gayatri in Maneesh Sharma’s Shuddh Desi Romance.
A moving, thought provoking film, Shuddh Desi Romance was brought alive not just by the unconventional message it portrayed, but through Parineeti Chopra. As Gayatri, Parineeti Chopra portrayed an independent, courageous woman who is not afraid to doing what feels right to her. A highlight of her performance is when although Gayatri is scared of falling in love, she decides to do so anyway. The emotional presence that Parineeti Chopra reflects in this scene in particular, is highly commendable.
5. Kareena Kapoor (Satyagraha)
Kareena Kapoor is one of Bollywood’s most prolific actresses. Since her debut in Refugee alongside Abhishek Bachchan (2000), the actress has startled with her versatility and performances.
Amongst many others, we have seen Kareena Kapoor portray a serious character as Kaurwaki, through the historical period drama Asoka (Dir. Santosh Sivan; 2001); a comically charming character in Jab We Met (Dir. Imtiaz Ali; 2007); a poignant performance through Omkara (Dir. Vishal Bhardwaj; 2006); a breath taking performance as a troubled actress through Heroine (Dir. Madhur Bhandarkar; 2012); and a powerful performance in Talaash (Dir. Reema Kagti; 2012), as a red light district worker.
This year, Kareena Kapoor stepped into the shoes of an opinionated and determined journalist, Yasmin Ahmed in the film Satyagraha (Dir. Prakash Jha). In Kareena Kapoor’s own words in regards to her role, she stated in an interview with rediff.com: “My character believes in the truth. She is like a catalyst.” Although the film itself received mixed reviews, Kareena’s performance was strong and pivotal to the film. The film highlighted the importance to stand up to corruption in India.
4. Nimrat Kaur (The Lunchbox)
A film and stage actress, Nimrat Kaur stunned the world this year through a remarkable performance as Ila in The Lunchbox – a critically acclaimed film that won the Critics Week Viewers Choice Award (Grand Rail d’Or) at the Cannes Film Festival 2013.
Ila, a housewife who is desperate to re-kindle the love in her ailing marriage, takes to cooking mesmerising meals for her husband. Delivered through a tiffin, a lunchbox, the meals reach the wrong person – wrong in the sense that it is not delivered to her husband, yet right, as what sparks up is a friendship and love that she craves.
Nimrat Kaur delivers her character’s desires, emotions and struggle with a natural ease that leave the viewer haunted and thinking about her character long after the film has ended.
3. Sonakshi Sinha (Lootera)
Very quickly becoming a name on every Bollywood fans lips, it is difficult to believe that Sonakshi Sinha’s debut in Dabaang (Dir. Abhinav Kashyap) was only three years ago.
During 2013, Sonakshi performed as a lead through Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara (Dir. Milan Luthria), Bullet Raja (Dir. Tigmanshu Dhulia) and Lootera (Dir. Vikramaditya Motwane). Although the film was declared a ‘flop’ according to the Box Office India, Lootera was profusely praised and was released to worldwide critical acclaim.
What stood out through the film was Sonakshi Sinha’s performance as Pakhi, the delicate and sensitive young woman who falls in love with a thief. A film that is highly emotive and relies heavily on profound silences and expressions by the lovers, Sonakshi Sinha captured the emotion to a tee. Stepping completely into the skin of her character, it is impossible to forget either the performance or the character that was brought to life so poignantly.
2. Sonam Kapoor (Raanjhanaa)
Sonam Kapoor, a former model, began her film career with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya (2007). Already having showed potential from the start, Sonam Kapoor proved the point this year with two outstanding performances: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (Dir. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra) and Raanjhanaa (Dir. Anand L. Rai).
Raanjhanaa, an incredible emotional roller coaster, would not be able to deliver the sadness and evoke the audience were it not for the strong lead performances. Therefore, it has to be through Raanjhanaa that Sonam Kapoor has demonstrated that she is an actress with great depth and the power to move audiences.
Playing the role of Zoya Haidar, Sonam Kapoor reflected a young Muslim woman fighting for her love. The turning point in the film as well as for Sonam Kapoor’s performance is the tragedy. Carrying all her brokenness, Zoya turns this into courage and strength. Reflecting the myriad of emotions that Zoya progresses through, Sonam Kapoor delivered an impeccable, critically appreciated performance.
1. Deepika Padukone (Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela)
Being one of the most prominent actresses of Bollywood must surely comes with great responsibility. Deepika Padukone has fulfilled this responsibility perfectly and more by pushing her boundaries through her performance in the super hit, Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Deepika Padukone essays the role of Juliet, as Leela.
Having made her Bollywood debut alongside superstar Shahrukh Khan in Om Shanti Om (Dir. Farah Khan; 2007), her instant critically acclaimed performance, which achieved the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut, had given audiences and critics high expectations. However, during Deepika’s less successful phase post Om Shanti Om’s release, she was said to have lost her spark.
Nevertheless, this spark returned last year through Cocktail (Dir. Homi Adajania). However, it was during 2013 that we witnessed the spark flare up into a blazing flame. The fire, the desire to be with her beloved despite all odds, is presented on the silver screen through Deepika’s unshakable performance. As we watch the drama unfold on screen, the intensity and the anticipation can be felt through Deepika’s performance who at once pierces the audience’s heart with her genuine and breathtaking performance. Whether it is love, anger or hate that Leela feels, Deepika delivers flawlessly, leaving the audience stunned.