2015 was the year of actresses who were not content just to deliver a successful movie or two. The year’s top actresses weren’t just your usual on-screen heroines. They pushed the envelope and branched out into other projects and new roles in and out of the Hindi movie industry. Here are the actresses who went above and beyond this year.
Perhaps the actress most proving to a master of many things at once this year was Priyanka. She broke into American TV with a bang — no, really, a very big bang in New York’s Grand Central Station — in Quantico without ever leaving Bollywood behind. She also sang and danced across the big screen in two of 2015’s big hits, Bajirao Mastani and Dil Dhadakne Do.
Deepika also kept up her long-running string of successes in 2015 by proving she was tops at both low-key films like Piku and at grand ones like Bajirao Mastani, slipping a rom-com in between with Tamasha. But she also chose to speak out on other screens in the short film My Choice, causing quite a controversy as her words were debated.
This year, Anushka turned producer for thriller NH10, for which she also took on a violent role praised by critics. Her performance was gripping and solid, and undoubtedly something we’re not used to seeing from a top actress. And let’s not forget her showings in DDD or Bombay Velvet, in which her performance was also praised though the movie itself was a flop.
Bhumi has been the year’s surprising breakout actress, making her on screen debut in the sleeper hit Dum Laga Ke Haisha. In the film, she played a simple plus-sized girl whose husband ultimately learns to look past his prejudice against her size and love her. It’s safe to say Bhumi stole hearts not only in the film but also off-screen.
No best-of-2015 list would be complete without mentioning the triumphant return of Kajol to the big screen. While all of her humanitarian work is fabulous, it’s been five long years since My Name is Khan and We Are Family, and we were all ready and eager for her bubbly personality to light up the screen once more. While the watchability of Dilwale as a film is highly debatable, that of Kajol’s performance isn’t. She showed us just why we missed her so, with nary a cobweb in sight as she slipped seamlessly back our hearts and chemistry with Shahrukh Khan.
Among the year’s best and most challenging performances was Kalki Koechlin in Margarita With a Straw. In the film, she plays a spunky young woman with cerebral palsy who falls in love with another woman. The character defies expectations with her disability and her sexuality, all delivered in a heartwarming performance by Kalki.
Honorable mention: Aishwarya Rai
Like Kajol, it’s been five long years since Aish last dazzled us in a Hindi movie. We only wish she’d planned her comeback as well as Kajol instead of wasting everyone’s time with Jazbaa. Not even the thrill of Aishwarya’s return (or the strength of her performance in the film, according to some critics) was enough to overcome the abysmal movie that very few bothered to see. Perhaps she should have skipped it and gone straight to one of the more promising films she has due next year: KJo’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, biopic Sarbjit. Those, we’re truly eager to see.